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Carrot cakes maximize pleasure of one of nature's most gifted vegetables

Thursday, April 15, 1999

By Arlene Burnette, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Carrots have a glorious history. For more than 2,000 years, this member of the parsley family has been one of our most nutritious vegetables. A 3 1/2-ounce serving of cooked carrots provides a healthy dose of calcium and an enormous 15,000 units of vitamin A.

So it's not surprising that we've found a way to add carrots to our one of our favorite desserts -- cake. Today's recipes intrigued us because of their ingredients. For instance, Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake can best be described as a hearty cake -- deliciously heavy with walnuts, pineapple, raisins and, of course, fresh carrots. This cake won a blue ribbon at the 1994 Butler County Fair.

In the next recipe, strained carrots are substituted for grated carrots. We loved the moistness and the subtle rich flavor of this cake -- and it only took about 10 minutes prep time.

The cream cheese icing for both cakes was a pleasant surprise -- instead of a sickening sweet taste, this icing has a sweet buttery taste and complements both cakes.

Our last recipe is a side dish -- Glazed Carrots. An easy dish to prepare, Glazed Carrots are sautéed with brown sugar and butter. The bright orange color coupled with a sprinkling of parsley makes this dish a work of art.

Before you shop for carrots, check out these facts:

If you buy carrots with the greenery still attached, make sure the leaves are moist and bright green. When you get home, remove the greens -- they rob the root of vitamins and moisture.

If you buy carrots without the greens, avoid any that have tiny green sprouts forming where the green has been removed. Don't store carrots near apples: Apples emit ethylene gas and that will give the carrots a bitter taste.

One pound of carrots yields 3 cups chopped or sliced, or 2 1/2 cups shredded. An equal amount of cooked pureed carrots can be substituted for mashed pumpkin.

Sources: "The Great Food Almanac" by Irene Chalmers; "The Food Lover's Tiptionary" by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Audrey Coward of Garfield requested a recipe for Carrot Cake. Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake was sent in by Sandra-Lee Summers of West View.

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup melted butter or oil (we used canola oil)
2 cups finely grated carrots
1 cup raisins
2 cups crushed pineapple (you'll need two 20- ounce cans, drained)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients, set aside. Mix eggs, sugar and melted butter, stirring well. Pour into three greased and floured 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cake cool to room temperature. Frost with cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

8 ounces cream cheese (softened), see note
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/4 cups confectioners sugar, see note

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add sugar. Beat until fluffy.

Note: The recipe called for 9 ounces of cream cheese -- we went with 8 ounces. We found we needed only 4 1/2 cups sugar, but if you like a sweeter and thicker frosting, add more.

Dolores Kirsh of Baldwin sent in this bundt version of Carrot Cake.

Carrot Cake

4 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large or 3 small jars Junior Carrots (we couldn't find junior carrots; we used three 4-ounce jars of Heinz No. 2 carrots)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Beat eggs. Mix next seven ingredients, then add to eggs. Stir in walnuts. Bake in bundt pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cake cool, then frost.


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon water

Mix well and spread on cake.

Glazed Carrots

1 pound carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into even sticks
1/2 cup water or chicken or beef stock (we used water)
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)

Place all ingredients in a saute pan that has a lid and is wide enough to hold the carrots in a single layer.

Simmer, covered, over medium heat until the carrots are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Cook until a syrupy glaze forms on the bottom of the pan. Roll the carrots around in the pan until they are well coated, then turn them into a dish and garnish with chopped fresh mint or parsley.

"Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker


Another Dutch processed cocoa find: Nora Sczenk of Weirton, W.Va., wrote Kitchen Mailbox with yet another way to purchase Dutch process cocoa: "Saw in the PG where Lora Lynch of North Huntingdon was looking for Dutch-processed cocoa. Then I remembered the Baker's Catalogue, put out by King Arthur Flour Co. Hope this will help."

Baker's Catalogue sells Van Leer Dutch-process cocoa in one-pound bags at $4.25. To order a catalogue call 800-827-6836.


Anyone ever heard of Manna Miracle Muffins? They were sold at Rhea's Bakery, Downtown. Bert Klobchar of Robinson would like the recipe.

Linda Bober of Canonsburg would like a recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake similar to that served at the Country Buffet.

Does anyone have a low-fat recipe for cheesecake? Please send it for Elizabeth Elsesser.

Rose Charlap of Shadyside would like the recipe for Inside Out Ravioli. This dish is made with spinach, sea shells macaroni and Romano cheese.

-- By Arlene Burnett

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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