Featured Ingredient: Carrots
We are still desperately waiting for spring to arrive here in Ontario. The weather just plain out sucks. Which means turning to food for comfort. And what could be more comforting than carrot cake? The spring issue of Food & Drink magazine (a mag we get here in the liquor store and one of my favs) includes a number of delish looking carrot cakes so Tabi and I wanted to try an adaptation of one in the trusty muffin tray. Of course, we needed to cut back on the sugar and fat to make them a little less of a guilty pleasure.
You could do a lot worse than carrots as a main ingredient in baked goods. Bugs Bunny’s favorite food is a great source of fiber, vitamin K, potassium and beta-carotene. Besides being converted to vitamin A in the body to improve bone, eye and immune healthy, beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to mop up those nefarious free-radicals. Several studies suggest that a diet rich in beta-carotene can confer protection against a number of different forms of cancer.
We have my partner Tabi to thank for these to-die-for individual carrot cakes. You Rock!
I had some cashew cream leftover from a recipe I developed for a magazine article and thought it would go well on the cakes. Boy does it ever. A match made in culinary heaven indeed. You’ll never miss the icing!
Individual Carrot Cakes with Cashew Maple Cream
1/3 cup unsalted, raw cashews
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soak cashews in water for at least 2 hours. Place cashews in a blender along with just enough water to barely cover them. Process until smooth. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract; blend until combined.
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/3 cup dried cherries, currants or raisins
1/3 cup walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the carrots, cherries, and walnuts. Divide among 12 medium sized muffin cups. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Slice in half and top with cashew cream.