Sunday, December 21, 2008

Love Dish: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe some of the very best fall/winter desserts are made with some very humble vegetables. After all, who can think of a more season-appropriate dessert than carrot cake? Moist, crumbly, and full of holiday spice, you have to actually make it yourself to believe that a whole pound of healthy, crunchy carrots are in there. And honestly, this version is so perfect on its own, you could almost skip that fluffy, decadent layer of cream cheese frosting on top...almost.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from January 2009 issue of Food and Wine magazine.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Line with parchment paper and butter again.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, milk and vanilla. In your stand mixer (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer) beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients, then beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely.

To make the frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners' sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and continue mixing for another 3 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Peel the parchment paper off each cake. Place one layer, upside down, onto a plate. Spread a rounded cupful of the frosting on the top, then sandwich the second cake on the icing, right side up, . Spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting and refrigerate until chilled, about an hour. Slice and serve.

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