Sharing Stories Over a Slice of Lower-Fat Caramel Apple Carrot Cake

There are certain memories from autumn that I’ll cherish forever. Immediately coming to mind; my childhood escape into a good book on the weekends while lounging on the front porch with my gangly, awkward legs thrown over the arm rest of our swinging bench.  Unaware of the time, I’d sit outside until the sun sank, completely absorbed in the action, drama and endless possibilities afforded to me through literature.

Eventually, my mom would call out the door to check on me. By her attempts to lure me back into reality with a snack, I think she was worried I might blow away with the leaves.  Sharing a treat with my mom was definitely time well spent, even if I might have initially protested the interruption. Now as an adult, I know that eating together is a bonding experience that isn’t necessarily just about the food. I’d tell Mom all about the plot in my book-du-jour, which would  eventually turn into her sharing something remarkable about herself that I would have never imagined – and vice versa!

Slice of Caramel Apple Carrot Cake 

Some of our favorite lazy-day snacks shared during those easy-breezy fall days were plates full of pumpkin muffins and big bowls of popcorn. One day, my mom pulled out all the stops and made a crazy-good cake made moist with carrots, apples, raisins and a medley of other seasonal ingredients.  A slice of that cake reminded me of the ginger-haired heroine from the book on my lap, Anne of Anne of Green Gables. "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?” -- Anne Shirley I have to agree with Anne! October seems to be the centerpiece of fall, it’s no longer hot and it’s not yet cold. Fall is the colorful and fragrant grand finale of the year before it turns into the black and white of winter. When I look back on autumn and October in particular, I fondly think of orange, amber, cooler nights, longer shadows, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg coming from the oven and warming hands and belly with a mug of apple cider. I also think of my reading retreats on the porch and carrot cakes and . . . connecting with my mom!

 

Out of nostalgia and to honor my mom, the changing seasons and my fictional friend, Anne, I created this heavenly and actually quite healthy recipe I’m calling Lower-Fat Caramel Apple Carrot Cake. Whipped up with the ripest produce, pecans and dripping with ooey-gooey (yet low fat) caramel, my layer cake is the personification of a warm and welcoming hug. I hope you get to enjoy a piece on your own porch, with your own beloved book and special family member at your side.

Litehouse Pecan in Pans and Batter Litehouse Pecan in Pans and Batter

 

 

Lower-Fat Caramel Apple Carrot Cake

Serves 12 | Finish in 1 hour (not including cooling time)
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What would one do without October?! An ooey-gooey slice of my seasonal Lower-Fat Caramel Apple Carrot Cake is a ripe recipe for creating special memories. Enjoy the slower pace of life and a sweet moment stolen with a special friend or beloved book.

Ingredients

2 ½ cups finely chopped pecans divided,
1 cup whole wheat flour,
1 cup all-purpose flour,
2 teaspoons cinnamon,
½ teaspoon nutmeg,
¾ teaspoon salt,
2 teaspoons baking soda,
2 cups sugar (or equivalent if using an alternative),
¾ cup light olive oil,
¾ reduced-fat milk,
3 large eggs,
1 teaspoon vanilla extract,
2 cups peeled and grated Granny Smith Apples (approximately 2 medium),
2 cups grated carrots,
1 tub (16-oz) Litehouse Food’s Low-Fat Caramel Dip divided,
1 tub (8-oz) non-dairy fat-free whipped topping thawed,
Garnish: Reserved pecans and caramel sauce,

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and prep two 9-inch round cake pans with a heavy coating of cooking spray.

Reserve ¼ cup of chopped pecans, set aside for use as garnish later. Reserve another 1 cup of pecans, set aside for use in batter later. Divide remaining portion of pecans (1 ¼ cups) in half and sprinkle each half (3/4 cup) into the bottom of prepared cake pan; lightly shake to distribute evenly.

In medium bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda until combined.

In a separate large bowl, mix together sugar, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla until blended. Fold in grated apples, carrots and 1 cup of reserved pecans; stir until just blended.

Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little at a time, stirring until incorporated.

Pour batter evenly among the two pecan-prepared cake pans. Bake on middle rack of oven at 350 F degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick pulls clean.

Remove cake layers to wire rack and let cool completely. Set in refrigerator if you need to expedite the process.

Place one cake layer, pecan side down, on a platter. Spread top of cake with approximately 4 ounces of caramel (room temperature or microwave of 15 seconds for easier application). Top with second cake layer, pecan side down. Spread top layer with 3 ounces of remaining caramel (1 ounce will remain in tub).

Dollop whipped topping on top of cake and spread with spatula to smooth. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce and sprinkle with reserved pecans.


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