Dessert First

Carrot Cake at That's a Wrap

If you regularly eat lunch in central Phoenix, you've probably stopped by That's a Wrap. With 12 varieties of wraps to choose from, along with salads and rice bowls, there's something on the menu for everyone. Favorites include the Buffalo '66 with grilled chicken, hot wing sauce, ranch dressing, and veggies wrapped in an herb tortilla and the Prince of Thai with sautéed peanut chicken, spinach, slaw, garlic cucumbers, red onion, and rice wrapped in a spinach tortilla.

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With the option to order tasty, healthy options online, That's a Wrap is the ultimate convenient local lunch spot. In addition, there's a pastry case by the counter that always has baby bundt cakes and carrot cake. Bad day at work? Cake is a tempting way to alleviate stress. Better yet, if you have something to celebrate -- such as a successful meeting, early project completion, or a Friday -- you might want to add some cake to your order.

The slices of carrot cake are not too big, not too small, so you won't need to take a post-lunch nap at your desk. Also a plus, this is a fairly traditional cake that's not likely to elicit complaints from anyone. There aren't any invasive add-ins like walnuts or golden raisins; it just has plenty of sturdy strands of shredded carrot, thick enough not to disappear into the cake during the baking process. That gives it an evident carroty flavor -- nothing like biting into the crunchy raw vegetable, closer to the subtlety of steamed honey-glazed carrots.

The flavors play out well, so the natural sweetness of the carrots shines through, not the sharp sweetness of too much white sugar. The cake is not overly oily either, as a majority of carrot cakes are prone to be. In fact, it's not even a little oily. A very moist cake, it has a respectable crumb and a fairly light texture. It's topped with a simple and classic cream cheese frosting that's soft and also not too sweet. All in all, it's a pretty good cake -- by no means the best, but a little better than most.

The one thing I kept searching for was more flavor, but then again, carrot cakes tend not to have in-your-face flavor as compared to something like dark chocolate. A little extra spice -- cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of cardamom -- would do wonders, but that also could turn some people away. (FYI, for a spiced baked good that packs a bit of a wallop, pick up the ginger molasses bread at Urban Cookies, available until the end of December.) This cake certainly isn't worth driving across town for, but it is homey, comforting, and delicious. What more do you need for an afternoon indulgence?

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Dominique Chatterjee