A few month ago I had the opportunity to develop the dessert menu for a new restaurant in the city. The desserts were inspired by Indian flavours with the finesse of French patisserie. Since then I have been absolutely obsessed with learning more about Indian desserts and finding ways to fuse techniques I learnt at culinary school with Indian flavours and ingredients.
This new recipe is a twist on a classic North Indian dessert, Gajjar ka Halwa. This dessert usually makes an appearance in Indian households during the winter months as it uses pink carrots grown during this season. It is rich in spices, raisins and nuts which were meant to give you that warm cozy feeling that lights up your soul.
The version I have worked on here is fresher and is a contemporary take on this mother-knows-best dessert. Served cold it’s perfect for a summer post dinner treat for two. It largely owes it sweetness to the carrot and does not contain any added refined sugar. I did use jaggery and raisins and you could choose to replace the jaggery with dates instead to naturally sweeten the cake.
The dessert is essentially a mini cake, it’s modern and topped with pistachio nibs and fresh flowers. I love the naked cake look, it’s so effortlessly chic. The frosting uses a heated milk reduction called Khoa. This can be purchased in Indian sweet stores however if you do have the patience you could make this from scratch by slow cooking a cup of milk to 1/5th its original volume in a heavy bottom pan. This usually takes about 1 and a half hours.
I’ll be honest and admit I am not one to switch out sugar in desserts with a natural alternatives but this year Ramadan has been spent overindulging on our recent travels and iftars with friends. If you feel the same, and really don’t want to compromise on Eid I can’t recommend this Gajjar Halwa Cake enough for your celebration with family and friends. It has all the flavour and moisture and you won’t have to feel like you have to compromise at all.
Gajjar Halwa Cake / Mini Carrot Cake (Sugar Free)
Makes 2 Mini Cakes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Baking Time: 12 mins
For the Cake:
1/2 Cup of All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
80 ml Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup of Grated Jaggery
1/4 Cup of Raisins
3/4 Cup Grated Carrot
1/4 Cup Pecan
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt
For the Frosting:
1/2 Cup of Whipping Cream
1/4 Cup of Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup of Khoa (Dried Milk Reduced by heating Milk to 1/5 of its original volume)
1/4 Cup of Grated Jaggery
1/2 tsp of Ginger Powder
1/2 tsp of Cinnamon Powder
- Preheat oven to 160˚C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Into a large bowl, sieve flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and add grated jaggery and salt.
- In another bowl, mix together vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract and gradually fold in the dry ingredients, carrot, pecans and raisins.
- Pour batter onto the sheet pan.
- Bake it at 160 C for 12 minutes.
- Allow the cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack and cut out circles with a cookie cutter.
- For the frosting whip all the ingredients together.
- Assemble the mini cake by alternating between a layer of cake and frosting. Use 5 layers for each mini cake.
- Frost using a palette knife and garnish with Pistachio nibs and edible flowers.
- Chill the cake before serving