When I was a kid, I didn’t realize that carrot cake actually had carrots in it. We got the kind with the frosted orange carrots arranged in a circle atop cream cheese frosting. Once I was served carrot cake without the frosted carrots and declared that it was not the real deal. When someone pointed out the shredded carrots speckling the cake, I was slightly disgusted. Carrots in a dessert? Yuck!
I’ve since gotten over this, and carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts . I always associate this cake with Easter. It probably has something to do with associating carrots with bunnies, and bunnies with Easter. No matter the reason, to me, carrot cake is as Easter-y as pumpkin pie is Thanksgiving-y. I was shocked this past November when Alex requested it as his preferred birthday dessert. I even chided him, letting him know I thought it was not appropriate for the season. I quickly took that back (remembering that it was his birthday after all) and made a fabulous, particularly spicy carrot cake with ginger cream cheese frosting.
- 1 box (15 oz) Betty Crocker® Gluten Free yellow cake mix
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup finely shredded carrots (2 medium)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional- I don’t use them)
from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern
8 ounces cream cheese
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
3-4 cups powdered sugar
coconut flakes, for decoration, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease one round 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Combine the cake mix, the water, the butter, the spices, the vanilla, and the eggs in a large bowl. Then add the carrots (and optional nuts). Mix until combined well. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 33-38 minutes for the 9×9 pan and between 36-41 for the 8×8 pan. The cake is done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool before you frost it.
To make the frosting (which I do while the cake is baking), combine the cream cheese, butter, and spices in a bowl until creamy and smooth. This is much, much easier in an electric mixer, as the cream cheese is quite dense. Then, add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and slowly if you are using an electronic mixer to prevent the sugar from going everywhere. 3 cups should be sufficient, but add more sugar if you like it sweeter and thicker.
Frost the cake and sprinkle coconut flakes for decoration if so desired.