That’s right, carrot cake for Valentine’s Day. No, this is not your typical Valentine’s Day fare of chocolates and confections.
But what makes something fit for this day of L-O-V-E? Does it have to be rich, decadent and sinful?
If so, would a thick layer of cream cheese frosting topped with white chocolate hearts (a.k.a. pepto bismol coloured blobs) on said carrot cake fit the bill?
I, apparently, was not blessed with the talent to make perfectly shaped chocolate hearts, but I digress.
Or is it the cute presentation and “fancy” packaging that makes it the perfect treat for your beloved? Cue adorable carrot cupcakes adorned with love birds and complete with its own box covered in perfectly symmetrical hearts.
But really, does any of this matter as long as it is enjoyed by the one for whom it was intended?
Happy Valentine’s Day to my Valentine!
P.S. I am no authority on carrot cake as I have always thought veggies in dessert to be odd. For this reason, I have to defer my review of this cake to the resident carrot cake eater and husband, who thankfully loved it! This carrot cake is delightfully moist, subtly sweet, with a hint of cinnamon and nut flavours and is totally satisfying.
Recipes (from the Miette cookbook by Meg Ray):
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup peeled and finely shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
- 1/2 cup shredded dried coconut
- about 2 cups cream cheese frosting
- Liberally butter three 5×3-in loaf pans or one 7×2-in cake pan and dust with sifted flour. Tap out excess flour.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Add sugar and eggs to bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until combined and lightened in colour (~2 minutes).
- Reduce speed to low, slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until combined, then whisk on high speed for 1 minute to emulsify.
- Switch to paddle attachment.
- Add dry ingredients in three additions and beat on medium speed until smooth (~2 minutes).
- Add carrots, currants, walnuts and coconut. Beat just to combine.
- Remove the bowl from mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
- Fold by hand a few more times with spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl to bring currants up from the bottom.
- Divide batter between the prepared pans.
- Bake until tops are golden and a tester (toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean (20-25 minutes for the small loaves and 40-45 minutes for the 7-in cake).
- Transfer to wire racks and let cool in pans for 20 minutes.
- Run an offset spatula (or knife) around the edges of the pans, then invert cakes onto racks and let cool for another 20 minutes.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate (at least 1 hour or up to 3 days) to ensure insides are completely cooled before decorating.
- To decorate, fit pastry bag with a medium (1/2- or 5/8-in) star tip and fill bag with frosting.
- Pull up the cuff and twist it to seal and tighten the frosting down into the cone.
- Purge the bag of air bubbles by squeezing the bag until there is a burst of air and frosting sputters out of bag.
- Keep the bag tightly twisted so that the frosting doesn’t come back up.
- Starting in the center, holding pastry bag at 90-degree angle, pipe frosting in a tight (loaf-shaped in the case of the small cakes) spiral over the top of each.
- Serve at room temperature.
*Batter can also be used to make 18-24 cupcakes. To make cupcakes, bake at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes, until tops spring back and tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Immediately transfer from pans to wire racks to cool.
Cream cheese frosting
*makes about 3 cups
- 2 cups (1 pound) cream cheese
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- To soften cream cheese, put in microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 10-second intervals, until completely squishy but not at all melted, stopping to check in between every interval. Set aside. (If butter is not fully room temperature, soften the same way.)
- Add butter and sugar to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
- Beat (on medium) until completely smooth and glossy.
- Add cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Use immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate (up to 2 weeks) until needed. Transfer cold frosting to a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until smooth before using, 2 or 3 minutes.
Notes and Tips:
I could not find a 7×2-in pan, so I used a 8×1.5-in pan instead and baked for 40 minutes. The batter was enough to make one 8-in cake plus 3 cupcakes. I used 250g light cream cheese with ~125g regular cream cheese (because I didn’t have enough), so I used 3/4 of the recommended butter and sugar. To make chocolate blobs, melt white chocolate, add gel colouring if desired, put in piping bag with round opening tip or just a plastic bag with a hole cut into it and pipe chocolate on parchment. Go nuts! If you have chocolate transfer sheets, put onto chocolate after piping. Put chocolate in fridge for 5-10 minutes until hardened and able to remove from parchment easily.