My Mom’s favorite cake is carrot cake, so for Mother’s Day this past weekend I wanted to make her something special. After scouring the web for fun carrot cake recipes, I stumbled upon a Tropical Carrot Cake (recipe) on Epicurious (which is my favorite ipad app!), which besides carrots included pineapple, crystalized ginger, macadamia nuts and coconut. One word — YUM.
Basically, I just blended up a portion of the flour with the nuts, coconut, and ginger (I used a little less ginger than it called for and I’m happy I did – that flavor is strong!) then combined that with the dry ingredients. After adding all the wet ingredients, I filled some small cupcakes and some regular sized cupcakes and even one little cake too. (1 revision for next time — More Carrots. The carrot flavor is a little overshadowed by all the other things happening in the cake) Overall the cake was SUPER moist and packed with lots of flavor. I especially loved the little kicks of the crystallized ginger. Not overpowering. Just enough.
The frosting recipe also called for coconut milk and coconut extract (which I couldn’t find). I really didn’t like how the coconut milk watered down the frosting and I found that it just didn’t add the right flavor. I know the extract would have helped, but I wouldn’t use the milk again. I ended up remaking the frosting the next morning (adding more butter) to stiffen it up because it was way too loose with all the coconut milk (and I didn’t even use the amount called for in the recipe).
I then had WAY too much frosting (and wanted some more carrot flavor) so I mixed in some of the extra shredded carrots and cream cheese frosting, then filled some of the regular sized cupcakes with that mixture. As you can see, I color coded the frosting to remember which ones were filled.
I brought all of the cupcakes to my Mom’s house on the South Shore and she loved them! We ended up bringing some over to her her neighbors and even packaged up a few more up for some of her friends. The funny part is that she made her famous individual apple crisps (my favorite) and after devouring one on Saturday night I took the other home for later. It ended up being like a little dessert swap.
We gardened and mulched all weekend, indulged in sweets and went out for fantastic breakfasts and dinners. All in all – great little Mother’s Day weekend.
She later texted me to tell me that the cupcakes were calling her from the fridge. ha. They were delicious and I’m so happy she enjoyed them! After all – that’s what it’s all about.
I’m definitely going to keep this recipe on deck and try it again soon!!
Tropical Carrot Cake Recipe:
- 2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts
- 3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups finely grated peeled carrots
- 2 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained
- 3 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- squeeze of lemon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1/3 cup flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Process until nuts are finely chopped. Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in coconut-macadamia mixture, then carrots and crushed pineapple.
Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes for regular sized cupcakes and 12 – 15 minutes for the mini cupcakes. I check to make sure the cupcake tops spring back when you touch them. The timing will depend on your oven.
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, both extracts and a squeeze of lemon. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.