Carrot Cake Pudding

I'll admit that I was never a huge fan of carrot cake when I was growing up.  Even now, if given the choice at a bakery or restaurant, I'd probably choose a dark chocolate dessert over even the best carrot cake every time.  With that said, as I've been exploring the use of vegetables in baked goods (my favorites are sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini), I think that I've finally discovered the beauty of the carrot cake.  It takes a vegetable that has its own distinct flavor and turns it into a sweet, well-spiced baked good that you can eat for dessert.

Most carrot cakes contain as much butter and sugar as any other cake, and so the nutrients that you're getting from the carrots tend to be grossly overshadowed by fat and calories.  This recipe is different.  It's not really a cake because you cook it in a water bath and it has a much denser texture than a traditional cake.  The spices and the carrots convey the carrot-cake flavor though, and you'll surely be reminded of the traditional dessert when you take your first bite of this pudding.  

The recipe was inspired by the Carrot Pudding recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.  I cut the sugar in half and used maple syrup and agave nectar instead of refined brown sugar.  I also used dried unsweetened cherries instead of currants.  You could certainly add walnuts to the pudding as well, but I just added a few on top instead.  At under 150 calories per serving, it's the perfect way to end a healthy meal.

Carrot Cake Pudding (Makes 4 servings)

1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup water 
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
Zest of one lemon
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries, chopped (or dried cranberries)

*You could also use 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1.  Put the chopped carrots and water in a small saucepan, cover the pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Allow carrots to simmer for 5-7 minutes, until you can easily stick a fork through a carrot.
2.  While your carrots are cooking, get the baking pan ready.  You need 4 ramekins and a large enough baking pan to hold them (I used a 9x13 baking dish).  Place the ramekins in the baking dish and spray the inside of the ramekins with cooking spray.
3.  When the carrots are cooked, turn the heat off and let the carrots cool for a few minutes.  Transfer the carrots to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.  Pour the carrot purée into the bowl of your stand mixer (or another mixing bowl if you want to use a hand mixer) and put the bowl in the freezer to cool the purée while you prepare the dry ingredients.
4.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
5.  Take the carrot purée out of the freezer and attach the bowl to your stand mixer.  Add the maple syrup, agave nectar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla to the carrot purée.  Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add the egg white.  Gradually add your dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until the batter is combined, stopping once to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl.
6.  Fold in the dried cherries to the batter and remove the bowl from the mixer.  Slowly pour the batter into the 4 ramekins, making sure to distribute even amounts to each ramekin.
7.  Fill the baking pan with hot tap water until it gets to be halfway up the side of the ramekins.  Carefully transfer the baking pan to the oven (use two hands or things will get messy).  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  If you insert a toothpick or butter knife into the center of one of the puddings, it should come out clean when they're finished cooking.
8.  Remove the ramekins from the pan to cool (I used tongs to accomplish this without getting a potholder wet).  You can serve these warm or cold.  I put mine in the refrigerator to cool.

Serve with nuts, whipped cream, yogurt, ice cream, or whatever you think sounds good.

Here are the nutrition facts for one serving of Carrot Cake Pudding:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 71 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Trans Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 51%Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 3%Iron 4%

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