I do realize this is not a topical post. There is a big football game happening on Sunday. I should be making party foods. Turns out, grandma had no recipes for nachos or jalapeno poppers. Instead, this is a completely self-serving post. Today is national carrot cake day, (Have I mentioned how I’m both completely intrigued, yet totally confused by these national food days?), but this carrot cake is really a vindication. A few months ago, we were going to our friends’ house for dinner. I insisted, insisted, on them letting us bring something and they finally caved and said I could bring dessert. At some point during my baking, I realized that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong with my carrot zucchini mini cake. I’ve made this recipe a zillion times, so I don’t know what distracted mistake I made, but what I was left with was a little 6-inch rock, with no time to make, or even buy, something else.
Our friends were, of course, lovely about it, because we have great friends. But deep down (or quite obviously), I was both mortified and determined to redeem myself.
This recipe is not one of grandma’s either. It’s actually a version of my mom’s zucchini bread that she got from God-knows-where. The ingredients are the same, but changing the proportions slightly takes them from a denser bread, to a lighter cake. I had to try a couple of times, but I think we’ve got it. Also, feel free to play around with the spices. I like a spicy carrot cake, but if you prefer just cinnamon (or that’s all you have on hand and you don’t want to go buy several other expensive bottles of spices), you could do that too.
For the frosting, cream cheese is the obvious choice. I love cream cheese, but I love, love, love maple syrup. I put it in everything, including my coffee. I’m turning into Buddy from Elf. I thought maple cream cheese frosting would go well with this spicy cake. I was not wrong.
Carrot Zucchini Snack Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp coriander
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 1/4 cups zucchini, shredded
1 1/4 cups carrot, shredded
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup maple syrup, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8×8-inch pan, and line with parchment paper so that you leave “handles” exposed above the height of the pan.
Wash well 1 medium zucchini and 3 medium carrots. Shave the rough skin off the carrot. The zucchini’s skin can be left intact. Grate 2 1/2 cups of a combination of zucchini and carrots.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and coriander.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, honey, vanilla, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Add the grated vegetables to the mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for 32-35 minutes. Begin checking for doneness at 32 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the middle.
When done, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in pan for about 5-10 minutes. Then remove from the pan with the parchment paper “handles” and allow to cool for an additional 45 minutes to an hour on a cooling rack.
For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and maple syrup.
Once the cake has cooled completely, frost cake and serve.
Chock full of veggies, but still rich and delicious. I think the little orange and green flecks throughout are cool. If you have kids, they probably won’t like that, but I don’t know what to tell you. Get better kids? Tell them they’re Lucky Charms marshmallows? I’m not a parent, clearly.