Maybe you want to eat carrot cake all the time. (And we wouldn’t blame you; it’s sinfully decadent, and you can count it as a vegetable. Sort of.) Rather than planning out your meals and trying to work carrot cake into the repertoire, why not plan to eat carrot cake and work your meals around it?
Carrot cake is just the right mix of sugar and spice, so it pairs nicely with a variety of flavors. To start with, there are endless frosting options beyond the usual (and oh-so-delicious) cream cheese topping. Just as the slightly tangy quality of the cream cheese pairs nicely with the sweetness of carrot cake or carrot cupcakes, so too do sour-cream frostings. You may also opt for a buttermilk or orange glaze, or for butter or vanilla cream.
For pairings that work well in the batter and can take ordinary carrot cake to the next level, try throwing in some raisins, applesauce or pineapple chunks. You can also take your batter up a notch with some coconut, lemon zest or orange curd. Chopped nuts work well, also. You might want to avoid adding extra carrot-cake-type spices, such as ginger, so that you don’t mask the true flavor or the carrots. (And if you’re a carrot cake purist, there’s nothing wrong with that. Use freshly grated carrots from your local farmers market, leave all the extras out, and top with homemade cream cheese frosting.)
Carrot cake is a nice coda to a meal featuring beef as the main course, though it works just as well as a snack alongside a tall glass of milk, particularly if you make carrot cake muffins or a carrot cake quick bread.