Carrot cake is one of those “every season” desserts. Its spiced cake is reminiscent of Fall and Winter, but the brightness of carrots adds that freshness we crave for the warmer months. Almost everyone seems to have a different carrot cake recipe, and as far as cakes go, it’s decently foolproof. I’ve added a couple of extra spices to my typical recipe that has elevated it from common to exceptional.
Acknowledging calories is completely optional.
Don’t let the lengthy title of this recipe deter you. Rehydrating raisins in spiced rum is easier than making homemade champagne gummy bears (although for future use, just as easy), and the cream cheese vanilla bean frosting is one you could use for a myriad of recipes.
Instead of my typical layered carrot cake that I make, this time I wanted to make a sheet-pan cake and cut out mini cakes from it so that each person would have their own cake post Easter dinner.
The end result, while leaving me with more cake than anticipated (don’t throw it away, it would make a great carrot cake-pop!), was a spongey, moist, spice filled, bits of heaven in every bite. The sharpness of the peppercorn was mellowed out by the vanilla bean in the cream cheese buttercream and then you get the explosion of flavor from the drunken golden raisins and it’s complete sensory and delicious overload.
Okay, maybe not delicious overload, because I don’t think that’s a concept that has yet been reached by the human species, but this will excite every one of your taste buds and cause you to rethink your average carrot cake!
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon fresh coarsely ground peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons clove powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 9 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups canola oil
- 3 cups of peeled and grated carrots
- 1 tablespoon of room temperature unsalted butter for greasing the pans
- 1 cup of golden raisins
- 1 cup of spiced rum or bourbon
- 16 ounces full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 sticks of unstalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups powdered confectioners sugar sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
One. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease one 18 inch by 13 inch sheet cake pans with butter, and line bottoms with parchment paper.
Two. In a small bowl, combine golden raisins with your spiced rum (or bourbon) and let them re-hydrate for up to an hour.
Three. In a bowl, sift the flower, baking powder, and baking soda together. Then mix in pepper, clove, cardamom, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Four. In an electric mixer (or hand mixer circa the 90s like I have) on medium speed, whip the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running, add the oil slowly to maintain the emulsion.
Five. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and mix on medium for another 3 minutes. Once combined, add carrots and drained drunken raisins and mix until combined.
Six. Pour the cake batter into the greased sheet-pan and bake for 20-25minutes or until golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean after being inserted into the middle. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then remove carefully and let sit on the cooling rack until completely cool.
Seven. For the cream cheese icing: In an electric mixer with paddle attachment (read also my 90s hand mixer with whip attachments), beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. Add in vanilla bean paste then gradually add confectioners sugar until combined.
Eight. Using a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter, cut the cooled cake into circles and then lay circles on another sheet pan with a wire rack. Set this pan in the fridge to make sure there is no warmth remaining in the cake at all.
Nine. Transfer the prepared frosting into a piping bag and cut the tip off. Pull the cooled cakes from the fridge and starting from the inside, pipe a spiral shape until the top is entirely covered. Garnish with pecans.
This spicy take on a classic recipe really freshens up your perspective of traditional carrot cake. It has been well enjoyed by my family for Easter. . I’m thankfully privy to a group of people who would love to volunteer as R&D for said recipe.