Yahoo! told me recently that carrot cake is a traditional Easter dessert. Easter is kind of a big holiday here, with bank closures on Friday and Monday (and some businesses too). I assume everyone will go to church tomorrow, but I like the idea of celebrating in a culinary fashion (tonight I’m apparently having fish pie). I’m not a big fan of carrot cake, but I do love the cream cheese frosting. So I thought I could see if I could figure out a version that I’d find tasty. I’m not sure what I don’t really like – I think it’s the weird stringy carrots and the greasiness. Plus it’s so super sweet. I’ve also discovered recently that I’m not really a cake fan – I much prefer denser chewier pastries (flaky pastries excepted).
So I dug around the internet for a bit trying to find a recipe that either fit the bill, or seemed easily modifiable. What I ended up with was a mix of two of my go-to sites: Simply Recipes and 101 Cookbooks. The first is more of a typical recipe, but it did give me some sense of proportions, temperature and timing for cupcakes. The second is more my kind of baked good, though I do like a bit more spice. So between the two, I fashioned more of an iced carrot muffin, a bit denser, not crumby, and much less sweet, but with some body and a good mouthfeel. And a heck of a lot of carrots.
I don’t have a good recipe for this, since I eyeballed most of my ingredients and added more when I felt the batter didn’t quite suit. I am also working with an oven with a faulty thermostat, so there was some element of guesswork on temperature and timing. But, if anything, that makes the whole thing more forgiving, so if anyone wants to duplicate, here’s a general idea of what I worked with:
makes 12 cupcakes
zest of one orange, finely minced
4 dates, finely minced and a bit mashed
1 small banana, mashed
2 eggs, room temperature
300g shredded carrots
0,5 tsp vanilla (vanilla bean would be nice too)
0.75 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp honey
3-4 tbsp maple syrup
0.5 cup buttermilk or thinned yogurt
1.5 cups flour + 2-3 tbsps
0.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp nutmeg
0.5 tsp ginger
(can add cardamom, cloves, allspice, etc, too!)
200g cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp maple syrup
(can add additional sweetener of any kind here, I ended up adding 3 tbsp of powdered sugar too)
1. Combine orange zest, dates, and banana in a small bowl. Mix and mash til well combined.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add carrots, vanilla, coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, and yogurt, and combine well.
3. In separate bowl, combine, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
4. Fold dry ingredients into wet, and avoid overmixing. If too wet, add more flour; if too dry, add more coconut oil or buttermilk. My batter was very thick and not at all runny, which yields a more bread-like consistency vs cake.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes at 175 C (take them out when slightly underdone), and let cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, combine the cream cheese with the maple syrup and other sweeteners as desired. As a note, this makes a somewhat runny frosting, so some coconut oil or butter might give it better structure. After frosting, store muffins in refrigerator.
And enjoy! I might try adding some orange juice to the batter next time, or possibly some zest to the cream cheese frosting. I suppose you can add some spice to the frosting too. I would love those little frosting carrots too, but I couldn’t be bothered to make them. A sprinkling of desiccated coconut on top could be tasty too (tossed in a little sugar or toasted maybe?).