~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Venetian Carrot Cake/"Cupcake"... Gluten-free

Venetian Carrot Cake/"Cupcake"... Gluten-free. Even though I use flour, sugar, butter and eggs to bake desserts, I try to implement a "healthier" alternative whenever I can.... be it gluten-free or not. I may bake "regular" desserts when I need to test a recipe, or when I have guests, or when I need to bring a dessert for some type of special occasion. But for the most part, our desserts we eat at home are often much lighter (well, maybe somewhat:))... and most of them don't ever get posted.

I often find myself tweaking a recipe quite a few times.... until I am satisfied with the result and consider it to be a somewhat "healthier" recipe. Now, I have to admit that some of the changes I make can drastically affect the outcome of certain recipes... but sometimes it works rather well. It all depends on the recipe.

In any case, I'm always on the lookout for "lighter" dessert recipes that I can make... and that my husband will eat more than once:). It's interesting, because I thought my husband would not care for this particular recipe I'm posting today. But while he was eating one of the "cupcakes", he made a remark... something to the effect that he would consider paying money for it, if it was sold in a shop. Hmmm.... sometimes you just never know:). Actually, my husband is super-sweet as he's adjusted to my "healthier" options quite well... and I owe him a debt of gratitude. However, he does look forward to the days when I "test" new recipes:).

When making this dessert, I knew full well not to expect a regular carrot cake result... you really can't from a recipe that uses just almond meal as the "flour" in the recipe. But I was hoping it would be a great alternative to the normal carrot cake we know... and in the end be good enough to eat. I normally love Nigella's recipes, so I wasn't hesitant to try her version of the carrot cake.

This Italian-style carrot cake actually dates back to the Jewish people living in the Venetian ghetto... and supposedly they are the first to have "invented" the carrot cake. This earlier version isn't anything like the carrot cake and cream cheese frosting we are accustomed to here in the states.... nonetheless this cake was delicious, incredibly moist and fragrant. The myriad of flavors reminded me of Christmas. I have to mention that I did find the cake a tad bit on the oily side, especially right after the cakes were removed from the oven.... though the oil sort of dissipates after they sit a bit, maybe the cakes absorb it. In any case, feel free to use a bit less oil, if you like. It could have been that I ground my own almond flour...

Actually, the recipe I am posting below is a bit different than Nigella's original recipe. There are some substitutions/eliminations/additions that I made... only because I wanted to use what I had on hand... and flavor it the way I like. I didn't have golden sultanas and used currants instead, didn't have rum and used extract instead, decided to use a bit more ground almond meal and added some unsweetened coconut, omitted the pine nuts and used sliced almonds. I then decided to exchange the lemon for the orange peel( husband's preference)... and let's see, added some cinnamon as well:).

I suppose this recipe is quite a bit adapted and technically can be considered my own recipe... but I do have to give credit to Nigella for inspiring me to make this wonderful variation of the "carrot cake".... and because my husband loved it, I'm posting it. Hope you enjoy...

Note: The cakes aren't necessarily tall...they rise a bit but cool down to be somewhat flat, cakes/cupcakes. And keep in mind that they are a bit heavier and more dense than a normal carrot cake. I prefer making the cake into cupcakes as it's much easier to freeze and take out when I need just a "bite".

Side Note: If you would like to try a regular flour version, you can see a similar recipe posted on the NY Times... haven't tried it though.

You will need: adapted from Nigella Lawson (UK measurements) and can also be found HERE(US measurements)... but my version is a bit different. The links will also provide a mascarpone cream topping, if interested.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 scant cup extra-light olive oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rum extract, or more depending on taste
2 cups(from 2-3 med. carrots) coarse shredded carrots(I shredded mine finely)
2 1/2 cups almond meal( or 2 cups whole raw almonds, ground finely)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup currants
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional
2-3 tsp grated orange zest
juice of half a lemon

Top with:

1/4 cup sliced almonds or toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Line the base of a 9 in round springform cake tin with parchment and grease the sides with olive oil.... or use 12 cupcake liners + 2( 6 inch) tart pans.
3. Grate the carrots either fine or coarse... I used a fine grater for mine. You can wrap the grated carrots in a double layer of kitchen paper to soak up excess liquid.... I didn't bother with this, as I was adding some extra almond meal and coconut and hoped to absorb any excess liquid. Set aside.
4. Whisk the sugar and oil until creamily and airily mixed.
5. Add the eggs, vanilla and rum extracts and beat for 1-2 minutes on med high till lightened and thickened a bit.
6. Fold in the ground almonds, coconut, nutmeg, cinnamon(if using), grated carrots, currants, orange zest, and lemon juice.
7. Scrape the mixture into prepared cake tin or cupcake liners. Smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
8. Sprinkle sliced almonds(or toasted pine nuts) over the cake and place in oven.
9. Bake for 30–40 minutes for cake, or until the top is risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out sticky but more or less clean. Cupcakes will take less baking time, more like half the baking time of the cakes, but I forgot to time them...sorry.
10. Remove from the oven and let the cake/cupcakes sit in the pans for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. The cakes freeze well.


Speranta said...

Excelent e tot ce pot spune!!!

Interesant de incercat,de ce nu...

Iti doresc multa sanatate!

Ellie said...

Intradevar este un cake care este foarte interesant... nu are faina alba, dar in schimb are niste ingrediente care merege bine impreuna... morcovi, migdale, nuca de cocos, si altele.

Gustul este foarte bun... si nu este greu de facut.

Un pic mai healthy asi zice eu:)... o zi placuta!

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Ellie!

What a GREAT post!!! The little carrot cakes look so cute and good enough to eat too!!!

It's been so long since I've made carrot cake of any kind with oil. I always use applesauce instead. It works great and the cake is usually moist. I really should try an oil version again to compare:)

Thanks for sharing...

P.S. So glad you and Jady "met." I actually posted about her on my blog yesterday:)

Familycook said...

Your carrot cup cakes look awesome. I have actually bake a carrot cake recently but, yours is definitely healthier.

Ellie said...

Hi Louise:),
Oh, I haven't made carrot cake in quite a while myself... funny how I sometimes used applesauce, too:). It worked in regular carrot cake recipes where flour was used. But this cake is plenty moist, and because it has no wheat flour, I really don't know how the applesauce would affect it... I do know the oil in this recipe probably gives it some flavor. But it would be interesting to try it with applesauce, too.
And thanks for sending Jady my way... had a look at her wonderful recipes.... she's an awesome cook! Need to come by and check out your blog:). Thanks for stopping by:)!

FamilyCook, Oh, I'm glad you like the cake... it's a tad bit healthier:). But I still enjoy a good old fashioned carrot cake from time to time:). Thanks for stopping by!