Making homemade desserts and figuring out what to pair them with can be a challenge for even a seasoned baker. Deciding what flavor of ice cream to pair carrot cake with is especially challenging, as the two are not paired particularly often.
This being said, carrot cake and ice cream are a sophisticated and fun combination for any birthday or dinner party.
What Is Carrot Cake?
Before we talk about ice creams, it is essential to understand what a carrot cake is. This will help you to choose a suitable ice cream flavor to complement the carrot cake.
Carrot cake is thought to have originated in England in the Middle Ages, where carrots were sometimes used due to the costliness of sugar. Carrot cake is made from a batter that contains carrots, nuts like pecans or walnuts, and spices like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
Candied fruit and raisins are sometimes added to the batter. The cake is usually topped with a cream cheese frosting that adds a creamy element. Now that you have been reminded of the flavors in a good carrot cake, we can look at ice creams that would complement these flavors.
What Ice Cream Goes with Carrot Cake?
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Vanilla bean ice cream is a creamy ice cream flavored with real vanilla bean pods. Vanilla bean ice cream is generally quite expensive since the vanilla pods are very expensive. This is because the vanilla vine takes 2-4 years to reach maturity, and its flowers bloom for only one day a year!
All of the vanilla flowers must be pollinated on that day if the plant is to produce vanilla beans. However, if you can afford them, vanilla beans give the ice cream a deliciously rich flavor that just can’t be replicated with artificial vanilla flavorings.
You will be able to identify real vanilla bean ice cream by the small black flecks. Vanilla beans have a delicate, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with most desserts, including carrot cake. A simple vanilla bean ice cream recipe has been attached at the end of the article.
- Ordinary Vanilla Ice Cream
If you cannot find genuine vanilla bean ice cream or it’s out of your budget, you can use vanilla ice cream that has been made with vanilla essence or extract rather than real vanilla bean pods. This ice cream is readily available in restaurants and grocery stores.
Since this vanilla ice cream is not made with pods, it does not have black flecks like the vanilla bean ice cream. However, ordinary vanilla ice cream has a similar flavor to vanilla bean ice cream and thus pairs well with carrot cake.
- Ginger Ice Cream
Since carrot cake often contains ginger, ginger ice cream will elevate the carrot cake even further. Ginger ice cream has a spicy flavor that will cut through the sweetness of the carrot cake.
Choose an ice cream that makes use of fresh ginger rather than dried ginger as it has a more complex, pungent flavor. You can serve it with a dusting of dried ginger powder on top of the scoop of ice cream or on the plate for decoration.
Alternatively, place a piece of candied ginger on top of each scoop of ice cream for a decadent feel. This ice cream flavor may be too spicy for children but will work perfectly for adult dinner parties.
- Cinnamon Ice Cream
Cinnamon ice cream is a great alternative to the spicier ginger ice cream if the dessert is for a children’s birthday party. Cinnamon ice cream has a sweeter flavor than ginger ice cream.
Since cinnamon is also used in carrot cake, cinnamon ice cream will also elevate the dish wonderfully. This ice cream flavor also goes well with apple pie. Serve with a small piece of cinnamon bark on top of each scoop of ice cream for decoration.
- Maple Walnut Ice Cream
Since most carrot cakes contain nuts, maple walnut ice cream is the perfect pairing option. It will provide both a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. Additionally, anyone with a sweet tooth will love the maple syrup! Some brands even add maple flakes for crunch.
In addition to carrot cake, you can serve maple walnut ice cream with apple pies and apple crisps. If you are making your own ice cream, remember to roughly chop the walnuts and roast them before adding them to your ice cream. This will enhance their flavor and create a crunchy texture.
Easy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe
- Use a food processor or hand mixer and bowl to whisk the sugar, milk, and heavy cream. Whisk until the sugar granules are completely dissolved.
- Cut the vanilla bean in half from top to bottom and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture. Add the vanilla extract and whisk. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight to allow for the extraction of the vanilla flavor. Don’t waste the scraped vanilla pod but use it to flavor a jar of sugar.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn until frozen. Serve immediately or transfer into a lunchbox in the freezer.
Enjoy with carrot cake!