I was so excited about growing these fluorescent ‘Deep Purple’ carrots, I thought they deserved a fate a bit more more special than being turned into soup. The answer? Why e-numberless purple carrot cheesecake of course!
WHAT ARE PURPLE CARROTS?
Before you ask, nope there has been no GM jiggery pockery here. Purple is in fact the original colour of carrots, with the plain orange form we know today actually only becoming popularised in the 17th Century.
This weird and wonderful colour comes from the same pigments that give fruit like blueberries and black grapes their characteristic hue and sky-high antioxidant levels, making them so much healthier than the boring supermarket form. Stunning colour, intense, sweet flavour and they just might help stave off impending wrinkliness: What’s not to like?
HOW TO GROW PURPLE CARROTS
Purple carrots are just as easy to grow as regular ones even in the tiniest plot. The is a fantastically detailed guide on exactly how to do this on the RHS Grow Your Own website.
There is only one catch however and that is tracking down the seed in the UK. Sadly although pretty much all of our major catalogs will claim to offer ‘purple’ carrot seed, the single variety they sell (‘Purple Haze’) actually only has a purple skin, remaining bog standard orange just beyond the surface. WTF!?
A quick few clicks online however will pull up a good range of international suppliers selling the illusive ‘Deep Purple’, which as you can see is pure burgundy to the core. Most of these seed suppliers (mainly US-based) will deliver pretty much anywhere in the world at very reasonable rates. The guys I get mine from are Tradewinds Fruit – who I am slightly addicted to buying quirky veg seed from.
PURPLE CARROT CHEESECAKE
When I first sliced into these beauties I noticed how incredibly intensely they stained the chopping board and wondered if you could use this dye as a natural food colouring in baking – say in carrot cake.
As my favourite bit about carrot cake has always been that sacrelicious combo of creamy cheese frosting and warm spices, I thought why not turn just ‘em into a cheesecake? And to my surprise it actually worked out pretty tasty. Don’t believe me? Here’s the recipe…..
STEP 1 GRATE: Start out by peeling & grating 2 large carrots really nice and fine. I used a microplane (superfine grater) to turn ‘em in to confetti-like fluff rather than big crunchy shards. While you’re at it, grate up a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger and the zest of an unwaxed lemon.
STEP 2 TOSS: Toss the various gratings into a large mixing bowl with 3 large eggs, 1 tsp of mixed spice, 1tsp of lemon juice, 1 tblsp of cornflour, 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, 250g caster sugar & 800g of cream cheese (about 3 packets of Philly).
STEP 3 STIR: Stir the whole mixed together till the nearly black carrot grating dye the whole lot a fluorescent purple hue.
STEP 4 POUR: Pour the mix over a pre-prepared cheesecake crust in a WATER TIGHT pie dish (I will explain why in the next step). You can buy one ready made or make your own according to any standard Delia-type mix. She has a great recipe for one here: Delia’s cheesecake crust recipe.
STEP 5 BAKE: Place the now ready-to-bake pie dish into a large roasting tin and fill the tin with boiling water to half way up the sides of the pie dish (hence why the dish needs to be watertight). This works to stabilise baking temperature and ensure the cheesecake cooks evenly.
Then carefully pick the whole contraption up with oven gloves and pop it in a medium oven set at 175C for 55-60 minutes until it is just set, with still a little bit of wobble in the centre.
STEP 6 COOL: Remove from the oven, and keeping the cake still in its mould, leave it to cool on a sideboard until completely cold. Then wrap it in cling film then let it chill overnight in the fridge. Once this is done remove carefully from the tin, slice and serve with an (optional) decoration of carrot slices & leaves. Yum!