Carrot Cake with a Twist

*By: Linz Bordner*

Photos: Linz Bordner

Easter is the perfect time for carrot cake. It is also one of the most popular cakes for birthday celebrations. My favorite part, of course, is the luscious cream cheese frosting. This recipe adds a little twist and incorporates melted white chocolate and orange juice into the frosting which makes for an even richer and tangier flavor. With plumped raisins and crunchy walnuts to add texture, you have yourself a great afternoon snack!

Since time wasn’t on my side, I opted to make a sheet cake rather than a layer cake. The sheet cake was much less time consuming, but of course, not as pretty. Either way, it turned out pretty damn delicious!

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 cups cake flour (soft-wheat)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground mace*
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • -4 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups canola oil
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 oz. white chocolate, melted & slightly cooled**
  • Juice of 1 orange, strained
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Position a rack in the middle oven, and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan or two 10-inch round cake pans to make a layer cake.

2. Peel and grate the carrots. You should have about 3 cups. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and mace, onto a sheet of parchment paper or onto a plate. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil, and orange zest. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Stir in the carrots. With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until almost fully incorporated. Add the raisins and nuts and fold to mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).

4. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Watch the time closely at the end so that the cake does not overbake. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If you opt to make a layer cake, place a cake rack on top of the pan(s) and invert them together. Lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely. Cover the cake with a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel so that the outside does not dry out as it cools. If making a 9×13 sheet cake, you can leave the cake in the pan and frost just the top for easy transport to a family picnic or gathering.

5. To make the cream cheese frosting, in a bowl using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until thoroughly mixed. Pour in the melted white chocolate and mix on low speed until fully combined. Beat in the orange juice and vanilla.

6. Transfer the cooled cake to a serving platter. Using an icing spatula, frost with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*Note: Ground mace was a hard find, so I substituted all spice. You could also use nutmeg.

**Melt chocolate using a double broiler or in the microwave. Make sure chocolate cools slightly before adding to the other ingredients, so it doesn’t harden.

Recipe Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.

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