A Little Spring, 2-Ways

With spring now officially behind us, even though the weather hasn’t cooperated here in the Northeast, I simply need to add a bit of springtime flavors in some cold weather desserts. Enjoy my rendition of carrot cake spiked with sunshine. (No poet laureate here, but this dessert will make up for it).

Carrot-Mandarin Orange Cake
I love the flavors of this cake not only for the addition of mandarin oranges throughout, but I took the classic cream cheese frosting and lightened it up with whipped cream to create an airy addition. .

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups shredded carrot*
1 c coconut
2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, undrained
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe below

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch square baking pan(or use 2 cake pans) with nonstick cooking spray. Mix first 5 ingredients together until well combined. Add the eggs, apples sauce, oil, carrot, coconut and 1 can mandarin oranges. Stir to combine and the oranges are broken up well. Evenly divide the cake dough into the prepared baking pan and bake about 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Cut into squares and cut again, horizontally into 3 layers if deft with a knife. If not, simply cut in half horizontally. Layer the cake pieces with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and whole mandarin oranges from the second can. Either discard the juice from the second can of oranges or drink it like me and my kids do!

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form; set aside. In another bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and almond extract. With a spoon, blend the whipped cream with the beaten cream cheese until smooth and well incorporated.

*You can either use the fine or coarse holes in your grater for the carrots, it simply makes no difference.

Want a bit of a bite covering your Carrot Cake? Try this delightfully fruited and tangy sauce. Simply prepare the carrot cake as directed above but substitute the Dried Fruit and Port Sauce in place of Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and additional mandarin oranges.

Dried Fruit and Port Sauce

3 cups mixed, dried fruit*
1 cup port wine
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Chop the dried fruit into small pieces or any size you prefer. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-12 minutes, or until the fruit has started to soften and the liquid has slightly thickened.

*you can use any combination of dried fruit you desire, such as pineapple, papaya, cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, apples…you get the idea.