Carrot Cake Muffins with Toasted Coconut Glaze

Carrot cake has always been one of my favorite desserts, second only to German chocolate cake.  Since being diagnosed as a diabetic, though, I’ve done my best to steer clear of dessert.  I will admit, at times I do indulge in sugary desserts, but it isn’t often simply because I don’t like how I feel afterward–my blood sugar spikes and I get groggy.

Since adopting a healthier way of eating, I decided it would be a good idea to learn to make healthier desserts too.  Real eating doesn’t mean giving up the things you love to eat; real eating means learning to eat those things in smaller quantities less often.  At least that’s what I’ve taught myself over the past 6 months.

A couple of weeks ago, I’d bought some prepackaged cake mix and a can of pumpkin, because I wanted to try making some pumpkin muffins, Weight Watchers style.  The last time I did WW, a friend of mine from work did it with me, and made some chocolate muffins with pumpkin which were pretty good and surprisingly, relatively healthy.  I decided against chocolate this time, as there wasn’t much I could do to chocolate muffins made this way to jazz them up that wouldn’t make them terribly unhealthy.

So I did a bit of research and devised a recipe that makes the muffins using a carrot cake mix, with a few additions to make them taste a bit more like carrot cake.  The really great thing about these is that they are portion controlled, low in fat, full of fiber, as well as Vitamins A and C, and a bit of healthy oil from the walnuts.

Who knew carrot cake could be healthy AND decadent? These little muffins are both!

Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

For the cakes:

  • 1 box carrot cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling; these are two different things)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots, raw
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cake spice (a cloves/cinnamon/ginger/allspice mixture from The Spice House, Chicago)

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Be sure the rack you are going to bake on is adjusted to the halfway point in your oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl if you are using a hand mixer, place the cake mix, shredded carrots, and pumpkin.  Mix these ingredients together on medium speed, and while the beater is going, add the cake spice, vanilla and walnuts.  The mixture will be very thick, so carefully add the water in to thin it out a bit.

Line standard-sized muffin tins with your cupcake liners of choice.  Should you choose to simply pour the batter into the tins, you will need to spray down the pan with a non-stick baking spray so that the muffins release easily.

Fill each liner about 2/3 full; about 1/4 cup or so.  You will have enough batter to fill 24 liners.  Bake in the heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  When done, allow the muffins to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, do the following:

Spread the 1/2 cup coconut flakes in a thin layer on a cookie sheet or some other flat pan.  Toast the flakes in a 350 degree oven until brown, taking care to stir them around so they brown evenly.  Allow these to cool before stirring them into the sugar glaze.

Pour the powdered sugar into a medium-sized bowl, and whisk in the milk.  Once there are no lumps, stir in the toasted coconut.

When the muffins are cool, spoon a teaspoon of the coconut glaze over the top of each muffin.  You will have enough glaze to cover each muffin.

This recipe makes 24 tasty and super moist muffins, which are especially good with a glass of milk, or your favorite coffee.

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