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Spicy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Spicy carrot cake

My new favourite, go-to cake recipe is this carrot cake slathered in thick swathes of cream cheese frosting. Full of warm spices — ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a pinch of cloves — it’s a more complex flavour profile than your regular ol’ carrot cake. The shredded carrots keep it moist, and the cream cheese frosting keeps it heavenly.

I first made this carrot cake for a holiday party a couple months ago. It was absolutely delicious, but unfortunately lacked any and all structural integrity because of my ambition: I had made a four-layer cake with my tiny six-inch pan. That’s a lotta height, and not a lotta width to support it. While this might not have been so disastrous, I also neglected to level the domed tops. I thought they were already flat enough. It quickly became clear I was wrong, as I piled uneven cakes on top of each other, one by one. With each wee cake, it leaned farther to the side, like a delectable Tower of Pisa. It held together long enough that I could serve the cake, with copious amounts of cream cheese frosting and a chopstick stabbed through the centre as support. Still, I was determined to redeem myself.

Delicious spicy carrot cake topped with thick cream cheese frosting and ginger molasses cookies

For my second attempt, I halved the recipe to only two layers. I topped it with ginger molasses cookies. And it was amazing. While the cake is perfectly delicious sans cookies, this adds a nice texture contrast, and also complements the mix of spices in the carrot cake. Read on for the ginger molasses and carrot cake recipes!

GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

Recipe via All Recipes.
You will need:

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp. golden sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt) together in a bowl. Add the margarine, 1 cup of sugar, egg, water, and molasses. Mix thoroughly until perfectly smooth, with no lumps. All of the dry ingredients should be completely incorporated.

Scoop with a spoon and roll into balls, then flatten slightly on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with golden sugar on top. Once the oven is ready, pop your cookie sheet in for eight to 10 minutes. Your cookies will be perfectly soft and chewy when done. Once the cookies are cooled, set aside about five to crumble up and top your cake. Enjoy the rest with spicy chai or a glass of milk.

Spicy carrot cake

CARROT CAKE

Recipe via Dessarts.

For the cake, you will need:

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 and 1/2 cups grated carrots
3/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger (optional)

For the frosting, you will need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 and 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter up your six-inch pan, so it will be ready for your tasty batter. Stir together oil, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and nutmeg. Add your flour and baking soda, and mix until well-incorporated. Toss in your shredded carrots, walnuts, and candied ginger. Stir well. Divide your batter evenly between two pans (or, if you only have one pan like me, divide evenly between your pan and a large bowl. You can use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter into the cake pan once the first layer is done baking). Bake for roughly 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean. Cool your cakes completely before you attempt to frost them.

Speaking of frosting, let’s get to that part of the recipe! I find it easiest to make the frosting when the butter and cream cheese are both quite soft. As I don’t have a beater, I just pop them in the microwave a couple of times (on very short bursts — we’re talkin’ 10 second intervals), until just soft enough to stir easily. They shouldn’t be melted. Using some elbow grease, or a beater if you have it, mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in your salt and vanilla, then beat in the confectioners sugar. It’ll be thick, creamy, and hard to resist sneaking a taste. Try to resist though: the more frosting that gets on your cake, the better.

I’ve given some tips on frosting cakes in my dark chocolate cake recipe, but a few quick tips:

  • Level your domed tops. Don’t make the same mistakes I did!
  • Parchment paper is your pal.
  • Yes to an off-set spatula if you can get your hands on one.
  • Yes to a cake stand if you can get your cake on one. It helps when you’re turning the cake to spread out the frosting more evenly.
  • Be generous with the frosting, and just keep smoothing it out.

Start with one layer. Top with cream cheese frosting, and spread it out. Crumble your ginger molasses cookies on top of this first layer of cream cheese frosting. Top off with your second cake layer. Spread out your cream cheese frosting again. If you have enough leftover, cover the sides of the cake with frosting as well; or, save the frosting to pair with your leftover ginger molasses cookies (so tasty!). Top with ginger molasses cookies again. One tip: crumble your cookies a bit smaller than I did mine. The cookies tasted great, but looked a little dumb in such large chunks.

Enjoy your cake! This is a relatively quick one to whip together, especially if you make the cookies ahead of time. I’ve gotten compliments on both my carrot cake attempts, so I’d say this one’s a winner.

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