carrot cake paradiso

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It stormed here a couple days ago. The kind of dreamy snow storm with the huge, puffy snowflakes. I have been dreaming about the beach lately, sort of wishing we were planning some exotic, warm, tropical escape…but there’s something awesome about getting snowed in too.

When the snowflakes start to fall, and they call off school, we light candles all over the house, drink a ridiculous amount of tea, play board games, watch movies, read, sit in front of the fireplace and just hibernate.

Did I mention I’ve been knitting and crocheting? I started about three big blankets, a baby blanket, a beautiful infinity scarf (that’s actually more like a shawl or wrap it’s so wide,) and I found a funky slipper pattern that I just adore. Can’t wait to get started on some of those. I think it would be fun to make all sorts of different pairs in all colors and sizes and get a head start on my Christmas gifts.

I’ve been making progress on the books, which is encouraging. I also had an article published that I wrote and photographed. It’sĀ  in the recent (March/April) issue of TeaTime Magazine (Hoffman Media.) Very happy about that! It turned out beautifully. This particular article is a 4 page feature on my friend Audrey’s Tearoom in Hutchinson Minnesota called Heirlooms. Such a pretty, charming place that offers a beautiful menu and enchanting place to enjoy the wonderful afternoon tea ritual.

My next feature for TeaTime will be even longer. I was told 7 to 10 pages. It’s on tearooms in Minnesota, and it will be in the July/August issue. I photographed and wrote about five very special venues. What an adventure that was! We spent every other weekend working on it this past summer, and I am so excited to finally see it in print. What a dream come true to get this amazing opportunity! I feel so fortunate.

Some other fun news…Ladies Home Journal featured my Herb Garden Salad Dressing, and my friend Sandy asked me to contribute to an article she wrote on Shabby Chic decorating.

Other than all that excitement, I’ve been having so much fun inventing new recipes, playing with old ones and photographing them all for possible tea book recipes! My latest…Carrot Cake Paradiso. A richer version of the usual carrot cake, with homemade vanilla cream cheese frosting, and decorated with carrot shavings and crystallized daylilies from my dear friend Karen at the Crystallized Flower Company! I think this turned out so pretty…and even better, it tastes great too! I made it especially for my brother Phillip’s birthday celebration, and I was told several times that it’s the best carrot cake ever. YAY!

for cake:

4 large eggs, beaten

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

2 and 1/2 cups grated carrots

1 cup coconut flakes

1/2 cup grated apple

8 oz crushed pineapple, drained well

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the IKEA Sockerkaka Silicone Cake Pan Set, or 3 (9 inch) round cake pans. Drain pineapple and squeeze with paper towels to remove excess juice. Beat eggs in a big mixing bowl. Add sugar and oil and beat well. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth and all ingredients are well incorporated. Transfer cake batter to the prepared pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or just until a metal cake tester comes out clean when inserted in middle of cake. Allow cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

for frosting:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

8 oz. cream cheese or Mascarpone cheese (softened)

1 lb. powdered sugar

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mix until very smooth using an electric mixer. Frost cooled cake generously between layers.

Decorate cake with fresh, (pesticide-free) flowers or crystallized flowers and carrot shavings.



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  14 comments for “carrot cake paradiso

  1. Nadine
    February 24, 2013 at 7:14 am

    This cake is beautiful & sounds delicious. The addition of pineapple & coconut will be a tasty treat.

    Congratulations on all the good things happening for you. It must be thrilling to see your hard word become reality.

    • Melissa
      February 24, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Thanks for all the sweet words and for visiting me, Nadine! Enjoy the cake! xo šŸ™‚

  2. Karen2check
    February 24, 2013 at 9:37 am

    WOW! This sounds CRAZY DELICIOUS!

    • Melissa
      February 24, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Hi Karen! It’s SO darn good, and so full of fruit and nuts that it sorta seems healthy! hee hee šŸ™‚ She turned out pretty, didn’t she? Thanks again for the gorgeous flowers! They’re like having a garden at my disposal even in the middle of a crazy Minnesota winter! šŸ™‚ XO

  3. February 24, 2013 at 10:27 am

    This is so beautiful. If I had made it, I would have taken dozens and dozens of pictures while brandishing a wooden spoon if anyone tried to touch. And even after that I would be reluctant to let anyone cut into it.

    • Melissa
      February 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Thanks so much, Melanie! what a sweet thing to say! Enjoy the recipe…and even though she looks pretty fancy, she’s actually pretty easy to put together…those crystallized flowers do all the work šŸ˜‰ xo

  4. February 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Oh, I’m so going to try this, Melissa! Of course, you know the luck I’ve had w/carrot cakes (which have gone to ‘rum balls’!!)…hopefully not this one!! xo Ally

    • Melissa
      February 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      OOHHH! You’re going to love this, Ally. Just don’t be afraid to let it cook until that center is done (when a metal tester or knife comes clean.)…and the little silicone IKEA pans work like a charm! XOXO sweetness! love you!

  5. Pamela
    March 9, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Congratulations on all your writing news! I will look for Tea Time on my next visit to Barnes and Noble. So exciting!!!

    • Melissa
      March 9, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Hi Pamela! Yes, I’m super excited. I feel lucky and blessed. šŸ™‚ thanks so much for your sweet comment. Enjoy the article. XO

  6. January 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Your recipe is very similar to my “Tropical Carrot Cake”, and is a Blue Ribbon Cake. I usually use granulated sugar, but I’m anxious to try it with brown sugar. The only other differences are that I omit the baking powder and apple, and use 3/4 c. oil and 3/4 c. buttermilk (as it reacts with the baking soda to help the cake rise).

    If you want to make it even more decadent, I suggest making my Caramel Glaze, which I pour over the cake(s) just as they come out of the oven. If you are interested in trying it sometime, here’s the info.

    In a Dutch Oven, or a very large glass bowl, combine the following ingredients:

    1 c. sugar (I would think that brown sugar would also work)
    1 t. baking soda (I sift this in)
    1 T. light corn syrup
    1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
    1/2 c. buttermilk

    Mix the baking soda into the sugar. Then add the corn syrup and the butter. When the cakes are almost done, add the buttermilk, and stir all ingredients together. The butter will melt into the mixture, and doesn’t need to be incorporated before cooking.

    If you are using a Dutch Oven, place on a medium high burner and stir occasionally. Keep an eye on it as it will bubble up a lot. In that case, just stir it. The glaze will take about 6 minutes, start to finish, for the mixture to reach a light amber color.

    If you are using a very large glass bowl, place into the microwave. Set for 5 minutes, but stir after the 1st minute, to make sure all ingredients are mixed well – the butter should almost be melted. Continue to cook until it reaches a light amber color. It should take between 5 and 5 1/2 minutes. If it bubbles up to the top of the bowl, stir it down.

    When the glaze is done, remove from the hear (or microwave) and stir in –
    1 t. vanilla extract
    Stir well to combine, until the bubbles disappear and you have a thick glaze. Pour immediately over the hot cake(s), just out of the oven, and let it soak in. You do not need to poke any holes in the cake. I save out a little bit to pour over the middle of the cake again, and spread it out a little bit.

    I always bake my cakes a day ahead of needing them. I line the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment paper, and do not spray the side of the pans with non-stick spray. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan after the glaze is poured on.

    Before it is cool, I place a piece of saran over the top, put a cookie sheet on top, and then flip it over. Wrap the cake(s) tightly, and refrigerate when they are completely cold.

    If the cake is for a wedding cake I frost it with an Orange Rum or Pina Colada frosting. If it is not for a wedding, I make a traditional cream cheese frosting, use orange extract,and add orange zest.

    I hope you will try this as it adds so much to the consistency of the cake(s). One recipe will make one 9X13 cake, or two 9″ round cakes. I make multiple batches depending on what size my wedding cake tiers are.

    • Melissa
      January 11, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Hi Bonny! thanks for sharing your gorgeous recipe with me, and thanks for visiting šŸ™‚ XO

  7. Michele
    December 31, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Just made this for my birthday on Monday… It was absolutely perfect! Everyone is still raving about how moist and flavorful it was. Loved the texture and richness! It’s the perfect Everything-You-Want-In-A-Carrot-Cake Carrot Cake. Thank you for sharing!

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