According to Nawal Nasrallah in her Delights from the Garden of Eden, the recipe for this carrot cake was found in a tenth-century Baghdadi cookbook. Well, the recipe may go back to medieval times but it is still popular today all over the Middle-East in one form or another.
The method is simple: Cook the carrots in water; collect the resulting carrot stock and make it into a syrup (with sugar or honey); cook a cornstarch paste and use it to bind the carrots and the syrup into a moist and dense cake.
Perfect if you like to have just a smidgeon of carrot cake (minus the flour and eggs!) that is sweet, moist, dense and bursting with carrot flavor. Excellent with a cup of freshly brewed tea.
INGREDIENTS: 12 servings (small)
- 1 pound of carrots
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp of orange blossom water or rose water or 1/2 tsp of cardamom
- 3 tbsp of unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp of cornstarch
- 1/4 cup of shredded coconut for garnish
- 1 tbsp of sliced pistachios or walnuts for garnish
- Peel and shred the carrots. Place in a saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
- Drain the carrots (press to extract all liquid) and keep the collected carrot stock. Place the stock in a saucepan and add one cup of water and the sugar. If you have too much water, add less; you should have a cup and a half of liquid, no more. Boil the syrup for 8 minutes adding 1 tbsp of lemon juice towards the end.
- Place the butter and cornstarch in a small skillet and cook the mixture, stirring it constantly, over medium-high heat, until it changes color and turns light brown. Transfer the cornstarch mixture into the pot with the carrots and combine well; add the syrup and combine; cook the mixture over low heat for about 20 minutes until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. Add the flavoring at the end of cooking.
- Transfer the mixture into a plate. Garnish with coconut and toasted nuts if desired. Serve at room temperature.