Lighter Carrot Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

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Ok, I’m going to be honest.  I’m posting a recipe for carrot cake and I don’t even like carrot cake.

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You see, I really thought I did.  Moist cake slathered in cream cheese icing, how could it be bad?  Well, of course my version that I thought I would like is void of raisins, walnuts and canned pineapple.  Those items in baked goods, especially the raisins, just don’t generally work for me.  I know there are a lot of carrot cake lovers out there getting very angry with me right about now.

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So I made this cake and was so excited that it was a little low in fat, full of a vegetable and in sheet cake form so that I could call it a snack cake (snack cake = anytime cake).  The flavor is great, the cake is nice and moist (not gummy or dry like some lighter baked goods) and of course the cream cheese icing calls for eating by the spoonful.  But still, I just can’t get behind it.  There is something about the carrots in the cake that bother me.  Sorry carrot cake, you are not for me.  Good thing there are other people around, like my husband, who feel differently!

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On a different note, let’s talk about this icing for a second.  I was contacted by Weight Watchers to try out their cream cheese in one of my recipes.  As someone who uses reduced fat cream cheese by default, I welcomed the chance to try a new (to me) brand.  The outcome was not disappointing at all.  The frosting on this cake was creamy and sweet with a little bit of that cream cheese tang.  I may or may not have scraped some off of the cake that I opted out of eating.  I’d definitely use their brand in future recipes.


Lighter Carrot Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Serves 16-20


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup low fat buttermilk

2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 5-6 large carrots)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray and set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside

With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy

Add eggs, one egg and egg white at a time, mixing between each

Mix in vanilla

Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture and buttermilk as follows: 1/3 of flour mixture, 1/2 of buttermilk, 1/3 of flour mixture, remaining 1/2 of buttermilk, remaining 1/3 flour mixture

Turn off mixture and fold in shredded carrots

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean

Set cake aside to cool

Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 of an 8-ounce block of Weight Watchers cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups confectioners sugar*

Using the whisk attachment to an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until light and creamy

Add vanilla and salt and mix well

Add sugar, 1/2 of a cup at a time until at desired consistency(*2 cups was the perfect amount for me, but if you want a thicker texture and sweeter icing, you may want to add another 1/2 cup)

Once cake has cooled, evenly spread icing over top

Serve immediately or store in refrigerator up to a few days (best served within first 24 hours)

Adapted from Cooking Light


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What do you refuse to put into your desserts?  Raisins and coconut are high on my list.

Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of Weight Watchers cream cheese, however all of the opinions in this post are my own.


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34 Responses to “Lighter Carrot Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Icing”

  1. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga December 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    this looks awesome…i love carrot cake and cream cheese frosting is my fave. nice job!

  2. Samara @ Deconstruct the Girl December 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    I’m not a huge carrot cake fan either but this looks delicious and I love that you took out the raisins (they don’t work for me either) :)

  3. DessertForTwo December 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Funny you don’t like carrot cake, I have a few people in my life who want carrot cake as their birthday cake! Isn’t that crazy? I thought the only choices for birthday cake were double chocoalte or white cake with vanilla frosting?


    • nicole {sweet peony} December 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      haha i’m totally that weirdo that asks for carrot cake for my birthday. every single year. maybe it’s the cream cheese frosting??

      anyways, lauren- this looks awesome! i’m not a fan of pineapple, coconut, or raisins in my carrot cake so this is perfect! i do love adding some pecans though. happy friday!

      • KeepItSweet December 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

        Um, who are these people?!

  4. amy @ fearless homemaker December 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    i still think this looks fabulous! i’m not wild about raisins in such in my desserts either, so this is much more my speed, especially with that delicious icing. yum!

  5. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. December 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    I actually really enjoy carrot cake and the fact that we can eat this at anytime sounds pretty awesome to me! :)

  6. Krissy @ Krissy's Creations December 9, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    I love how this carrot cake is a lightened up version. With all the indulging desserts I make it’s nice to switch it up and make something lighter. Thanks for the recipe even though it’s not your favorite ;)

  7. Peggy December 9, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    I’m usually hesitant about raisins in my dessert too! I’m just not a fan, but I have no idea why.

    Carrot cake on the other hand, I love! I hate the tedious grating of carrots that’s involved, but the final result is definitely worth it most of the time =)

  8. Parsley Sage December 9, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    I volunteer to help you eat your carrot cake. Wowsa! I love CC and this one looks pretty darned tasty :)


  9. Sandra December 9, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Thank you for thinking of our waistlines and I’ll be on the lookout for the cream cheese. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t put in a dessert, except for liver!

  10. Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy December 9, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Carrot cake is one of those things that I forget about how much I love it. Until there is a huge creamy, spicy piece in front of me and then it’s go time. Looks yummy!

  11. Monica @ The Yummy Life December 9, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    I am totally in the “raisins ruin everything” camp (I actually have a t-shirt that says that). So, this recipe works for me. I’ve never seen the WW cream cheese, but I will keep a look out.

    • KeepItSweet December 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      OMG, I need that t-shirt!

  12. thelittleloaf December 9, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    You’re not weird, I definitely wouldn’t put raisins in carrot cake either! It needs to be moist and full of flavour, but no bits – except maybe a few walnut chunks for me. This version looks lovely and a little lighter on the waistline!

  13. Kiri W. December 9, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Pretty! And I always am happy for lightened up treats around the holidays – great recipe!

  14. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite December 9, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    I actually love carrot cake and definitely dig the cream cheese icing!! I can’t wait to try this one, especially with the WW cream cheese! Happy weekend :)

  15. Sues December 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    How pretty!! I do enjoy carrot cake, though it’s probably not my cake of choice on most occasions. This looks delightful, though!

  16. Kristen December 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    I always think that carrot cake looks so pretty but something about having carrots in my cake weirds me out.

  17. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic December 10, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I love carrot cake and I’m glad that this is an “anytime” cake!

  18. Casey December 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    LOL I’m the same way with raisins, yuck!! I refuse to put them in my oatmeal cookies, too. Chocolate chips are definitely the way to go :) I’ve tried boxed carrot cake before and it has been okay for me, but why have vegetables in your cake when you can have chocolate!?

    • KeepItSweet December 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm #


  19. Erika - The Teenage Taste December 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I am completely obsessed with carrot cake! I could eat this everyday! :-)

  20. Jen at The Three Little Piglets December 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    I feel the same way about all the chunks in most traditional carrot cakes. Try substituting some carrot puree (like babyfood carrots) sometime – gives you the taste, the flavor, and the nutrition without all of the chunks…

    • KeepItSweet December 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

      Oh, that is such a good idea!

  21. Jen @ keepitsimplefoods December 11, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Classic combo- looks delish!

  22. Sarah December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    This looks delicious! I personally absolutely love carrot cake, but it always looks a bit icky before you bake it. Nothing icky when it comes out the oven though… I could probably eat a whole tray of it!

  23. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen December 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    This looks delicious! I’m a fan of any kind of cake with cream cheese frosting, especially carrot!

  24. Melanie December 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    I always complain that raisins in baked goods make my tongue itch and people are all “ooohhhh, you must be allergic”. It’s really just my not-so-subtle way of making sure no one EVER hands me a cookie/cake/muffin with raisins in it. EW. My tongue is itching at the thought.

    • KeepItSweet December 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      Hahaha we should start a movement- people against raisins in baked goods!

  25. Audrey December 13, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I also don’t like raisins or coconut. I also don’t put nuts in most baked goods as my daughter doesn’t like nuts. We will put in chocolate chips and even other fruits such as cherries or cranberries, just not raisins. I’ve never used a light cream cheese in frostings, I’m going to have to try that.

  26. Sherry February 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Oh, sweet Niece. Again, I question your family genes (although I also dislike raisins in my food). I love carrot cake and I love coconut. Thanks for being sweet enough to post even though you don’t like. And that is why I love you anyway:-)

    • KeepItSweet February 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm #



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