Warning – I’m all over the place today, so bear with me.
I preface a lot of my blog entries, don’t I? Well, here’s another one before I get to this post. I couldn’t take part in this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge because of time constraints due to another obligation – a sort of last-minute obligation, but a good one, which you will all see soon.
However, I’m kind of bummed because the challenge was the classic french cake ‘Fraisier’, hosted by Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes, and I was reeeeaaaally looking forward to making it. I will make one and post it eventually, but until then, please take a few moments to check out the beautiful Fraisier’s created by all the talented Daring Bakers, via clicking on the links to their blogs, HERE.
Since I don’t have a Fraisier to show off *sniff*, I present to you a carrot cake I made a few weeks ago – after I preface once again…
It’s funny how the weirdest things from early childhood stick to your brain eternally. I can still remember the lyrics to every chorus class song between the ages of 8 and 13 yrs old. When I try to impress people by reciting all 50 states in alphabetical order, super fast, it’s because ‘Fifty, Nifty United States’ permeated my fresh, young brain, permanently, not because I was born with this amazing ability to recite the states in alphabetical order on a whim.
These are not real carrots, they are macadamia marzipan carrots and yes, I made them. The carrot fronds are real. I did not make those, just an unfortunate, inedible decoration decision that didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.
When I was maybe 4 or 5, there was a TV interview with Shaun Cassidy (I think it was Shaun Cassidy (???). Apparently it was his birthday, and the host asked what his favorite cake was. He said carrot cake. Ewwww..a cake with carrots in it?? Yuck! I couldn’t believe anyone would eat a cake with vegetables in it!
Several years later, I tasted some for the first time. Oh my Gahh, moist, spicy, sweet, delicious..and the cream cheese frosting..I was in love. I spit bullets when I order a slice of carrot cake and the frosting is buttercream or anything other than cream cheese frosting. I feel the same about red velvet cake, but I’ll get to that another time. My point is, I still think of that interview every time I bite into a slice of carrot cake. No idea what to make of it – especially since I was never a Shaun Cassidy fan.
SO, I had an urge to make carrot cake a few weeks ago. and not just any carrot cake – a carrot cake I’ve been coveting for some time at Epicurious.com (I shall covet thy carrot cake!). I think it’s been in my saved recipe box for at least 5 years. It’s a tropical carrot cake and it contains macadamia nuts instead of the usual walnuts or pecans, and pineapple and coconut. Normally, I don’t flip over cooked pineapple unless it’s doused with sugar and grilled. I have similar feelings about strawberries, but again, I’ll get to that another time.
As always, I digress – this was supposed to be a tropical carrot cake, but the only two things, outside of your basic carrot cake that made it tropical, were, the macadamia nuts, and this luscious sounding coconut – cream cheese frosting, containing cream of coconut. Cream of coconut, not to be confused with coconut cream, is this amazing, thick, glossy sweetened, condensed milk like can of coconut something or other concoction. I really don’t know exactly how it’s made, but I do know I’ve actually eaten it with a spoon right out of the can. It’s sosososo bleepin’ good.
That said, I didn’t want pineapple in this cake and wasn’t feeling most other tropical fruits like mango or papaya. I had an urge for banana, and three, ripe mashed bananas did the trick. I’ve always liked (yes, liked, kind of have to be in the mood for it. so that does not qualify as ‘loved’ to me) banana bread and banana cake, and I was in the mood for it.
The cake and frosting turned out terrific..the cake is superdupercalifragilistic moist with a hint of warm, gingery heat surprising you with each bite, and the frosting, PHENOMENAL, although the heat wave wouldn’t let me get decorative with it (my rosettes keeled – then morphed into lumps). It was hard not to ditch the layer cake deal and tear off hunks of cake to dip in the frosting, but somehow, I managed. However, I broke one of my cardinal rules when it came to decorating it.
I don’t believe in ever putting inedible* things on anything edible, whether it be a plate of food, sweet or savory, a cake..whatever. Not only did I do it, but I OVERDID it.
Carrot fronds jammed into homemade macadamia marzipan (omit coffee) carrots. I got the frond idea from Martha Stewart (I only used orange gel paste). Martha Stewart only puts one small frond in each carrot. I thought a bunch would look cool, especially hanging over the sides of the cake. Once I looked at the photos, after it had already been cut into and attacked with savage, voracious ferocity, I hated it.
Regardless, I wasn’t going to make another one any time soon – we had our fill, so here it is in all it’s greenery glory and 70’s psychedelic orange background. Ignore that and make this cake. It’s worth it.
One final note. Carrot fronds are not inedible, but they don’t taste good (unless they’re from baby carrots), especially with cake.
Adapted from Epicurious
- 2⅓ cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts, toasted
- ¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger *
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon*
- ½ teaspoon fresh, grated or ground nutmeg
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed, with some chunks remaining
- 4½ 8-ounce packages (36 ounce total) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks), plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López or Goya)
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon (scant) pure coconut extract
- Toasted coconut shreds of flakes
- Macadamia marzipan carrots or frosting (tinted orange and green) piped carrots
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1½-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Combine ⅓ cup flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Process until nuts are finely chopped. Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.
- Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in coconut-macadamia mixture, then carrots and mashed bananas.
- Divide batter among pans ( I weighed out close to even layers..about 1 lb 6 oz batter per pan). Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks for 15 minutes, then run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
- Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and both extracts. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
- Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread heaping cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, flat side up. Spread another heaping cup frosting over the top. Top with third cake layer, pressing slightly to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting on top and sides of cake. Chill cake and remaining frosting 30 minutes. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange whole nuts and ginger (or whatever decor you decide on) around top edge of cake. Chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)
**This recipe makes a lot of frosting. I originally developed it to do a basket weave piping around the cake, but changed my mind, so I was left with a lot of frosting, which I used for cupcakes the next day. You can cut the recipe in half and still get a decent amount to fill and frost the cake.
Finally, the winner of the hunka hunk of Grana Padano Riserva cheese, and $40.00 worth of custom goodies from buildasign.com (I thought today was the 27th! So sorry for being a day late!). #93 is Barbara of Barbara Bakes, one of my favorite blogs! Congrats, Barbara! Sending you an email to get your info so the cheese can be mailed out asap, and will send your email to buildasign.com so they can send you your coupon code for $40.00 worth of custom goodies!