Whole wheat flour and Greek yogurt keep these cakes flavorful and moist while adding fiber and protein. Each cake gets 1 teaspoon of sweet cream cheese glaze-far fewer calories than the multiple tablespoons of frosting piled onto your typical cupcake.
Pan release spray, for greasing
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup 2-percent Greek yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
3 cups shredded carrot (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel cheese), at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine salt
Pecan halves, golden raisins and/or ground cinnamon, for garnish, optional
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray twelve 4-ounce mini loaf pans or a 12-cup regular muffin pan with pan release spray.
Spread the pecans out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool and then pulse in a food processor until very finely chopped but not ground.
Combine the chopped pecans, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the brown sugar, yogurt, oil, vanilla extract, lemon zest and eggs in another bowl. Stir the carrots into the egg mixture. Fold the carrot-egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Divide evenly among the prepared pans. (Don’t be alarmed if the batter seems skimpy; the cakes will rise once baked.)
Bake until the center of the cakes bounce back when pressed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
For the glaze: Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt in a medium bowl. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the glaze onto each cake and use the back of the spoon to spread. Garnish as desired.