Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Around springtime, there is no more appropriate dessert than that sweet and spicy combination of pastry and vegetable known as carrot cake. Unfortunately, carrot cake has two fatal flaws. Masquerading as a healthy alternative to most decadent treats, carrot cake is actually one of the worst choices one could make. So not only does the high oil content that makes it so moist boost the calorie content (not to mention the cream cheese frosting), but, it also contains flour. So my goals? Make an amazingly tasty carrot cake that is lower in calories and fat (let's keep in mind we are still eating cake, so it's not like it should be completely void of calories), AND gluten-free. The ingredient list is quite daunting, but the payoff is huge. One bite of this delicious cake and you might just believe this is the best carrot cake you've ever tried.

2-1/2 c. gluten-free flour blend (tapioca, potato starch, arrowroot, sorghum, garfava, white rice flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. non-fat greek yogurt (such as fage or okios)
1/4 c. low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 c. natural applesauce
1 c. crushed and drained pineapple
3/4 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. golden raisins
3 c. finely grated carrots

1 pkg. neufchatel cheese
1 pkg. fat-free cream cheese
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (you may use less according to your personal tastes)
powdered sugar to taste (approximately 3/4  to 1 c. or more)

1/2 c. crushed walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper fitted to the bottom and spray with oil. Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Combine sugars, vanilla, vegetable oil, yogurt, mayonnaise, and applesauce in bowl of electric mixer, blending well. Add slightly beaten eggs, blending until well combined. Stir in carrots, pineapple, coconut and raisins. Divide equally between two prepared cake pans. Tap pans on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake 30-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack and frost when completely cooled. sprinkle top of cake with walnut pieces.

Blend cheeses and butter with electric mixer until whipped and creamy. Add vanilla and blend. Add powdered sugar, tasting to ensure it's slightly sweet, but not overwhelming.


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