Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carrot Cake with Creme Cheese Frosting

I wanted to make a dessert that represented Spring, Earth Day, and Easter to celebrate the season.  The first thing I thought of was carrot cake.  Although carrots have been used in cakes since the middle ages, the carrot cake became a huge fad in the U.S. in the 1970‘s, around the time when eating “natural” foods became popular and the first Earth Day was celebrated, so it seems like the perfect choice.   I made carrot cake back in the 70’s but I felt the recipe needed an update. 
I used the usual grated carrots and raisins but I substituted pecans for the more traditional walnuts.  Not because pecans are better for you, it’s just that I’m allergic to walnuts.  I substituted agave nectar for the sugar, because of it’s low glycemic value and replaced the eggs with ground flax seeds.  I used a combination of soy creamer and apple cider vinegar for buttermilk.  I also reduced the amount of oil considerably.  You could remove the oil altogether and replace it with applesauce and I’m sure it would be fine.  I also replaced some of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat. 
I coarsely grated the 2 1/2 cups of carrots, and used a 1/2 cup of raisins and a 1/2 cup of pecans.  It’s so jam packed with carrots, raisins and nuts that I’m calling these bars instead of cake.  

I topped the bars with a swirl of non dairy cream cheese frosting...because, lets face it, carrot cake is not really carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting.  These are really rich so I cut the second batch into 8 bar sized pieces.

Carrot Cake Bars with Creme Cheese Frosting
Makes 8 bars - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
For the Bars
2 teaspoons ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy creamer
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil (or use apple sauce)
1/2 cup light agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
21/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
For the Frosting
8 oz Tofutti non dairy cream cheese
1/4 cup spectrum butter flavored palm shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Oil and flour an 8” square baking pan.
Mix together the flax meal and water in a bowl.
Mix the vinegar and creamer together in a cup.
Measure out the other liquid ingredients and then add everything to the flax and water.
Beat until well blended.
Combine all of the dry ingredients and stir well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until everything is combined.
Stir in the carrots, raisins and nuts.  (The batter will be stiff.)
Spread the batter our evenly in the pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. 
Bars are done they start to pull away from the pan and a tooth pick comes out clean
While the bars are cooling beat together the non dairy cream cheese and the shortening.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until well conbined
Add the powdered sugar, a quarter cup at a time and beat until smooth.
Make sure the bars have completely cooled before frosting them.

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