Dessert of the Year: Le Pigeon's Curried Carrot Cake

How Chef Gabriel Rucker and rising pastry talent Eli Gregory found the sweet spot of 2013.

By Karen Brooks November 1, 2013 Published in the November 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

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With Indian spices, seesaws of sweet and sour, and snaps of fresh-puffed rice, Le Pigeon has managed to reinvent the carrot cake. In this rendition, a landscape of curry and crunch replaces the usual wedge and ice cream scoop—and that’s before you rake your fork through goat cheese frosting and pools of bright, tart tamarind. Each bite is a mouthful of pleasure that taps Le Pigeon’s classic modus operandi: repeating flavors in multiple formats. We peeked in the kitchen to see how chef Gabriel Rucker and rising pastry talent Eli Gregory found the sweet spot of the year.

• Curried Carrot Cake and Goat Cheese Frosting: The cake itself doubles down on depth, boasting carrot shreds and carrot purée, a legacy of former Le Pigeon pastry chef Lauren Fortgang. Gregory’s brainstorm: adding curry powder, cardamom, and sheets of goat cheese icing. 

• Candied Lime Zest: Little shocks of sugared citrus peel ride on top. Discovering them is like finding a bag of Sour Patch Kids at a Bollywood movie. 

• Cardamom Goat Cheese Ice Cream: Warm cream leaches out black cardamom’s smoky spice. Then come eggs, sugar, and the tang of goat cheese within an ice cream both suave and sultry. 

• Curried Tuille: “Curry with a crunch.” That’s what Rucker calls this thin, crackling, hand-formed cookie. But mostly, it bridges the cake and ice cream to create a unified country. 

• Tamarind Lime Sauce: For a final flavor frontier, Rucker suggested something with the mouthfeel of aged balsamic vinegar—full and rich. Gregory’s response: tamarind concentrate, lime, honey, done! 

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