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Spiced Carrot Cakes with Candied Carrots

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Serves eight.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 97

Candied carrots and a finer crumb set this variation apart from traditional carrot cake.

For the cakes
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened; more for the molds
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the molds
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground star anise
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios (for garnish)
For the candied carrots
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into long julienne strands to yield 1 cup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
Make the cakes

Combine the carrot juice and ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 8 baba au rhum molds (2-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches tall), Set aside on a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, allspice, cinnamon, star anise, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. On medium-low speed, add one of the eggs, mix until mostly blended, and then add the second egg. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the carrot reduction in two additions each. Mix each addition until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared molds, filling each a little more than half full. Swirl the batter with a skewer to smooth the tops. Bake the cakes until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and then carefully invert to remove from the molds. Cool the cakes upright on the rack. The cakes may be served warm or at room temperature.

Make the candied carrots

Bring the sugar and 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the carrots, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are translucent, soft, and slightly sticky to the touch, about 30 minutes. Discard the cinnamon and star anise. Remove the carrots with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve the syrup.

To serve, dip each cake in the syrup for about 3 seconds, put it on a dessert plate, and drizzle with about 1 tsp. syrup. Garnish with the candied carrots and pistachios.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the cakes up to 1 day ahead and the candied carrots up to 2 hours ahead.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 460; Fat (g): fat g 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 85; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 200; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 75; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Based on flavor alone I would have to give this recipe 5 stars HOWEVER I was hugely disappointed in the texture. My cakes came out gummy and dense. Is this by design or did I over work my batter? I will give this another shot although I will definately have a back up plan if I intend to serve this for company.

These small cakes were the perfect ending to a multi-course meal. I couldn't get my hands on the cake molds, so I used a popover pan (which yielded me six cakes). I made the glaze and carrots earlier in the day (next time I'll do it the day before) and warmed them up prior to serving. I also made the cakes a day ahead, but they are so simple that, the next time, I will plan to make them on the same day. The carrot juice and ginger reduction could be prepared the day before, as well. Bought salted pistachios by accident, so I substituted with walnuts. Very flavorful dessert without being too sweet or heavy.

This is the first time I've ever seen a carrot cake recipe with so little oil or butter!! It sounds great!! Does anyone know if it can be made in a muffin tin or with cupcake wrappers? I don't have a baba au rhum pan. Thanks

I love these tasty little cakes. Wonderfull update to the classic carrot cake recipe

I love this twist on carrot cakes. Taking the carrots out of the cake and putting them on top is brilliant.

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