There were a few carrots lurking in the bottom of the fridge that had seen better days. They hadn’t turned to compost but I definitely rescued them in time when I made this carrot cake yesterday. Back in January, I shared a ridiculously rich salted caramel and spiced carrot cake and I am pleased to report that it has become a bit of a hit among some of my friends via the power of Facebook.
Again, I wanted spices but I started thinking about halwa, especially carrot halwa, a sticky Indian pudding that I first encountered properly when I lived in Dubai. It is an insanely sweet dessert but it was my starting point – I began by grating the carrots and marinating them in honey and ginger while I got on with the rest of the preparations for my latest carrot cake incarnation. This is not the fastest cake to throw together but trust me, the results are worth it.
For the spices, I used ginger again but added cardamom and pistachio nuts, all ground up in my mortar and pestle. These added a hint of Indian flavour plus the pistachios reminded me of umm ali, another absurdly sweet treat that I also discovered in Dubai. It is an Egyptian dessert that has gained traction over the centuries right across North Africa and the Middle East.
The ginger and caramel in the cream cheese frosting hinted at my earlier carrot cake – then I decorated it with some leftover pistachio nuts as a hint of the nutty green flecks that make this latest version so pretty and colourful when you cut it.
I’ve already posted a picture of this carrot cake on my Facebook page and it has proven to be a very popular picture indeed – I’d best get this recipe online so my friends can make it for themselves and I don’t have to set up a one-woman carrot cake delivery service across the UK!