Essie Ruth

Carrot cakes with brown sugar cream cheese icing

Hello, my lovely friends! It’s well past time for me to share a new recipe with you, so I thought I’d better come to you with a good ‘un.

There are few things I enjoy more than carrot cake. I generally like it with walnuts for extra texture and depth of flavour, but if I want to be able to shove one in Arty’s lunch box, the nuts have to be left out.

My compromise is to leave some uniced for him, and to add chopped walnuts and icing for the grown ups.


Traditionally, cream cheese icing is made with lemon and icing sugar, but when there are walnuts on top, I like to make a brown sugar cream cheese icing, because the walnuts go so very well with that richer, stickier flavour.


To add a little bit more complexity of flavour and texture to the cake, I add a little coconut. This seems to make up for the missing walnuts a little bit (if not entirely).


The final slight alteration I like to make to more traditional flavour combinations is to add cardamom to the spices in the mixture. Cinnamon and nutmeg are delicious, and should definitely be included, but I find the addition of cardamom lends another layer of interest to the whole situation that is hard to top.

Carrot cakes


  • 125g self raising flour
  • 150g brown sugar (for cakes)
  • 3/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed, husks removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 165mL olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, finely grated
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 300g brown sugar (for icing)
  • 125g cream cheese, softened
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 180c, and line 9 holes of a 12 hole muffin tin with patty pans or greaseproof paper.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add oil and eggs, and beat until the mixture is pale (approx 1 minute).
  4. Stir in carrot and coconut.
  5. Distribute mixture evenly between lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, until cakes are golden brown, and spring back when lightly pressed.
  7. Cool.
  8. Beat all icing ingredients until light and smooth.
  9. Ice cakes when they have completely cooled.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if desired.
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As with all spice-infused recipes, this one fills the house with an intoxicating and enticing aroma as it bakes, which is just another excellent reason to bake it.

But we all know the best reason, and that’s to nom nom nom!

September 20, 2016