Happy Endings

I always smile when I'm out with friends at a favorite diner and it comes time to choose a dessert. Inevitably, someone will wink and say, "I'll have the carrot cake -- that's got to be healthy, right?" Of course, the rich cake almost always includes copious amounts of oil or butter, eggs and sugar. Then, to add insult to injury, it's covered with rich cream cheese frosting! Since I'm also a fan of the crumbly cake that hosts everything from carrots to raisins to nuts, I thought I'd take a crack at making it the sort of dessert you can actually afford to top with that delightful cream cheese frosting.

With recipes that often include more than a cup of oil or butter and as much as half a dozen eggs, I thought that there had to be a better way to keep such a cake moist and delicious. Enter carrots, yogurt, orange juice and molasses. All of these ingredients bring moisture and flavor to the party. Instead of adding sugar, the sweetness in this recipe comes from the carrots, orange juice, molasses and raisins. While the result is less sweet and sticky than the traditional carrot cake, I think it's better for grown-up tastes. Besides, if you opt to frost the cake, the frosting will fill in any sweetness gap you might worry about!

By the way, you needn't feel obligated to frost this cake. You can easily scoop the batter into muffin cups (decrease the baking time to about 25 minutes) or a loaf pan (increase the baking time to about 90 minutes) and skip the frosting and you've got a wonderful snack. I like to make this in a loaf pan, slice it and toast it just a touch for a tasty breakfast too. Who knew that carrot cake really could be good for you?

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Better Carrot Cake

  • 1 c. grated carrots
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 c. flax meal (ground flax seed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray a 7 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine the carrots, yogurt, orange juice, molasses, raisins, walnuts, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until blended and a batter forms. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting, if desired.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 75 minutes