Semi-Healthy Carrot Cupcakes

Happy Monday everyone!

As it unfortunately keeps raining here–despite a small window on Dad’s Day where we ran the dogs around–I’ve been doing some baking lately. Some of it has been not-so-healthy, but lately I’ve been learning some healthier-baking tips, like substituting applesauce for some of the oil.

Brilliant, no?

One dessert I had some trouble finding a healthier alternative for is carrot cake. I loooove carrot cake, and I love that you can pretend it’s healthy, even though sadly, it really isn’t.

gotta love it

However, while flipping through my latest issue of Fitness magazine, I stumbled upon the following recipe, played with it a little, and the result is delicious, popular, and with about a pound of carrots in them, kind of good for you!

CARROT CUPCAKES:

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray/muffin liners
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 7 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots
  • Raisins, chocolate chips or chopped nuts: optional.
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several muffin trays or spray with nonstick cooking spray. *NOTE: Recipe can also be made into bars by spraying a 9 X 13 inch pan.*
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together egg whites, applesauce and oil. Stir into flour mixture. Stir in shredded carrot and other optional fillings.
  4. Spread batter in muffin tins. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat together sifted powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!!
One thing I changed (besides the addition of chocolate chips and making it extra cinnamon-y) was that I kept my brown sugar a little lumpy, letting it break up in the little cupcakes for a little fun surprise. I also switched to cupcakes, as I always find I have more self-control to have just one or two cupcakes, rather than cutting myself a GIANT piece of cake…they’re like pre-made into serving sizes! Plus, there are few things happier than cupcakes.
That’s it for now, folks! As always, let me know if you have discovered any delightful recipes, or if you try this one out successfully! 
Until we meet again. 🙂

Who Doesn’t Love Crepes?

Apparently I have a thing for French cuisine.

Yesterday, during the brunch I threw for my boyfriend (congrats to him on receiving his Master’s!) I made these crepes, and they were a hit. I’ve made many crepe recipes over the years, and I’ve found it’s hard to go wrong–but these ones are a classic!

courtesy of Wikipedia

I prefer sweet crepes, but the sugar can also be omitted: they’ll still be delicious.

BASIC SWEET CREPES:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (I mix skim and half-and-half)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for pan
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Whisk together flour, milk, water and beaten eggs.
2. Add butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and whisk until combined. Mixture should be liquid.
3. Heat small amount of butter (or margarine) in the skillet, coating the bottom of the pan as it melts. Keep the heat on medium-high.
4. Pour in desired amount of batter (I usually do about 1/4 of a cup) into heated skillet, tilting pan to spread the batter very thin. The crepe will cook very quickly; watch the heat of the pan to prevent overcooking. The edges will turn brown and the crepe should bubble; flip (about one minute) and cook the other side. 
5. Remove from heat (the other side will cook faster than one minute) and serve with desired fillings: cinnamon and sugar, fruit, jam, whipped cream, Nutella, etc.
6. Enjoy!
What are your favorite crepe fillings? Or recipes?

Speaking of the French…

While creating this blog, I vowed I include a recipe section, to be filled with my fabulous attempts at healthy eating, at least the attempts that turned out so well after about fifteen tries.

Courtesy of ehow.com

But today, I am going to post about Madeleines, my favorite French cookie-cakes, which are not exactly healthy, but which I do have a delicious recipe for.

I first tasted Madeleines, many moons ago, in my French class during the 6th grade. I forgot about Madeleines until my senior year in college, while reading Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (translated as In Search of Lost Time and  Remembrance of Things Past) and was able to make this recipe as part of my thesis presentation…any excuse to snack during class.

This recipe comes from my French great-grandmother (I think) via many years and reinventions, and here is my version:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice/extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

Whip the butter and  sugar on high until fluffy. Add the extracts and orange zest to the butter. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the eggs, one at a time.

Beat the mixture on medium for 3 minutes, until the mixture is lighter and quite fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Very carefully fold the flour and baking powder into the egg mix. Once smooth, place in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. With a generous hand, grease 2 standard madeleine pans (I spray liberally with olive oil cooking spray) and press the cold batter into the molds. Bake them for 10 to 13 minutes, until they are puffed and turn golden brown. Invert the pans onto wire racks and give them a hard tap to remove the cookies from the molds. They are ready to serve.

This  recipe makes about 12 servings.

**Note: You WILL need a Petite Madeleine pan for this, generally available at specialty kitchen supply stores, although I found mine at Bed Bath & Beyond**

(For more on my thoughts of Marcel Proust, visit my thesis blog about exploring Epiphanies).

“I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.” Marcel Proust, discussing a madeleine.