Costco's Seasonal Carrot Cake Has A Surprising Ingredient

Carrot cake has been a regular among sweet selections for hundreds of years. While it might seem like a stretch to think of making a cake from a vegetable, carrot cake was created in a time when ingredients were scarce and bakers had to tap into their creativity. As reported by the Food Timeline, the Oxford Companion to Food suggests the first rendition of this dessert was likely carrot pudding during the medieval period. However, something more akin to the present-day carrot cake was introduced by the British during World War II as a solution to sugar rations, as noted by the World Carrot Museum

The original recipe provided by the British Ministry of Food in the early 1940s can be found on the Carrot Museum's website. It definitely reflects the difficult times and rationing, such as using a dried reconstituted egg in the recipe. The dessert was promoted as Dr. Carrot's Healthy Cake, with public encouragement to include the vegetable in their diet for its wide range of qualities. The British Ministry was already aware of the antioxidant properties of carrots, and suggested their natural sweetness was a great way to curb sugar cravings in children!

While the average modern-day child might not enjoy munching on raw carrots instead of sweets, there's no denying carrots contain sugar (via Healthline). This makes them a great sub-in to sweeten baked goods. Case in point, Costco's seasonal four-pound ten-inch carrot cake, which comes out at Easter time.

Modern day variations of carrot cake

Costco's carrot cake is definitely an example of carrot cake diverging from its earlier conception as a low-sugar option. Costco has come up with a few variations over the years, including a slightly more compact two-and-a-half pound carrot bar cake (via Best Products). There also seem to be some regional variations including a Hawaiian carrot cake with candied pineapple, according to Costco Finds Canada's Instagram page. 

However, it seems like their loyal customers have been eager for the return of the four-pound concoction and are delighted each time it comes back. It's consistently popular and splashed all over social media, as Delish recognizes by all the Instagram posts and buzz about it. Even The Costco Connoisseur Instagram account once raved about bringing one of these cakes home. And though it's no longer World War II, this Costco carrot cake has a secret weapon on its ingredient list.

Complementing flavors make for the perfect bite

Delish goes on to describe what they call a "masterpiece" made up of two layers of cake covered in cream cheese icing and carrot cake crumbs. The inside is a mix of classic toasted walnuts and an apricot filling that is sure to surprise and impress any carrot cake lover. While unexpected, a quick recipe search online shows that apricot in carrot cake might not be so uncommon (via Country Living). While there is surely some extra sugar added, apricots and other dried fruit are also a great way to sweeten a cake without just resorting to pure sugar.

Costco's apricot version is so popular that foodies are making their own renditions. Mutt and Chops recognizes how the sweet and sour apricot creates the ideal balance, cutting through the indulgent nature of a cream cheese frosting-covered cake. Indeed, when searching for complementing flavors for cake recipes, Craftsy notes that many carrot cakes contain raisins, pineapple, or other "sweet fruits" in the batter.

Costco's carrot cake is a cross between tradition and innovation

Looking back at the ingredients for the carrot cake recommended by the British Ministry of Food, we also see the use of dried fruit, according to the World Carrot Museum. Ultimately, this cake is a perfect cross between a traditional carrot cake and a fun twist sure to keep you coming back for seconds. Thankfully there is more than enough with this four-pound jumbo cake! Historically, it has also been incredibly reasonably priced at around $14, considering the number of portions you can slice from the giant cake. 

There's no beating Costco for a great deal. Try finding a cake of this size elsewhere at this price. Even better, the carrot cake is already made, so you can enjoy the best part about baking, sitting down to feast on your masterpiece, without doing all of the work! If you want to add another super-sized Costco cake to your dinner table, they make other seasonal specialties such as a four-pound pumpkin pie or a five-pound spiced cheesecake (via Pop Sugar). Easter dessert has never been easier.