My brother John traditionally serves a Chocolate Chestnut Torte for dessert at Easter dinner, which he always hosts.
It’s delicious. John delights in serving the naturally gluten-free torte, because he knows everyone will thoroughly enjoy it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find his recipe as I prepared to write this column.
So, wracking my brain for the perfect Easter dessert, I started the word association game. OK, beginning with Easter led me to chocolate and, from there, to candy-laden baskets — then rabbits, which in turn led to carrots.
Hmm, carrots for dessert? But of course, carrot cake, something I had yet to write about.
Carrot cake works as a favorite dessert for just about every occasion. I had all of the ingredients on hand and thought it would be a good one to share for Easter.
I found it interesting that the dessert dates to the 1500s, when carrots first got used in cakes, or at least first got documented in a recipe. Carrots provided sweetness when sugar grew scarce and costly. In the 1960s, carrot cake finally gained popularity in the United States. By the 1970s, it ranked among the nation’s top five favorite cakes.
You’ll find this cake extremely moist, and I’m sure your guests will come back for seconds.
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
1/2 cup of pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
3-1/2 cups of grated carrots (approximately 1 pound)
2 cups of gluten-free flour*
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 extra large eggs
1 cup of canola oil
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of raisons (optional)
*For gluten free flour I use:
1-¼ cups of sorghum flour
1-¼ cups of white rice flour
1 cup of potato starch (not flour)
1 cup of sweet rice flour
Preheat oven to 350°. Position the rack in the upper part of the oven.
Prepare three 9-inch cake pans and set aside. As the oven preheats, bring the eggs to room temperature and chop the pecans. (The frosting recipe calls for more pecans.)
Once the oven has heated, spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Once toasted, let them cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt until well blended. On a low speed and using the paddle attachment, add the oil and eggs and blend well. It will seem rather dry. Add the carrots and continue mixing. Gradually it will seem more like cake batter. Once it has blended, increase the speed to medium high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of the pecans and the raisons to the batter and blend well. Pour 1/3 of the batter into each of the cake pans, then place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. When done, let cool completely (cool to the touch) before icing, maybe after an hour or two.
Cream cheese frosting
16 ounces of cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons of butter
7 cups of confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups pecans, chopped and toasted (optional)
In the bowl of stand mixer, on a medium to high speed, blend the cream cheese and butter. Once blended, light and creamy, add the vanilla. Turn the speed to low and add the confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the cream. (This can be made ahead of time, but be sure to bring to room temperature so it will spread easily.
Frost the cake and apply the nuts to the sides. Keep the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.