Carrot Cake With Maple Syrup Frosting And Toasted Walnuts

Carrots are pretty sweet on their own, so it's fairly easy to reduce the amount of sugar — or eliminate it altogether and use agave nectar instead. While there's a bit of controversy concerning agave — some claim it's just as "bad" as sugar — I like it for its sweet, yet light, flavor that never overwhelms. And the cream cheese frosting infused with maple syrup is reason enough to bake this cake.

Carrot Cake With Maple Syrup Frosting And Toasted Walnuts i i
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR
Carrot Cake With Maple Syrup Frosting And Toasted Walnuts
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR

Makes 10 servings

4 large carrots, peeled

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup agave nectar, available at health food stores

1 1/4 cups canola oil

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup raisins

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 packages cream cheese (12 ounces total?), softened

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and a mini loaf pan.

Grate the carrots and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend.

Whisk the agave and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add flour mixture and stir, and whisk until blended. Stir in carrots, 1 cup of walnuts and raisins.

Bake for about 45 minutes for the loaf and about 30 minutes for the mini loaf. Remove from oven and let the loaves rest in their pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and wait until cool to frost.

Frosting

Whisk the maple syrup into the cream cheese, whisking and stirring to blend. Add a little more maple syrup if the frosting is too thick.

To assemble, spread a light layer of cream cheese onto each loaf, swirling decoratively. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts.

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