SPICED CARROT CAKE PROTEIN CUPCAKES
These Spiced Carrot Cake Protein Cupcakes have all that sweet spice, rich frosting, and super moist texture that makes carrot cake the best cake in existence (just my humble opinion). These low-sugar, low-fat, high-protein cupcakes are on another level scrumptious! They just so happen to be gluten-free, too. Now you can have the ultimate carrot cake cupcake experience without a whop ton of calories or sugar 😉
What makes these cupcakes so good?
The secret is in the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves… all in much larger quantities than I originally thought necessary! But oh my gosh, the flavor is so amazing – you just have to trust me. It’s like a carrot spice cake, hence the name “spiced carrot cake protein cupcakes.” You could also use two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice if you don’t wish to purchase all the individual spices 😉
I’ve also found that using a brown sugar alternative adds a richer element of sweetness that makes these especially crave-worthy. Some brands of brown sugar alternatives include Lakanto Golden, Swerve Brown, Truvia Brown Sugar (use half as much), and Sukrin Gold. You can totally substitute a stevia blend, baking stevia, regular granulated erythritol, or monk fruit sweetener in place of the brown sugar alternative! Or use an equal measure of coconut sugar if you don’t mind the extra carbs and sugar.
You can really use any sweetener you like – just be mindful of the conversion! Some sweeteners (like the one I used) measure 1:1 like sugar, while others are twice as sweet (2:1) or less sweet. Adjust accordingly!
Most carrot cake cupcakes have more carbs and fat than anything else, but this recipe is loaded with protein, thanks to a couple scoops of cinnamon whey blend protein powder. I used Quest brand in Vanilla Milkshake flavor, but any blend of whey isolate and casein should work great. Whey concentrate is another good option, but whey isolate by itself usually makes baked goods crumbly, dry or sponge-like and weird. I have not tried a plant-based protein powder in this specific recipe, but it should work as well!
This recipe uses a combination of gluten-free baking flour and coconut flour to keep the carbs down without losing that fluffy texture. If you need to substitute the baking flour, I would suggest all-purpose flour (not gluten-free), cake flour, cassava flour (Paleo), fine oat flour, spelt flour (not gluten-free), sorghum flour, or whole wheat flour. You can also substitute the coconut flour for twice as much of any of the aforementioned flours! Almond flour can be substituted 2:1 for gluten-free baking flours and the like (2 cups for every 1 cup regular flour). If substituting almond flour for coconut flour, start with three times as much!
Instead of oil or butter, this recipe uses unsweetened applesauce to add moisture. You can add 1-2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil for added richness, but this is optional.
I also used a packed cup and a half of grated carrot for lots of carrot flavor and extra texture! Nothing like getting your veggies in cupcake form 😉 Does the thought of grating all that carrot make you shudder? Buy shredded carrots and throw them in a blender or food processor!
The egg whites can be substituted for one whole egg… or egg replacer if you’re allergic to eggs.
Cream cheese frosting
The frosting is a simple cream cheese protein frosting made with Greek cream cheese (can sub reduced fat cream cheese, Neufchatel cheese, or whipped cream cheese), nonfat plain Greek yogurt, a scoop of vanilla whey blend protein, calorie-free sweetener (use sweetener of choice), vanilla extract, and a tiny bit of pure almond extract. That almond extract makes such a wonderful difference! I had to restrain myself from eating all the frosting before the cupcakes come out of the oven (oops).
Here’s the recipe for these Spiced Carrot Cake Protein Cupcakes! Please leave a comment below if you try it 🙂
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Spiced Carrot Cake Protein Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup (60g) vanilla whey blend protein powder* I used Quest brand in Vanilla Milkshake
- 2/3 cup calorie-free sweetener* I used a brown sugar alternative
- 1/3 cup (40g) gluten-free baking flour*
- 1/3 cup coconut flour*
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon*
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg*
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger*
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves* can substitute pumpkin pie spice for individual spices
- 1 1/2 cup carrot finely grated
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or milk of choice
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup (2 large) egg whites*
- 1 tbsp. melted coconut oil optional
- 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 6 oz. Greek cream cheese* or Neufchatel cheese, reduced fat cream cheese, whipped cream cheese
- 6 oz. nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup (40g) vanilla whey blend protein powder* I used Quest brand in Vanilla Milkshake
- 1/3 cup calorie-free sweetener*
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. almond extract optional
*See blog post above for substitutions.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (through cloves) in a large mixing bowl.
- Add finely grated carrot and remaining wet ingredients (through vanilla), mixing just until combined.
- Line wells of a muffin tin with paper, silicone, or foil cupcake liners. Or, omit the liners and just spray the wells of a nonstixk muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Divide batter between wells, three-quarters of the way to the top.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.
- While your cupcakes cool, mix together frosting ingredients until smooth.
- Spoon frosting into a piping bag (or a sealable baggie with one corner cut off) to decorate your cupcakes (or just spread with a knife)! Garnish with more grated carrot, nuts and unsweetened coconut if desired (not included in the nutrition facts).
- Enjoy right away or store in the fridge up to one week in a sealed container (no preservatives). These can also be frozen and then thawed at room temperature (or using the defrost setting on your microwave).
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