so i have to admit, i don’t go bonkers over the traditional carrot cake. i know i know, sorry, i’m totally un-american. the one with pineapple in it and all the rich, thick cream cheese frosting – it’s way too much for me. i much prefer something simpler, not too much topping, and if it just happens to be healthy, well then i am IN.
last week for a gathering of friends, i chose to bring this for our dessert. it’s lightly adapted from one of alice medrich’s cookbooks and i think it IS DIVINE. i made some fresh whipped cream to go on top and it was the perfect thing – light and cool and not too sweet. it is made with almond meal, so this lovely just happens to be gluten free, if you are cooking for someone who doesn’t eat gluten. and let’s be serious – this could totally double as breakfast if you were so inclined..
carrot almond cake
1 1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 cups cleaned & finely grated carrots, lightly packed (about 3 medium-large carrots)
4 large eggs, separated (at room temperature)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (slightly heaping)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
fresh whipped cream, for serving
- position a rack in the lower third of the oven. preheat to 325. butter or grease the bottom and sides of an 8″ springform pan.
- whisk together the almond meal and 2 tbsp of the sugar; set aside.
- lay out about 4 paper towels on the counter. grate carrots onto paper towels in 2 batches. for each batch, gather up the towel corners and squeeze as much of the carrot juice as you can out of the grated carrots into a cup or small bowl. (drink or discard the juice.) set aside.
- zest the orange into a separate large bowl. add egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and 1/2 cup plus tbsp sugar and mix with a spatula until all are incorporated. sprinkle grated carrots on top and then set aside.
- in a cold metal mixing bowl with a mixer (hand or standing) beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until the mixture holds a soft shape. slowly sprinkle in the 2 remaining tbsp of sugar, beating at high speed until the egg whites are stiff.
- scrape 1/4 of the egg whites on top of the grated carrots and fold in with a spatula. add the remaining egg whites to the bowl, pour in the almond meal mixture, and fold them in.
- pour batter evenly into prepared springform pan. bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sides are beginning to separate from the pan. cool completely on a rack. (to remove from the springform pan: slide a thin knife around the sides of the cake and underneath and transfer onto a serving platter.) serve with fresh whipped cream. will keep for about 4-5 days in a sealed container or tight plastic wrap.