Craving for a Comforting Christmas Carrot Cake

Comforting carrot cake

The holiday season was already in full swing, and during the weekend before Christmas, the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere arrived unabashedly, bringing a wild and wicked weather system that walloped southern and eastern Ontario, extreme southern Quebec, and the Maritimes. With heavy snow showers mixed with intense freezing precipitation, the relentless ice storm inflicted havoc and left an ecologically-scarred landscape glazed in glassy ice. The brutal blizzard caused treacherous road conditions for nervous motorists and pedestrians as the freezing rain and ice pellets perilously coated streets, highways, sidewalks, driveways, and stairways; severe environmental assault as numerous trees, branches, and limbs split, snapped, broke, and fell under the sheer weight of the accumulating ice; dramatic travel delays and chaos for frustrated travellers as they frantically struggled to reach their designated destination; and widespread power outages which affected hundreds of thousands of residents shivering in their cold and dark homes. The impact of the natural disturbance was devastating.

For many, it was a white but black Christmas. As utility crews strived to restore power after the massive ice storm, a large number of people were still without electricity after the catastrophic incident and tried to cope with the holiday hardship.

Fortunately, the power was not knocked out in the Montreal borough where I am currently living. In the cozy, confined comfort of my humble home, I was able to celebrate the cultural occasion and took solace in the festive fare, from roasted chestnuts to mulled wine. But I had a hankering for something sweet and scrumptious, specifically, a craving for some comforting carrot cake, the homespun sweet staple which descended from the Medieval European carrot pudding and has remained a perennial favourite around the world, its ethnic variants and variations, ranging from the almond-enhanced Swiss Aargauer Rüeblitorte to the chocolate-glazed Brazilian bolo de cenoura. So on Christmas Day, to satisfy my sweet fix, I retreated to the kitchen, rolled up my sleeves, and worked away peacefully and diligently, assembling utensils and cookware, grating carrots, and mixing and folding ingredients together. When I completed my culinary undertaking, I prepared not just one but two perfectly baked cakes from scratch.

Coconut carrot cake

Surrounded by the assertive, intoxicating scent of fresh, homemade goodness which wafted through the air and around my dwellings, I took my first morsel of what would turn out to be a simple yet sumptuous delicacy. For the occasion, the ubiquitous classic was reinterpreted with a celebratory twist. Gentler and lighter than the traditional Christmas fruit cake, the crowd-pleasing dish was densely moist yet strikingly fluffy. Plentifully flecked with finely shredded carrots which lent a natural sweetness to the delectable dessert, my version of the old standby was handsomely studded with coarsely chopped toasted walnuts, providing a subtle earthy crunch to the texture, and perfumed confidently with a mélange of cinnamon and other exotic, aromatic spices, adding further depth and complexity of flavour to this tempting, toothsome treat. To impart a whimsical touch and wintery feel to the overall culinary composition, the top of the delicate yet firm vegetable-based concoction was covered with a liberal dusting of desiccated coconut snow instead of the common coating of cream cheese frosting. The seductively sinful spice gâteau, which was not overly sweet, was generously jazzed up with Jamaican rum to warm the heart and soul. Nutty, nice, naughty, and narcotic-like, the flavourfully rich rendition of this iconic cake was absolutely addictive and irresistibly indulgent, and it didn’t take very long for both of the large, deep and dark, disc-shaped delights to completely vanish from the serving plates, the damp, coarse crumbs and soft coconut threads remaining as mere traces of evidence of my Christmas culinary creation.

Slice of Christmas coconut carrot cake laced with rum

As I sat relaxingly in my sofa and savoured other dangerously decadent accoutrements in rapturous contentment, I reminisced about my joie de vivre episodes, including the joy of holiday baking, sharing, and eating, and reflected on the dramatic and defining moments in my life during the past year. La vita è ancora bella. Replete with unexpected adventures, adversities, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of varying degrees, life enriches us as we continue on our journey of discovery and experience.

In the spirit of renewal, hope, enthusiasm, and optimism, I bid farewell to the old year and ushered in the new one, a time to turn over a new leaf and to start afresh. As a new chapter unfolds, I look forward to exploring and experiencing what 2014 has in store for me, and of course, to creating and consuming more of my comforting coconut carrot cake.

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