As a child I steered away from carrot cake. There was no way I was going to eat vegetables for desserts. Of course my mother tried to convince me that it tasted good, just as good as chocolate cake, but I knew better than that.
All my life I was misinformed. Carrot cake is by no means healthy, light, or low fat. Just like its friends banana nut bread and zucchini bread, they try to fool you with fruits and vegetables in their name but they’re just as bad as any other baked good. They’re like children who seem so sweet and innocent while they sleep but are evil, loud, and messy when awake.
The original recipe for this cake called for dried apricots, however, I am not a fan of dried fruits in cakes because they remind me too much of fruitcake and panettone, which I can only stomach during the holidays. Instead, I used a combination of toasted walnuts and almonds (and if I had pecans, I would have used that too). The toasted nuts give nice texture to this super moist and flavorful cake.
The shredded carrots add another dimension of sweetness that complement the brown sugar cream cheese between the two layers. I also did a crumb coat with the same cream cheese and then frosted the entire cake in a subtle but very tasty caramel buttercream. I made a couple mini roses out of pink colored marzipan to decorate the top. As I was slicing the cake, I remembered I had some gum paste sweet peas I put together a couple days ago that surprisingly match my grandmother’s antique cake plates quite well.
makes 2- 8″ round cakes plus 8 muffins
3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla paste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8” round cake pans and line 8 muffin cups.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add in carrots and nuts.
3. Whisk together eggs, olive oil, milk, vanilla, and sugars in a medium bowl. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Transfer 3 1/2 cups of batter to each cake pan and divide the rest among the lined muffin pan.
5. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes and the cupcakes for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes and cupcakes on a wire rack.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Filling
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1. Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and creamy.
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
140 g superfine sugar
60 g egg whites
12 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
230 g powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla paste
caramel to taste (I used Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, but you can easily make your own)
1. Whisk together sugar and egg whites in a small bowl. Heat over a bain-marie and continue to whisk until mixture to hot to the touch.
2. Transfer hot mixture to bowl of stand mixer and whip on medium speed until mixture becomes white in color and has cooled to room temperature.
3. Reduce speed and add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add in the powdered sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla. Increase speed back to medium and beat until mixture is smooth.
4. Add caramel to taste and beat until caramel is fully incorporated.