BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Down the Rabbit Hole

37 Comments

Catching everyone by surprise, the wild raspberries are early bloomers this year, springing forth in clusters of ruby red jewels, dripping from vines heavy with their bounty. There’s not a moment to lose when it’s first come, first serve, and the birds tend to have a more flexible schedule for picking. Ready or not, here I come, but this year has already been somewhat of a disappointment. With my dad overseas on work, it’s not nearly such a joyous event to trudge out into the thorns and mosquitoes in search of a few small berries. Needless to say, yields have suffered tremendously as well, and there’s no chance that I’ll even come close to our record.

But, as they say, the show must go on, and it would be a shame to let all of that edible plunder out there go to waste. Doing my best to reach the farthest branches the treasure deeply buried within the wilderness of suburban Connecticut, I donned long sleeves and pants, braving the oppressive heat, and gave it my all. Before long, a neat little pile of still-warm raspberries sat heaped in my basket. Mother nature waits for no one, so it was a relief to have made it to my favorite picking spot seemingly just in time. All was right with the world again.

Lulled into a false sense of safety, despite being temporarily jolted into high alert after shaking a tennis ball-sized beetle off my hand, I was feeling pretty good about this first solo venture. Moving a bit further into the woods, I was now venturing into unknown territory… And that’s when the ground went out beneath me.

Suddenly I was falling, down, down, down, shockingly far into the earth. When I finally got my footing again, my painstakingly gathered berries were scattered and smashed all over the moldy forest floor, and I was literally knee-deep in some mysterious hole! Completely covered with vines, like some fiendish trap, I hadn’t seen any hint or warning of what I was stepping into, despite having checked my footing beforehand. Unhurt but as crushed as those wasted berries, the fruits of my labor sent to rot, I quickly pulled myself up and high-tailed it out of there. There’s no telling what sort of creature (or monster, perhaps) created a trench of such a size, but let’s just say it was a rabbit, for comfort’s sake. Yes, a cute, fuzzy rabbit that certainly would not have eaten me. I feel much better about that.

Returning on a separate occasion to gather a conservative punnet of raspberries, carefully staying far away from the booby-trap hidden within the woods, I still couldn’t stop thinking about that bizarre rabbit hole. Even after finally securing my berries and returning home, the image of perhaps a giant rabbit the size of an SUV danced through my mind… Or maybe they had mistaken me for Alice, perhaps. So I did the only logical thing I could think of, as an offering of sorts to this mystical and mysterious rabbit: Make carrot cake.

That would be raspberry carrot cake, of course! Dotted with tiny, crunchy clusters of wild berries, it’s more or less a standard carrot cake, but I felt compelled to share the recipe. After bringing a batch to both friends and family, at different events, I’ve been blown away by the rave reviews they received. My perpetually skeptical aunt was amazed that they were vegan, and even my grandma, a seasoned baker, seemed curious about the recipe. What really makes them special, however, is the frosting. Though I was planning to go the traditional cream cheese route, there was none at the grocery store to be found. Reaching instead for the sour cream, it was a happy accident that lead to perhaps the best frosting I’ve ever made, and a new personal favorite.

Light and fluffy, less heavy than a standard buttercream and yet more substantial than airy whipped cream, it’s the Goldilocks of frostings; Just right. Flecked with real vanilla bean, it’s delicately flavored and a treat for the eyes as well. Even if you don’t care for carrot cake, or have fears of a demonic bunny looming in your mind that must be assuaged, I insist that you still try the frosting. You don’t even have to go foraging in the woods for it.

Raspberry Carrot Cake

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Shredded Carrot
1 Cup Fresh Raspberries
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
3/4 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed

Sour Cream Frosting

1/2 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine, at Room Temperature.
1/2 Cup Vegan “Sour Cream”
1/2 Vanilla Bean, Seeds Scraped
3 – 4 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 12 standard muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt so that all of the dry goods are evenly distributed. Add in the shredded carrot and raspberries, and toss to coat in flour. Set aside.

Separately, whisk together the oil, non-dairy milk of choice, vinegar, and brown sugar. Once the sugar is more or less dissolved, pour the whole mixture into your bowl of dry ingredients. Stir gently with a wide spatula so as not to smash the berries, just until the batter comes together. A few lumps are just fine, as long as you don’t over-mix.

Evenly dose out the batter between your prepared muffin tins. These bake up to be fairly large cupcakes, so don’t be afraid to mound that batter up in the center. Bake for 26 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out dry. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, first soften the margarine in the stand mixer by briefly beating it alone. Add in the “sour cream,” scrapped vanilla bean, and 2 cups of the confectioner’s sugar. Start the mixer on a low speed until the sugar is mostly incorporated, and then pause, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add in another cup of sugar. Start slowly again, and then once everything is assimilated, turn up the mixer to high and whip the frosting for about 4 minutes. Pause, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and if it is too loose for your liking, add the remaining cup of sugar. Get that final addition mixed in as well, and whip for another 4 – 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. The key to the texture is patience; You must allow a good amount of time for the mixer to work its magic. Once it’s at the consistency you desire, frost away!

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

37 thoughts on “Down the Rabbit Hole

  1. that beetle sounds frightening and the tumble into a mystrious hole quite dreaful. we are all very lucky you came out unscathed and could share this beauty of a recipe with us.

  2. Oh my goodness! Your description of picking raspberries sounded a lot like mine picking mulberries in our front yard, minus the tennis-ball-sized beetle (thank goodness–I would have died), plus the spiders and mosquitoes, and again minus the “rabbit hole.” Are you all right? Evidently you’re all right enough to produce this eloquent piece of non-fiction on the determination and love you have for raspberries, so that’s comforting. The fact that you added them to a carrot cake is creative and marvelous, and I cannot wait to try it. Just yesterday I read about someone adding raspberries to corn bread, so this is the time to experiment and succeed, it seems! And I think all of your readers will be eternally grateful to your supermarket’s being out of cream cheese…. Thank you for sharing this with us! Wishing all of the rabbit holes to stay away from you, despite their adding to an adventurous story, Christina :-)

  3. I love the story behind this recipe (except for the part about you falling…but wouldn’t it be nice to fall into wonderland, of all places?). Raspberry carrot cake sounds delightful and I need to try that frosting!

  4. How cute are those cupcakes! I am totally obsessed with cupcakes, they are my favorite!

  5. mmmm,i’m gonna have to bake some up.love our news letter.

  6. What a wonderful story to go along with wonderful sounding cupcakes!
    However, I’ve got a monstrous supply of peaches on hand instead of raspberries. Once a supply of raspberries come to my house, they will be used in this -I hope!
    :D
    <3

  7. Love the jewel tones in your pictures. Those raspberries look like rubies:-)

  8. Pingback: » Saturday Surfing

  9. Gorgeous berries AND cupcakes!

  10. i really enjoyed reading this (and i’m glad you’re okay!). raspberries sound like a gorgeous addition to carrot cake and i think i may be able to scrape 1/2 cup out of the nearly-empty tub of sour cream in my fridge…if so, tomorrow will be a great day.

  11. I would have high tailed it outta there if a beetle the size of a tennis ball came within an inch of me! Not good with bugs.
    As for the hole, good thing you didn’t hurt anything and just as important, that you were able to gather up all your fruits of labor.

    I’ve never thought of pairing raspberries in a carrot cake. I use pineapple. Your recipe has opened up a door filled with all sorts of carrot cake opportunities. Thank you so much!

  12. What a brilliant segue to cake! And a lovely enough picture of raspberries to make me forget the pain of not having access to them here in Australia right now. Such is the power of your words, photos, and recipes, my dear!

  13. Your words are so wonderful hannah. I loved reading about the rough tale of finally obtaining such fresh and delicious berries. Of course everyone raved about those…raspberry carrot cake with a “sour cream” frosting…I can’t imagine and must make these to please my taste buds!

  14. Oh my,luckily nothing worse happened to you and what a great inspiration that rabbit hole gave you!Raspberries are such lovely berries;when I left Finland a week and a half ago they were still unripe.

  15. what an adventure! and beautiful cupcakes.

  16. I so envy of those respberries, so plenty full and so gorgeously red! Truly like a handful of red rubies, pure of glamour! lovely! and a damn good recipe you have there! :)

  17. Raspberry carrot cake, that sounds so good! I love raspberries, we’ve made both raspberry ice cream and sorbet so far this summer :)

  18. Wow–falling into that hole must have been crazy! I was loving the wild raspberries around my cabin this year. Didn’t have enough time to pick and enjoy them as I would have liked, but there’s something so lovely about foraging food. And those cupcakes–oh my goodness, what a delicious combo!

  19. That had to be a totally scary experience!! You were brave to return without a companion, that’s for sure!

    Now, about the recipe…it looks absolutely irresistible. Does the frosting keep well? Could it be frozen, do you think? I’d love to make this for a friend whose favorite all time food (no, not dessert….food!) is carrot cake. But I need to know if it keeps well. Especially the frosting.

    Thanks!!

  20. WOW.. Raspberry Carrot Cake… who would have thought of that? I give you credit just for being so creative. These look so freakin good! I wish i could have one right now. I love how this recipe uses oil and probably pretty okay in terms of calories and fat. Great JOB!

  21. Raspberries are a great addition to the carrot cake and these cupcakes are looking scrumptious!

  22. Okay, lemme get this straight… a giant rabbit told you to make carrot cake? What ARE in those raspberries!? ;)

  23. These sound amazing. I’ll definitely be making these and adding some crystallized ginger and macadamia nuts. YUM!

  24. Ok, you got me. I thought for sure this was going to be one of your knitted creatures story. :-) Glad to hear your fall wasn’t too bad and you were actually inspired to create such a yummy looking carrot cake.

  25. This looks so delicious! I’ve never even thought to add raspberries to carrot cake.

  26. Raspberry carrot cupcakes…My a new favorite dessert! :)

  27. Your adventure sounds like a real-life fairy tale, Hannah! As always, you’ve made a wonderful treat out of it and all of us readers can only drool and feel grateful (=.

  28. Very cute post :D

    Sounds like an interesting recipe… I think I’d like to give it a shot! I’ve been looking for ways to use up the raspberries on the garden and haven’t had much luck. Something seems wrong with just eating them plain, you know? Haha

  29. Looks yummy, tho on my budget I’ll have to substitute extract for the bean. :D Thank goodness summer berry season! :3 Thanks for the recipe!

  30. I love the idea of combining carrot cake and raspberries, sounds divine!

  31. Raspberries look delicious Hannah! And your photos are beautiful as always!

    Kathy

  32. Oh Hannah, thank you thank you so for this recipe! I’ve not yet had a vegan sour cream frosting but this really does seem like that just right consistency! I can not wait to try this, and I will be very very soon. You’re recipes are wonderful :)

  33. Thanks for this recipe! I’m planning to make these for my daughter’s 1st birthday party. She loves raspberries and carrots! I can’t wait to see how this comes out. I’m going to use coconut, nuts, and seeds to make the tops look like animals. Wish me luck, huh? :)

  34. Hi Hannah, I was just wondering if the “sour cream” frosting can be refrigerated for an extended period of time like a week?

  35. Sharing this with a friend….happy new year! R

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