Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Silly Rabbit, Carrots are for kids.

I must say I used to loathe carrots. They looked like an accidental creation...weird shape, covered in dirt, tasted like dirt, but somehow wasn't dirt. Every time I eat a meal I hear my mom's voice in the back of my mind..."make sure you get some, take some carrot sticks." Well I guess her persistence finally paid off...believe it or not, I now like carrots. I enjoy carrots frequently as a mid afternoon snack with hummus, or ranch dressing, or plain. I must say though, the absolute best way to enjoy carrots is baked into a cake. : )

My mother loves 2 kinds of cake. Carrot and German Chocolate. For years I have been researching and testing out new recipes to find one that will satisfy her picky taste. I am proud to say I finally found a winner! My mom turned 29 again this past yeah...and I made this cake with the hopes of baking her the most perfect carrot cake I could. This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe with a few changes of my own. I nixed the pineapple on top, added 1 cup of coconut to the batter, used pecans instead of walnuts, omitted the raisins, and made it into 3- 8" round pans. The pineapple and the carrots make this cake so incredibly moist and delicious. I prefer cold carrot cake, so I like to chill my cake in the fridge for at least 12 hours before eating it...if it can last that long without someone eating it! The thing that really makes this cake awesome is the icing. Sometimes I find cream cheese icing to be too sweet, so sweet that it actually hurts my teeth. This icing is a nice blend of butter and cream cheese and yields a much lighter and delicate sweetness. In the future I hope to make the icing with 1/2 marscapone cheese and see what happens. Also, I think that banana bread or zucchini bread made into cake rounds would also be wicked good layered up with this icing. Without further ado...

Oh, and I realize I have been posting a lot of dessert recipes...which is truly my forte, but I promise to post more of my savory culinary recipes in the near future! FYI - This cake would be an awesome end to your upcoming Easter feasts!

Carrot Cake El Yummy

For the cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided, and sifted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh...or canned crushed pineapple

For the frosting:

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 cup finely chopped pecans...I pulsed mine in the food processor.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 3 (8-inch) round cake pans.

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the coconut and pecans with 1 tablespoon flour, mix into batter. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. DO NOT OVER MIX! Divide the batter equally between the 3 pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla with electric mixer until combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Repeat. Repeat. Cover sides with icing...then carefully press crushed pecans onto the sides only. Chill. Eat. Share only if you want people to love you! p.s. This picture is before I had a chance to clean up the it is a bit rustic and messy looking, but you get the idea : )

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