Those who know me well know I am not really “a chocolate person.” (Pause to let the shock settle). I like dark chocolate when I have it, but I never crave it the way some people do. It’s like a language I don’t speak. Rather, my go-to desserts are sugar cookies, things with nuts, marshmallows, or coconut in them, and pretty much anything with frosting. Including my mother’s carrot cake. It might just be my favorite dessert of all time with its moist, dense cake topped with luscious cream cheese frosting. The stuff dreams are made of.
The recipe is so perfect when she makes it that I didn’t even want to attempt it, so instead I’ve turned it into something a little different by adding zucchini and using whole wheat flour. It’s the sweet intersection of zucchini bread and carrot cake, and a wonderful way to eat your vegetables and indulge at the same time. Plus, with all the beta carotene from zucchini AND carrots, coupled with the fiber and minerals in the whole wheat flour, you won’t have to feel guilty going back for seconds (or thirds, I won’t tell).
Zucchini Carrot Cake
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (I mixed vegetable and olive oil, about half and half).
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg (optional)
2 cups crated zucchini
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese (I used neufchatel)
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Beat eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl.
3. In another bowl combine flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add gradually to wet ingredients, ensuring no dry flour remains.
4. Add carrots and zucchini. Mix well. Then add nuts and mix again.
5. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 in pan or two round 9-in pans and pour in batter.
6. Bake for 35 minutes, insert a toothpick, and bake longer (up to about 45 or 50 minutes) if tooth pick does not come out clean.
7. While cake cools, make frosting by beating together butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
8. When cake is 100% cool, frost, decorate with nuts (or whatever strikes your fancy), and dig in