I always loved Carrot Cake, but never before attempted to make some.
My love for Carrot Cake goes back to one childhood memory that I may share with many that had the opportunity to visit Kayona Beach in Haiti back in the eighties, and had the delicious Carrot Cake that they served on Sundays.
Kayona Beach was this beautiful beach resort that holds two vivid memories in my heart. Carrot cake and the red firing Flamboyant trees by the beach, that seem to have burnt its magnificent souvenir in the minds of many others as well, as I can read from this blog, that has snap shot its greatness for the good of history.
“Flamboyant” as we call them in Haiti, is the perfect name for this tree, most commonly known as Delonix Regia, as the name in itself seems exactly as how one may see itl when in front of this exuberant, eye catching, majestic tree, filled of poignant red flowers, when in bloom, with all its flamboyant grandeur.
As a child, the sight of this tree on the beach left me mesmerized, and till today, I stop my car when I spot one in full bloom.
These types of vivid memories, whether visual like the memory of this tree at Kayona, or sensory like the feeling of the warm sand on my feet or the cooling temperature of the water, or intense gustative memory of the flavors of the spongy carrot cake, are in my mind so dense, almost like a Kodak photo, burnt in my brain processor forever. I have a very visual memory, that I know. But sometimes it scares me things I remember from childhood. Does that ever happen to you ? You get somewhere, you see something, and the feeling of having seen it before it so impeccable, that you go back in your memory to glance at the past, to kind of guarantee that it is not a déjà-vu that you are having, but that indeed, you did at one point travel to this place, or was exposed to this flavor.
Anyway, a large parenthesis about all the drawers of cognitive memory to explain that the beautiful Flamboyant’s when in bloom, turned all red and bursting in color like fire in the blue skies, and, well the Carrot Cake of Kayona, all inspired me to make my own carrot cake this weekend.
These cakes will take you to happiness and you will crunch the sun when you bite into the citrussy flavors of the Pamplemousse cream cheese frosting that I topped them with, and taste the full flavors of the spongy carrot rapadou cake.
A real burst of … well Flamboyant flavors :)
Do try these at home, and let me know if you have reached happiness at first bite, like the many kids that enjoyed them this weekend with my boys.
Ingredients for 24 cup cakes
2 cups flour 1/2 cup Rapadou 1 cup white sugar 2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp ginger 10 tsp baking powder (or 1 tsp baking powder + 2 tsp baking soda) 1/2 tsp salt 4 cups grated carrot 2 x 2/3 cup oil 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Pamplemousse frosting
8 oz cream cheese 1 tsp vanilla extract 8 tbsp butter 1/8 cup Pamplemousse juice 2 tsp Pamplemousse zest 1 tbsp dark Haitian Rhum Vieux Labbé
Grate your 4 cups raw carrot pieces, or place them in food processor to grate them all at once. This will yield your 4 cups of shredded carrots.
In the same food processor, place your rapadou and let it grind to obtain a smoother, paste like texture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and the salt. Put aside this flour mixture.
In your mixer bowl, combine the grated carrots, rapadou, vanilla extract and oil. Let them mix together nicely to obtain a nice homogeneous mix.
Now slowly add the flour mixture, letting it mix just enough.
In a small bowl, beat your 4 eggs and add them to the mixed batter. Stir to combine a few times with a spatula. Don’t over do it, this will ensure your cup cakes are light and airy.
Now pull out your cup cake tin. Fill up each cup cake holder with your cake batter, making sure to only fill them up about 1/3 shy of the rim.
Now bake them in our preheated oven for 15 minutes, making sure to overlook baking. Feel free to add a few minutes if necessary considering each oven cooks and distributes heat differently.
Once ready, allow your carrot rapadou cupcakes to cool for a good 20 to 30 minutes before unmolding.
While baking, start prepping your frosting.
With a zester, remove the zest from your Pamplemousse, and set aside.
In a clean mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese with the butter, vanilla extract and Pamplemousse juice and beat on slow to medium speed.
Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and continue to mix.
Add the rum and the 2 tablespoons of the zest. Keep mixing till ready and well combined into a smooth zesty frosting.
Using a pipe or ziplock bag for the frosting, decorate your cupcakes one by one.
To decorate, you may top off with some extra Pamplemousse zest which will add a nice touch both in taste and esthaetic.