Recipe Makeovers

Lighter, healthier, but just as tasty: See how we made over these favorite dishes.

Recipe Makeover: Carrot Cake

We radically slim down one of the most egregiously over-the-top cakes in the universe. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD

Carrot Cake Recipe

Warm spices and brown sugar add rich, caramelized flavors to this carrot cake.

John Autry

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  • Build a Better Cake

    A successful cake finds perfect balance among these four essential ingredients.

  • Carrot Cake Recipe Makeover Flour

    1. Flour

    Flour contributes body, structure, and texture to the framework of a cake. Weigh thte flour and measure it carefully; this is essential to lower-fat baking.

  • Carrot Cake Recipe Makeover Sugar

    2. Sugar

    Sugar add volume, tenderness, and texture to the batter. Granulated and brown sugars team up to provide a level of sweetness that rounds out the warm spices.

  • Carrot Cake Recipe Makeover Butter

    3. Butter

    Real butter lends a softer texture, firm crumb, and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Soften butter to a range of 65º to 70º for maximum leavening.

  • Carrot Cake Recipe Makeover Eggs

    4. Eggs

    Eggs bind ingredients, provide structure, and aerate the cake. To incorporate more air, beat the eggs ater each addition, resulting in a great rise.

View Recipe: Carrot Cake

Some time back, carrot cake became the poster child for a healthy-sounding food that is actually a fat and calorie disaster. But we'd forgotten how much of a disaster it could be until we looked at an online recipe from a celebrity chef who shall go unnamed. There it was, in all its splendor, weighing in at 1,460 calories and 28 grams of saturated fat in one gargantuan three-layer slice. 

Few are the recipes that have been made over quite this dramatically. We shaved about 1,000  calories and 89 grams of total fat. Yet, it's delicious: Creamy butter and smooth buttermilk create a perfectly moist, tender texture. Earthy brown sugar brings out the warm cinnamon spices. Real-deal cream cheese and butter maximize frosting flavor. Low-fat fromage blanc and a light sprinkle of toasted pecans make it a special, vastly lighter treat.

OLD WAY
1,460 calories per slice
99 grams total fat
28 grams saturated fat
24 tablespoons of oil for moisture
Frosted with one stick of butter and a pound of cream cheese
Pecan extravaganza

OUR WAY
284 calories per slice
9.7 grams total fat
4.9 grams saturated fat
6 tablespoons butter and a rich splash of buttermilk
Frosted with a hint of butter, cream cheese, and fromage blanc
A perfectly toasted sprinkle

View Recipe: Carrot Cake

See More: Low-Calorie Desserts

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