Carrot cake, in the 1970s to 1980s, was a favorite and popular wedding cake flavor in Guåhån. Some CHamorus can’t stand the carrot today because they had to grate pounds and pounds of carrots for their mom, aunt or grandma who made the cakes. I’ve always loved carrot cake, and you’ll love the recipe below.
A diverse vegetable
Carrots are believed to have originated in Persia, or present-day Iran and Afghanistan. Popular CHamoru versions of Filipino lumpia and pancit include carrots, and perhaps you’ll find carrots in modern-day kådu or soup.
Growing up on the island, local vegetables were preferred over carrots in Chamoru dishes. Additionally, carrots do not grow well on Guåhån as most varieties require temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Carrot cake originated from medieval Arabic carrot puddings. Carrots were also used as a sweetener when sugar was expensive or unavailable. A carrot cake recipe was first recorded in The Art of French Cookery published in 1827.
From off the island
A carrot cake recipe, like last month’s column red velvet cake, probably made its way to Guåhån with the military, visiting US residents, or a chenchule’ or gift from a returning local his home.
The recipe below is from my nina, Soledad “Daling” Ignacio Quinene from Piti, Guam. The cake and frosting are pleasantly sweet and both are deliciously moist. I’m making this recipe as cupcakes because they’ll be cute for Easter, but the recipe can also be baked in a 9×13 pan.
If you don’t have the exact Wilton cake decorating tools, most grocery stores sell a basic four-piece tip set in the cake mix aisle that includes a round, flower, leaf, and petal tip.
These end caps screw onto pre-made colored icing tubes that usually hang beside the end caps. Get more creative by coloring fresh or baked coconut with green food coloring and topping the cupcakes with the green “grass” and an “egg” of jelly bean.
I’ve also included a link below to a YouTube video on pastry bag hacks using just a Ziploc style bag to decorate cupcakes.
Daling Carrot Cake
Remember to thaw frozen Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight. Keep it chilled in the fridge until it’s time to make the frosting.
Be sure to bring the cream cheese to room temperature, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, before mixing it with Cool Whip.
Makes about 40 cupcakes.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of yeast
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/3 cups avocado oil or your choice of cooking oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
- 1 to 20 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and measured
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1-8 oz package of cream cheese
- 1-2 8-ounce jars of Cool Whip, cold not frozen
- 1 large bowl
- 2 medium bowls
- Electric mixer
- rubber spatula
- 2 muffin tins
- Paper muffin cups
- Round tip #3
- Round bit #10
- Round tip #1A
- Flower tip #30
- Leaf Tip #352
- cake decorating couplers
- cake decorating bags
- Spatulas or offset teaspoons for decorating cakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine all the dry ingredients for set 1 in a medium bowl. Put aside.
Beat all 2 ingredients together in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
Add the carrots to the bowl of wet ingredients and beat again.
Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and beat, mixing thoroughly. The dough may look a little rough or wet, but that’s okay.
Add raisins and walnuts, incorporating well with a rubber spatula; also scrape the sides of the bowl.
Line muffin tins with paper liners. Fill each liner only halfway. If you put too much dough on it, it will cook on the edge of the paper liners and won’t be as pretty…but still delicious to eat.
Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes. Open the oven door. If the tops still seem damp, close the oven door and bake for another 2 minutes. Recheck.
If the tops look set this time, insert a toothpick in the center of a cupcake to check for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done; if it comes out with lots of crumbs or batter, cook for another 2 minutes and recheck.
Once baked, remove each muffin from pan and cool completely on wire racks.
When muffins are cool, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese. Add Cool Whip and beat until well blended. Decorate your cupcakes as you wish.
Unused frosting should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then in a Ziploc-style bag; can be refrigerated for a few days and keeps well in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.
Thaw the frosting in the refrigerator overnight before using. Frosting may need to be puffed before decorating. Cupcakes can also be frozen in freezer-safe containers; thaw overnight before use.
Paula Lujan Quinene, author of “A Taste of Guam”, “Remember Guam”, “Conquered” and “Stormed” enjoys CHamoru food in a fasting lifestyle. You can reach her at [email protected] You can also find her recipes at www.PaulaQ.com and connect with her as “Guam Mama Cooks” on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok.