Nerd Night: Spicy Gingered Carrot Cake

This weekend I Planted All The Things and Baked All The Things and also managed to burn a spectacular burn across my arm in an impossible location while I was rotating the pans in the oven for this cake. I am talented! Now on my left arm, my tattoo is busy scaling/flaking (“SOON I SHALL REVEAL MY TRUE FORM!” I keep screeching at the children, who have long suspected I am actually Cthulhu underneath all the gray hair and under-eye bags), and on my right arm, I have a 2″ long blister. I’m a mess.

I’m such a disaster, I never even told you to go read my latest advice column over at Alpha Mom, which you should really read if you have a high school senior in your house you are thinking about drowning like an unwanted kitten. (Not that I’ve ever had such thoughts. More than once every few minutes.)

ANYWAY. Recently I scored a deal on a metric butt-ton of ginger chips (I think I paid, like, $7ish for 6 bags) and when it arrived I was all, “Whoa. That’s kind of a lot of ginger chips.” Personally, I love all things ginger and will happily eat crystallized ginger like this straight from the bag, but I knew it would be a harder sell to get the kids to eat it. So: Carrot cake! Surely that would work. Yes? Yes!


Surely carrots and creamy icing would be the perfect foil for all that spicy ginger. I used this recipe from Sweetapolita with a few minor changes:

1) I didn’t have any oranges (hello, and welcome to Mir’s Home Of Modified Recipes Because She Absolutely Never Has All Of The Right Ingredients On Hand!), so instead of including orange zest, I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of orange extract (the recipe calls for 2 tsp of vanilla). The cake definitely had an orange “perfume” to it but I have no idea how the flavor compared. When I asked the kids if it tasted orangey, they both said, “Huh?”

2) The recipe calls for 2/3 cup milk. I used buttermilk, because buttermilk makes all baked goods more delicious. I’m not sure it matters, but there you go.

3) My biggest reservation about this particular recipe was the frosting—carrot cake should have cream cheese frosting, OBVIOUSLY, but this is a white chocolate almond buttercream, instead, and while I was intrigued (and also out of cream cheese) (Dear Self, maybe try going grocery shopping??), I wasn’t sure it would work. OH. MY. It works. This frosting (the only part of the creation I could sample) is AMAAAAAZING. It was so amazing, instead of topping the cake with some crystalized ginger and calling it a day, I did a ring of ginger filled in with sliced almonds, both to highlight the flavor in the frosting and because I enjoy tormenting my son. (“There were so many ALMONDS on this cake!” he complained, when they got home. “YES!” I said. “AND I BET YOU ATE THEM.” He narrowed his eyes at me. “I ate around them,” he said. “Really??” I asked. He laughed. “No,” he said. “I just ate them.” THE KID WHO HATES ALMONDS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.)


I’m told it was very good and super-moist. I was a little worried because it sort of looked like the carrot shreds sank a little rather than being evenly distributed, but no one said anything and when I looked back at Sweetapolita’s pics her cake looks the same, so I guess it’s fine.

Now I just have… um… five and a half bags of crystallized ginger to use up.


  1. liz

    That looks delicious. I’m wondering if you can use the ginger in oatmeal cookies?

    • Mir

      Probably that would be delicious. I was thinking of scones when I bought it, and they came with a recipe for a molasses cookie with ginger. I’m sure I’ll find lots of ways to use it, but most of what I’ve come across so far is kind of winter-y (gingerbread, pumpkin cake/cookies, etc.).

      • 12tequilas

        Pumpkin isn’t seasonal! It comes in cans!

      • Kim

        And in oatmeal, too – make it with milk, add some ginger, and bam- goodness arises.

        Along those lines, Mir, maybe thing tropical flavors? I make an oatmeal with mango and coconut – I’ll bet ginger would mix well in there.

    • Karen R

      I toss candied ginger in anything I can. It takes gingersnaps up to a whole new level. Anything you would feel safe about tossing raisins into (texturally) will work out fine with some ginger tossed in. I am especially fond of this recipe:

      The cookies are impossible to resist.

  2. RuthWells

    One of the BESTEST cakes I ever made is the lemon/ginger butter cake from Whimsical Bakehouse. Something about lemon and ginger together is magical. Will dig out recipe if you are interested.

    • wendalette

      Aw! You beat me to it! I was totally going to suggest something with lemon. Lemon bars, perhaps, with the ginger bits in the crust? Hm. I should try making that myself…

  3. Amy

    I chop it into a small dice and mix it with yogurt, then make frozen yogurt pops with it. Little chewy bits of awesome while you’re eating an icy summer treat. I usually add diced pear to the pops too, goes well with the ginger. I also toss it (small dice again) in when I make pear jam.

  4. My Kids Mom

    Ginger Chicken: marinate chicken in soy, sherry, honey and garlic. Saute, then cook the marinade and put it, along with crystalized ginger and chopped pecans on top of the chicken. Broil until everything is yummy.

  5. Amy

    Forgot to mention, your carrot bits would be better distributed if you coated them with part of the flour – helps suspend them in the cake. If you just add them to the wet ingredients they’ll tend to sink.

    • Mir

      Yes, now that you say that I’m thinking the last carrot cake I made had me do it that way. This one didn’t have me do that, but I should’ve. Thank you!

  6. Jeanie

    That cake looks delicious — so moist!!

  7. pharmgirl

    Ginger Pear Salad

    2 ripe pears, peeled cored and sliced

    1 cup seedless grapes

    1 head Boston Lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces


    6 tablespoons oil

    2 tablespoons lime juice

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1/4 c crystallized ginger, chopped

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Place pears, grapes and lettuce in bowl. Mix ingredients of dressing. Drizzle on greens and fruit and toss.

  8. Brigitte

    Ooh, I was thinking a salad too, but with grapefruit, which always calls to me in the sprng and summer months! the yogurt pops sound yummy too.

  9. Felicity

    Curried chicken salad…I never really measure, it’s all to taste.
    2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
    Cilantro, minced
    Crystallized ginger, minced, about 2 T
    1/2 cup pecans, chopped
    Curry powder, about 1-2 t
    Oil, about 1T
    Mix mayo and yogurt.
    Mix oil and curry powder and heat, just to release flavors and take away raw taste.
    Stir into yogurt mayo mixture.
    Mix all other ingredients and stir in dressing.

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