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Have Your Cake and Improve Your Eyesight, Too: Who Has the Best Carrot Cake?

This week, our taster took one for the team and tried carrot cake at three Lincoln-Way places.

See next week's food challenge at the bottom of this column, comment below and you could receive a $50 gift card to a local restaurant in a random drawing. For more rules and details, see the  guidelines.

Carrots are one of the sweetest vegetables on earth. It only makes sense, then, that they be used to sweeten baked goods. Not only do carrots add natural sweetness, but they offer texture and color, too.

I adore carrot cake; I like mine with walnuts, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, raisins and, of course, cream cheese icing, although some recipes might include pineapple, ginger or even coconut. Carrot cake comes in many forms: sheet cake, layer cake, cupcake, and, as I found at Pickwick, even as mini cupcakes. 

Cucumber sandwiches and lemon muffins are reason enough to pretend to like tea, but for carrot mini cupcakes with cream cheese icing, I'd gladly drink a whole pot of over-steeped Lipton. The tea service at Pickwick is delightful (and the jasmine citrus green tea I selected was actually good enough to make me rethink my anti-tea stance), and if you ask politely, they'll make sure carrot mini cupcakes are the dessert on Jo's Plate.

These mini cupcakes are delicious, especially if you enjoy finely chopped nuts and lots of cream cheese icing. Unfortunately, in cupcakes that tiny, there must have been no room for raisins. The mini cupcakes were heavily spiced, making them a deep brown. This might have been overpowering in a regular sized cupcake, but in a mini cupcake, the spices were just right.

The good: Tasty, moist mini cupcakes packed a lot of flavor.

The bad: The icing was a bit too sweet. 

Papa Joe's carrot cake is moist, not overly spicy, and contains just the right amount of chopped nuts. Sadly, this carrot cake also lacks raisins.

The good: A moist cake with just the right amount of nuts and spices.

The bad: This cream cheese icing was disappointing; it was very sweet and off-puttingly grainy, almost as if it had been made with granulated sugar instead of confectioners' sugar. 

Believe it or not, I found the carrot cake I was looking for at Denny's. Although it could have been a little heavier on the cinnamon and cloves, this cake made me happy with its nuts, golden raisins, and delicious cream cheese icing that's not grainy or too sweet. I wished the outside layer of icing had been thicker; it was really good. Unfortunately, I don't think enough people order the carrot cake at Denny's because my slice was dried out.

The good: This carrot cake has it all: nuts, raisins and tasty icing.

The bad: The cake I was served was a day or two past its prime; it was dry.

THE WINNER: Of these three, the mini cupcakes from Pickwick Society had the best flavor, offering two of the best bites you'll have all day.

(Honorable mention: the best carrot cake I've had in Lincoln-Way is from , and had I included Williamson's in this challenge, I'm fairly certain it would have won. Just ask them to hold the caramel sauce they use to garnish the cake.)

Looking for local eats? Do you disagree with our taster? Head  over to your local Patch Places food and dining directory. Find new spots, read reviews and even post a your own reviews on the profile pages.

For next week, we're staying on the sweet side with coffee drinks. What iced or frozen coffee drink is your favorite in Lincoln-Way? Do you frequent an independent coffee shop? Or do you like the iced caramel latte from Dunkin or a frappuccino from ? Comment below for a chance to win a $50 gift card.

kokes May 22, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Peppermint mocha frappuccino! Find me the best one please.
N Yan May 22, 2011 at 06:33 PM
I'm not a fan of carrot cake... but the Pickwick Society is such a great place! :)
KMK May 22, 2011 at 11:28 PM
French Vanilla Iced Coffee from Dunkin of course!
Michael Sewall May 29, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Kathy, you won a random drawing today to become a finalist for our monthly gift card giveaway! Toward the end of June, we'll conduct another random drawing among four finalists and the winner will get a $50 gift card to a featured local restaurant. Thank you for reading Patch!

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