Recipe in this post: CARROT & RICOTTA MUFFINS (4 portions)
(600g carrots; 50g ricotta; 15g Parmesan cheese; 1 egg; additional nuts crumble or seeds for the decoration)
Steam the while carrots for about 15-20 minutes till they soften. Cut into batons.
Blitz the carrots with the ricotta cheese, the Parmesan, and the egg. You can use mascarpone cheese instead of the ricotta, if you want to get a richer taste.
Place the mix into paper-lined tins or a muffin tray and bake in hot oven at 180°C fan (400°F) for about 20 minutes.
Once cooked, let the muffins cool down and set for about 10 minutes.
Add some texture and obtain a pleasant polychromatic effect with some pistachio crumb and sesame seeds decorating the top of the muffins, besides using carrots of different colours.
I originally designed this recipe when our child was about one year old and started proper weaning. The fluffiness of these muffins is perfect, even though I do like to elevate them with a combination on different textures, like the pistachio crumble and the sesame seeds in the picture. Adults love these muffins as well!
For the version in the image, I paired the muffins with a mushroom sorbet made with a mix of wild mushrooms, button mushrooms, and dill-infused mascarpone. The gentle sweetness of the carrot muffins works beautifully with the earthiness of the mushroom sorbet. Give it a go and let me know what you like to pair your muffins with!
Warm up the oven to 160ºC fan (350ºF). While it gets to temperature, put the pecan nuts inside with a pinch of salt and sugar for about 10 minutes; let them cool down once done.
Mix the vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl until you obtain a smooth mix. Add the flour, soda bicarbonate, salt, and ground cinnamon to the mix, keeping it as smooth as possible. Grate the carrots over the mix, add the toasted nuts and the zest of 1 orange. Pour the mix inside a lined round tin (26 cm/10″ diameter).
Bake in hot oven at 160°C fan (350°F) for 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool down outside the oven inside the tin for about 10 minutes and then another 10 minutes without the tin.
Prepare the buttercream: mix the softened butter with the sugar first, add mascarpone and cream cheese (if you haven’t got access to mascarpone, you can use 350g of cream cheese), and place in two piping bags in the fridge to chill–you can do this operation while the cake bakes and cools down.
Slice the cake horizontally into two discs. Use one of the two buttercream piping bags to cover the bottom disc, cover with the second disc, and decorate the latter with the second piping bag of buttercream. I also add a thin rim of 1 freshly grated carrot on the edge to complete the decoration.
The first time I wrote this recipe, I was nervous about the feedback, because here in UK you can never go wrong with a carrot cake, as long as it is perfect! I first tested it with a few friends who grew up in West London and had carrot cake often enough to judge every aspect of it, mercilessly. Luckily, my cake passed the test with full marks.
With this recipe, the cake is moist yet with a good spongy bite. You can feel the carrots’ texture, as they are grated fresh into the mix. The pecan nuts are well balanced and add that yummy crunch here and there in the dough, while the cinnamon and orange perfumes intertwine in the nose. My Italian-tainted buttercream, made with a part of mascarpone, was also happily received, and it does work well without any vanilla, just the way it is. Try the recipe and let me know! Success is guaranteed!