tomatoes.” “I loathe mushrooms.” “Ewwwww.... Brussels sprouts?” “Sweet potato
casserole is a crime against nature.” “Carrot cake is just plain wrong.” Or, so
the haters say.
I have heard
these things all my life and, as soon as I hear them, my natural reaction is to
say, “But you haven't had my [fill in the blank].”
When I first
met Markipedia, there was a short list of things he preferred to avoid.
Naturally, I saw this as a challenge.
I took the
reverse approach to everything he disliked. He hated the sweetening of sweet
potatoes, so I made them savory. Now, he can't get enough. The smell and
texture of those little cabbages from Brussels made his nose wrinkle. I cut
them into a chiffonade and sautéed them with butter and hazelnuts, and it
became an instant favorite.
however, presented a bigger problem. His objections, while strong, were numerous.
Too sweet. Oily. Over-spiced. Weird texture. Worst of all, that gloppy
frosting. What was I going to do? While carrot cake wasn't really one of my
favorites either, I still wanted to rise to the challenge and make a carrot
cake that Mark would request again.
received a lovely cookbook from my friend, Susan; it is Deborah Madison's
Vegetable Literacy. Who would have thought it would have good dessert recipes,
as well as beautiful and flavorful vegetable dishes? Each recipe is a gem, one right after the other. And It is a wonderful platform for all the vegetables I get from my friendly vendors at the farmers market: Larry's Veggies, Grammy's Garden, and Sleeping Frog Farms, to name a few.
The first day
I cracked the spine, I found her carrot cake recipe. It looked so beautiful,
with the perfect texture, and not at all carrot-y. I was pretty sure I had
found "the recipe."
More than a
year later, I finally made this carrot cake, and am proud to report that Mark
said, "You should make this again." Success! In only twenty years!
If you love
the carrot cake Mark dislikes, don't think of this as a carrot cake. Think of
it as a really wonderful almond cake made with carrots. Either way, I can
pretty much tell you that you will love it for what it is: delicious!
to the final frontier: developing an acorn squash recipe that doesn’t trigger a
Calvin-&-Hobbes-style display of revulsion.
Cake with Ricotta Cream
Madison's Vegetable Literacy, with my adaptations in blue in parentheses
(unsalted) butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup plus
2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups
unbleached cake flour
(large pinch) salt
4 large eggs
(I used 1/2 teaspoon) almond extract
scant 2 cups
grated carrots, preferably yellow (use small holes on the grater)
1 cup ricotta
1 cup sour
of 1 lemon
sugar, for dusting
Heat the oven
to 375°F. Melt the 4 tablespoons butter and set it aside to cool.
almonds with the lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food
processor. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and then dust the sides with some of
the almond mixture. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
electric mixer, beat together the eggs and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar on high
speed until pale, foamy, and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low
and add the remaining ground almond mixture, the almond extract, and finally
the flour mixture, incorporating it just until well mixed. Pour the cooled
butter over the batter and then quickly fold it in, followed by the carrots.
batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and put the cake in the center of
the oven. Lower the heat to 350°F and bake the cake until it is springy to the
touch in the center, lightly browned, and beginning to pull away from the
sides, 40 to 45 minutes (I would check at 35 minutes). Let cool completely in
its pan, then release the spring and slide the cake onto a platter.
To make the
ricotta cream, work together the ricotta, sour cream, honey, and zest by hand
or with a mixer until smooth. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients, if
needed. The cream will thin out as it sits, forming a nice sauce for the cake. Just before
serving, dust the cake with the confectioner's sugar. Serve the sauce