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Carrot Cake...Keep it Classic, or Mix it Up?

I'm making carrot cupackes for a holiday party and wanted to try something a little different. Anyone have any suggestions for an alternative to a cream cheese frosting...I was thinking about a ginger glaze or something with almond. Thoughts?

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  1. You can tweak CC frosting with other flavors like lime zest or passion fruit, or use masacarpone, but you can't beat mascarpone as much, it gets soupy. I like to add some cardamom to my carrot cake. A ginger glaze would go well with that, or the addition of pistachios, even some rose or orange flower water if you did a CC frosting.

    1. You could add chopped crystallized ginger to the cream cheese frosting, or toasted sliced almonds, or whatever you want (pineapple juice is always good too)... but I guarantee you that the people at the holiday party will be very disappointed if there is carrot cake without cream cheese frosting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pia

        Agreed - gotta have the cream cheese. I would split the batter and frostings. Make half the classic recipe, and play with the remainder. Maybe dulce de leche cream cheese? Or just a caramel drizzle over cream cheese frosting.

      2. I like the Carrot Cupcakes with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting on the Epicurious site. The frosting really complements carrot cake or carrot cupcakes. I have also used the frosting with another carrot cake recipe as well.

        1. For a twist, you can do a very thin cheesecake layer in the middle -- divide your cake batter in two, then make a very basic small batch of cheesecake filling (5 1/2 oz cream cheese beaten til fluffy, 1 egg fully incorporated, then 1/3 c sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp lemon zest) -- layer cake, cheesecake, cake, and maybe frost with a simple cream cheese frosting or sour cream glaze... or if it were me, i'd do a browned butter cream cheese frosting, but that's because i like to guild the lily.

          Or, to really switch it up, Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with a Cream Cheese Frosting (w/ or without browned butter) filling.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emme

            I don't know why cheesecake and carrot cake aren't a more popular combination. I love carrot cake cheesecake--it's a perfect combination. A sour cream frosting would be the perfect tang to that.

          2. If you're making cupcakes, it would be relatively easy to frost half with cream cheese, and the other half with a more experimental frosting. I like to ice carrot cake with a mixture of maple syrup, strong coffee and confectioner's sugar. Your ginger glaze also sounds interesting - can I please have the recipe?

            1 Reply
            1. re: almond tree

              Thanks for the ideas. I used the ginger glaze on a chai spiced cake, it was delish! The recipe is as follows:
              3 tablespoons honey
              1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
              2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
              milk to desired consistency...I used 1/3 of a cup
              pinch of kosher or sea salt

            2. I think the almond taste would be very good with the carrot cake, but flavor it sparingly so it doesn't overpower or compete with the spices.

              I use a cream cheese frosting, but I flavor it with grated lemon zest and a little crushed pineapple that I've drained and squeezed the moisture from. It's not too original, but it's a bit more interesting than basic cream cheese frosting, which is often cloyingly sweet.

              1. I think carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are perfect together, especially if you don't defile the carrot cake with other fruits. I do like a bit or lemon or ginger in the frosting and I prefer frosting made with some butter, not just cream cheese.

                1. I wouldn't mess with the frosting other than an add in or flavoring. I already make mine with lemon zest in it.

                  I suppose you could add chopped crystalized ginger to batter. I don't know, my long time favorite is the Silver Palate recipe with coconut and crushed pineapple added.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rasputina

                    i like to add orange zest both to the batter and frosting.

                  2. Not what you want to hear, but I'm always disappointed with "doctored up" carrot cake. I don't even want nuts, raisins, pineapple or coconut. Just plain please with cream cheese frosting please :)