I discovered two things when I indulged in my layer cake cravings and made a centrepiece-worthy Mango Coconut Carrot Cake for Easter. First, I can ice a cake like it’s nobody’s business. I bet my Art of Cake culinary school instructor would be proud. The other thing is that I miss my crafty days. Making an edible Easter Bunny cake topper completed with carrots reminded me how much I love to make figurines. I sense a trip to my local craft store this weekend to pick up some moulding clay.
Sometimes I can be unnecessarily fussy. Carrot cake is good on its own but it’s just not the same if the cute little miniature carrots are missing. I made them with marzipan before with a little ruffle of green icing. Since Easter is coming up this weekend and the promise of spring is in the air, those little carrots were calling my name. I am not particularly attached to any carrot cake recipe as long as my cake comes out tall and regal with plenty of tangy cream cheese icing! With the help of Eat Your Books, I unearthed an interesting variation from 2008 issue of Best Of America’s Test Kitchen. This Cook’s Country recipe of Tropical Carrot Cake combines the wholesome profile of carrot cake with dashes of tropical flair like coconut and pineapple. I could not locate frozen pineapple nor pineapple juice concentrate at my local supermarket. Luckily, the mango counterparts were readily available and on sale. That was the beginning of my Mango Coconut Carrot Cake.
Like most layer cakes, this multipart recipe is more involved than simple muffins or cookies. You need both a food processor and a stand mixer plus a sink’s worth of dishes to wash. I’m normally drawn to simpler recipes but there are times to pull out all the stops. The two layers of cake is flecked with grated carrot, coconut, and thickened mango puree. Some would call it moist, I think it is dense. What it doesn’t lack though is tropical flair. Even with addition of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and allspice, the taste of coconut and mango is front and centre. Once you pair the cake with the tangy sweet mango cream cheese frosting and crunchy toasted coconut, the whole experience comes together beautifully. Images of sun, surf, and drinks with paper parasol flashes in my head. I think a swig of coconut rum would fit right in.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, the thermometer cruelly reminds me that the temperature outside barely reaches past 10C. Warm tropical weather cannot be further away from me right now but spring is just around the corner. My family doesn’t really celebrate Easter but I do like the theme of renewal and birth this time of year. How the Easter Bunny fit into this I do not know. But bunny and carrots go hand in hand, right? I took some white moulding chocolate and played around with these edible playdoh. I tinted them in shades of pink, orange, and green using gel food colouring and knead them into shape. A bunny with perky pink ears and round pink belly was pretty easy to make. I tacked on fat arms and oversized feet to its body and two grains of black sanding sugar were its beady eyes. Don’t forget cotton tail!
The carrots were child’s play compare to the bunny. I rolled the moulding chocolate into a slender rope and snipped it into four pieces. I simply tapered the ends and marked the carrot with some indentations for a prettier look. I flattened small pieces of the green chocolate and attached them to one end of the carrots. Using a pair of kitchen shears, I made small snips to make them look leafy. The trickiest part was keeping my hands free of food colouring!
It’s not too late to get started on this recipe for it to be ready for Easter weekend. I split the work over three days for the sake of convenience. On day 1, I made the mango pudding and grated the carrots. Day 2 I baked the cake layers and toasted the coconut. On day 3, I made the cake topper, cream cheese frosting, and assembled the cake. I hope you’ll give it a try too!
Want more Easter treats? My Easter Cupcake is quick and easy! Do you prefer your hot cross buns traditional or with a modern twist (did someone say maple, banana, pecan?)? If you’re not into baking at home, don’t hesitate to drop by your local Italian bakery for some zeppole. They are to die for.