1) I consider both carrot cake and red velvet cake merely vehicles for cream cheese frosting.
2) As some of you have heard before, I am not a fan of chocolate as most people are.
Having recently received a copy of Chocolate: A Love Story from Little Brown, I wasn't quite sure what I would tackle first. Let me say that this is one of the most visually moving and interesting cookbooks I've gotten in a long time – more a food coffee table book than a cookbook, per se. The graphic design elements in the book are like nothing I've ever seen from a cookbook. I was in a full swoon as soon as I opened it.
Trying hard to focus on the recipes as much as I was the design of the book, I got sidetracked as to what I would make first. Flipping through the pages in need of a dessert for a dinner party, I spied a carrot cake. SOLD! Wait…there's no frosting. There's no cream cheese frosting. Keep movin' along then. After I went through the rest of the book, I came back to that carrot cake recipe. A simple cake – something both Mike and I are fans of – chock full of candied ginger, dates, and a just a smattering of chocolate to sweeten things up.
My first words of wisdom about this recipe are: the batter is a little scary. There is no sugar in this cake – it uses only honey as the sweetening agent. When I tasted the batter before pouring it in the pan, it tasted very mild and almost flour-y. Very thick and gloppy and intimidating. Don't worry – just make sure all of your ingredients are equally combined in the batter and throughout the pan.
I used a mixture of finely and coarsely grated carrots for a little more "tooth" in the cake – something everyone enjoyed. Being fans more of darker chocolate than its sweeter counterpart, I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate in mine – use whichever you prefer. For my dinner party dessert, I served it with a little maple ginger snap ice cream. The combination was a huge hit. You could also serve this with some cream cheese ice cream as a witty take on the classic.
I have a copy of Chocolate: A Love Story to give away, courtesy of Little Brown. All you have to do to win this cookbook is leave a comment after this post and tell me what your favorite chocolate indulgence is. A random winner will be chosen at 10 am EST on Friday, November 20th. Please, please, please make sure to include an email address somewhere so I can contact you if you're the winner!
Modest Carrot Cake – makes between 6 and 8 generous servings – recipe originally from Chocolate: A Love Story by Max Brenner
– Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan.
– In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and honey until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the milk and orange juice.
– In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the carrots, dates, ginger and chocolate until just combined.
– Pour the batter into the prepared pan and rap the pan a few times against the counter to knock out any air bubbles. Bake until the crust is a light golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.