Mini carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting and pistachios

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Adorable dessert alert!

Bake my spin on carrot cake in a muffin tin or brownie pan (like this one), then decorate with some shaved carrots and pistachios, and you’ve got a lovely little birthday or brunch treat.

Cream cheese frosting is standard with carrot cakes, but nutty tahini adds a little something extra. I tinkered with the blend a lot to get something that was just sweet enough without being overpowering. Feel free to add more or less sugar to your taste. A pinch of cinnamon wouldn’t hurt, either. (Click here to read more.)

Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

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For the cake:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup olive oil

½ cup butter, melted and cooled (browned slightly if you like)

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups freshly shredded carrots

½ cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped, optional

Sesame seeds, pistachios, shredded carrots, for serving

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons tahini

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch cake pans or a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom.

In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the olive oil, butter and applesauce and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just a couple of times. Add the carrots and pistachios, if using, and mix just to incorporate.

Pour the batter into cake pans or muffin tin and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I’d start checking at around 25 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then gently remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Blend cream cheese and butter in a bowl, then add sugar and salt and blend again. Add tahini and vanilla, blend and taste. If it’s not sweet enough for you, add more sugar by the tablespoonful.

Frost cake liberally with frosting and decorate with sesame seeds, pistachios and shredded carrots