Heat your spices
Chef and food writer Janelle Bloom says there's great power in heating spices before adding them to a carrot cake batter.
"You want the spice to be at its maximum capacity," Bloom says, who combines olive oil, cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan and cooks for two to three minutes.
She then adds the spice blend to a mixture of brown sugar, eggs, flour and bicarbonate of soda before carrying on with her mini carrot and apple-chip cakes.
Amp things up with some fruit
Lorraine Elliott, the food and travel blogger behind Not Quite Nigella, says, "To me, carrot cake is all about a wonderfully moist texture and tangy cream cheese frosting". Elliott has spent countless hours finessing her carrot cake recipe.
"I like the moisture that crushed pineapple adds to a carrot cake. Using tinned pineapple is totally fine for this," says Elliott.
Meanwhile, Bloom finishes her mini carrot cakes with some roasted apple chips. She uses a mandoline to slice pink lady apples so that they're "nice and thin" and places them on a wire rack. Then, Bloom sprinkles the slices with cinnamon sugar before baking in the oven at 100°C for about 1.5 hours.
Add brown butter to your cream-cheese frosting
Brown butter is a common contender for savoury dishes, but less prominent on the dessert front. Elliott says it's one of her favourite ingredients and as such her brown butter cream cheese recipe is one of her all-time favourite frostings.
"I always have brown butter in my fridge and add it to my baked goods, where it imparts an incredible nutty, delicious aroma and flavour."
Elliott adds brown butter — simply butter that has been cooked over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes til brown in colour — to her cream cheese icing, which also contains regular butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract.
Level up with some Biscoff
This tip is pure gold. To add another layer of spice to a carrot cake, Elliott adds some Biscoff spread (made from crushed Biscoff biscuits, which also contain cinnamon) in between the layers of her carrot cake.
"You want the spice to be at its maximum capacity."
"I've used Biscoff in a few cakes and I love it. I adore Biscoff cookies and spread because I love spices (my favourite drink is a chai latte). And it was the similarity of spices in both that made me want to add it in."
Finish off strong, with a maple syrup reduction
To wrap things up, Bloom reduces a combination of maple syrup and cinnamon "all the way down" so it almost has the consistency of honey.
She not only mixes the reduction into her cream cheese frosting, but drizzles it over the frosted carrot cake to finish. Need we say more?
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