The Sweet And Spicy Way Ina Garten Elevates Carrot Cake

Homemade carrot cake is a classic dessert that every celebrity chef seems to have a take on. According to Nigella Lawson's website, she likes to make a rustic version akin to something served at teatime, which is a far cry from the overly sweet, multi-layered American style of this cake. Ree Drummond, AKA the Pioneer Woman, fashions her carrot cake after a recipe that belonged to a friend of her mom's, creating a classic sheet cake. And when Bobby Flay is whipping up this confection, the Iron Chef places a modern twist on it, frosting his carrot cake with a marshmallow fluff cream cheese frosting.

Per Southern Living, the traditional carrot cake does, indeed, contain shredded carrots, along with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Julie's Cafe Bakery shares some people like to add raisins to the batter while others will mix in some type of nut, like pecans or walnuts. But if you ever ponder whether to forgo the carrots in your carrot cake, the food blogger cautions you can expect a cake that is neither as "rich" nor "moist" as it could be. Luckily, Ina Garten sticks to the classics, and her recipe does use carrots. Of course, the Barefoot Contessa has her own take on this dessert that elevates it in a sweet and spicy way.

Garten spices things up with a candied root

Ina Garten revealed on her Instagram that when she makes her two-layer carrot cake, she likes to frost it with a ginger mascarpone frosting that has been enhanced with crystallized candied ginger. Per Baking Bites, candied ginger, which is made from ginger root and sugar syrup that is then dipped in sugar, adds a wonderful but mild heat along with a lick-your-lips sweetness to a number of recipes. The blogger also explains candied ginger is easy to chop up and use in a variety of recipes. But how does candied ginger taste in a carrot cake? 

While Garten's cake didn't win the Kitchn's carrot cake bake-off, the tester did enjoy this added ingredient, noting, the "crystalized ginger added a nice unexpected pop of heat." Crystalized ginger can really get your taste buds going, and if you decide you like the flavor it adds to your carrot cake, Yummly shares that you can add this ingredient to cookies, gingerbread cake, and even in your chocolate baking products. If you can't find crystallized candied ginger in your day-to-day grocery store, Baking Bites recommends seeking it out at a natural food store where the price may also be a little cheaper.