There’s something about a summer’s day that makes me really fancy a bit of cooling sweet carrot cake. I love the way it sounds healthy, though despite its long association with health food shops it’s far from healthy! Sure you can hide some veggies and some nuts in there but it’s still a naughty little cake. And I love a naughty little cake!
Finding myself on a sugar craving snack hunt I found we had a lot of carrots to get through, a carton of cream cheese in need of using up and a big bag of cashews at the back of the store cupboard. To be honest I was really after some chocolate for a quick sugar fix but found these random ingredients whispering… carrot and cashew nut cake. By adapting the basic carrot cake recipe I substituted cashews instead of walnuts and added sugar cashews for topping. I must say I prefer using cashews instead of walnuts as sometimes walnuts can be bitter or catch my throat. Cashews add a lovely creamy edge and caramelised crunch to the topping.
For the cake
150ml sunflower oil
200g light soft brown sugar
175g plain flower
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
75g chopped cashew nuts
150 – 200g grated carrots (I used two medium-sized carrots)
For the cream cheese frosting
250g of cream cheese (around one pack)
100g of icing sugar
zest of one lemon
For the Sugared Cashews for topping
tea cup of water or around 100 ml water
25g granulated sugar
dessert spoon of Demerara sugar
Heat the oven to 180 C/160 C fan/350 F/gas 4 and line the base of your chosen tin. I used a 20cm loose bottom tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl.
Using a food processor or by hand mix the sugar and oil together until smooth incorporating the beaten eggs. Stir in the carrots and nuts to the mixture then fold in the dry ingredients.
pour into your cake tin smoothing gently with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, test with a skewer, if it comes out with only a few crumbs your cake is ready.
leave to cool completely in the tin.
Whilst cooling make the lemon cream cheese topping and your sugared cashews.
For the cream cheese frosting simple mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar gently until all the icing sugar has dissolved, stir through the lemon zest and set aside back in fridge until needed.
For the sugared cashews start by lightly toasting the cashews in a dry frying pan. Add the granulated sugar to the water heating in a small pan until simmering and the sugar has been dissolved. Pour into the warm nuts in the fry pan (be careful the pan is not too hot!) let. Leave simmering the sugar-water and nuts until becomes syrupy and add the demerara sugar. Continue to cook until the liquid has gone and the nuts are sticky. Set aside to cool.
Turn out your cooled cake, frost with the cream cheese mix and decorate with your sugared cashews. Eat immediately or keep in the fridge until consumed.