Even though they are readily available year round, for some reason I think of carrots as a spring vegetable. Maybe it's that their lively orange hue makes me think of regrowth and rejuvenation, or maybe it's just because they remind me of the Easter bunny. For whatever reason, every year when the warm weather finally hits, I find myself craving carrot cake.
Last year I made a carrot cake jam adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. While utterly delicious, the jam was exceptionally sweet and dessert-y. (I gave a jar to a friend and she used it as a topping for ice cream.) This year I wanted to make something a little more refined—a preserve that would pair equally well with a wedge of warm spice cake as it would with a slice of hearty whole grain bread.
A mash-up of my carrot cake jam and orange marmalade was the perfect solution. The results are sweet, bright, and citrusy, yet still slightly bitter from the orange peel. A handful of golden raisins and a big pinch of cinnamon add additional reminders of my favorite springtime confection.
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Since making this marmalade took my craving for carrot cake over the top (and since I accidentally bought way too many carrots) I couldn't resist whipping up an easy carrot walnut loaf cake to go with it. Serve slices of the cake spread with cream cheese and marmalade, or skip the cream cheese and top with vanilla ice cream.
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About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.