I always think of carrot cake as a Fall dessert, with its warm spices and hues that match the leaves starting to turn colors. But I know there are people who think of it as Easter fare, because of the (fake) Easter Bunny and all. Don’t get me started…I covered that in the Spring. Let’s just say this carrot cake with blissful cream cheese frosting is perfect any time of year. I’ve been making it since 2010, and it always gets rave reviews.
I have to give props to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for the perfect cake batter, which contains only a bit of oil but bakes up moist because it includes some applesauce and water. Genius! The cake is nice and smooth, with no chunks of nuts or pineapple to interfere with the wonderful texture. (You can always sprinkle some chopped walnuts onto the finished cake.)
I didn’t mess with the batter, but I cut the sugar in the frosting by almost half. For me, two cups of sugar in cream cheese frosting are plenty. It’s enough to be lightly sweet, yet nicely tangy. And I bumped up the ratio of frosting to cake, because…yum!!
I’m calling the frosting “blissful,” since, besides tasting delicious (there’s whipped cream in there!), it’s an example of the food science term known as “bliss point.” The bliss point refers to the optimal amount of an ingredient — like sugar, salt or fat — needed to provide maximum enjoyment. Once you go past your bliss point by adding more sugar, pleasure starts to decrease proportionately. (This is why I find grocery store cakes sickeningly sweet.)
Interestingly, children have a much higher sugar bliss point than adults. Case in point: I used to enjoy candy corn around Halloween as a kid, but when I tried one as a grownup, I had to run to the garbage and spit it out. Whoa! Very, very, unblissful. (In case you’re wondering, you can read more about the bliss point and other secrets of the food industry in Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss.)
Anyway…back to this carrot cake with blissful cream cheese frosting. My son requested it for his 21st birthday, and I gladly obliged. I made it in a 9×13 pan, which is easy, casual and just how I roll. But I’ve included notes for a more fancy-looking three-layer cake, which my artistic son has been known to produce.
However you decide to serve it, run, don’t walk, to make this recipe. Enjoy!
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, where it was adapted from Alisha O.)