Your best carrot cake recipe will taste even better with a few Candied Carrot Curls on top of the frosting…a picture perfect embellishment. Use this easy method for curling carrot ribbons to put a pretty finishing touch on cupcakes, too.
You’ve grated the carrots, mixed the batter, and slathered on the frosting, but now your carrot cake needs just one more little detail…how about this idea for an edible decoration that you can make while the cake is baking, or even the day before? These bright orange candied carrot ribbons have to be the cutest way to decorate a carrot cake.
Carrot curls are festive, whimsical, and just plain fun! They taste slightly sweet and have just the right amount of crunch. Make as many as you like. Then pile them up on top of a carrot wedding cake or a tray full of cupcakes—it’s like edible confetti.
And it’s fairly easy, once you get the hang of it. All you need—other than your best carrots and a few basic baking items—is a vegetable peeler and a wooden spoon.
How to make candied carrot ribbons:
- First, get ready. The carrots bake at a low temperature, so preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Next, coat a piece of parchment paper with non-stick spray and line a rimmed baking sheet with the treated paper.
- With a vegetable peeler, make the carrot ribbons, shaving off a long, thin slice from end to end of the carrot. You can use rainbow carrots, too! (I always make a few more than I need, just in case a few break.)
- Next, make a simple syrup by heating equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan that can accommodate the number of carrot strips you plan on making. Pour some extra sugar in a bowl, for sprinkling on the curls after they’re formed.
- Once the water and sugar mixture comes to a boil, add the carrot ribbons and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the carrots for 15 minutes, then drain off the simple syrup and let the ribbons cool somewhat.
- When cool enough to handle, arrange the ribbons in a single layer on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Make sure they don’t touch, otherwise they’ll stick together.
- Bake the candied carrot strips at 225 degrees for about 30 minutes, until they look translucent and a little dry.
- Take them out of the oven and let them cool until they’re just cool enough to handle; you want them still warm and pliable.
- Carefully and quickly, working one carrot strip at a time, wrap the carrot around the handle of a wooden spoon to form a tight curl. Then gently slide the curl off of the handle and back onto the paper to dry. Sprinkle the curl with sugar to add some sparkle.
- Let the carrot curls sit out at room temperature to fully dry, at least 30 minutes.
Tips for making candied carrot decorations:
- Nonstick spray. For this project, it really helps to keep the carrot ribbons from sticking to the parchment. You can even spray the wooden spoon handle with some to help them slide off easier, if you need to.
- Sugar. Regular granulated sugar works, but so does superfine sugar, which you can make yourself in a high-speed blender. Just add a small amount of granulated sugar and pulse in only one or two quick bursts to make superfine. Too much, and you’ll have powdered sugar.
- Humidity. Every kitchen is different, so if it’s humid outside, or the carrot curls still feel sticky, pop them into the low oven for another 5-8 minutes to dry out.
- Storing carrot curls. Make up to one day ahead, and store fully-dry carrot ribbons in an airtight tin overnight.
- Don’t worry about breakage. No one will mind if they get a broken piece. They’ll be busy being impressed by all your carrot magic!
- Get creative. Don’t stop at Carrot Cake! Add crispy carrot curls to a frosted zucchini bread, banana cake, Hummingbird Cake— anywhere that needs a pop of color and a little festivity. Sugared carrots taste mild, so they go with almost anything.
Candied Carrot Curls Recipe
- 2 large carrots peeled
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling the curls
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave off 15 to 20 long strips of carrot (strips get wider as you peel in to the middle of the carrot).
- In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar and bring to boil. Add carrot strips, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain well and cool 5 minutes.
- Arrange carrot strips in a single layer on prepared baking sheet (no touching). Bake until the carrot strips begin to look translucent and have dried out, about 30 minutes.
- As soon as the carrot curls are cool enough to handle but still warm, working quickly, wrap each carrot strip around the handle of a wooden spoon to form a curl. Gently slide off handle and sprinkle with sugar. Let sit at room temperature until completely dry, about 30 minutes.