First things first.
A tremendous congratulations to my beautiful sister and her doting husband in the birth of their perfect baby boy. I love you and cannot wait to meet the newest member of the fam! It's surreal. There were baby showers and doctor appointments, but it still has not sunk in. The joy in my heart cannot be expressed. All I can say is I love you Susana, Joe, and Landon.
Okay, quickly let's change subjects because I'm getting misty eyed.
Bunny rabbits. They are onto something....
That orange vegetable that's good for your eye balls.
Carrots make beautiful cakes. When you grate them, the flakes are moist, super light, and soft... almost like coconut flakes but not dried and sweetened. Yes, it takes forever to grate the carrots but the result is a fluffy dream. Spice it how you like- nice and mellow or singing with cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins. The skies the limit! It has all the spice you'll find in a spice cake.
Now the batter itself is not overly sweet so the cream cheese frosting is a must! I cannot imagine carrot cake with any other kind of frosting! Chocolate? Negative. Vanilla- eh maybe. If you know a cool frosting for carrot cake- please share!
This is the second carrot cake recipe that I have made; the first was by Alton Brown. I must admit, I prefer Alton's. No- that's not a bias... though I do love his recipes something fierce.
The key differences can be found in the ingredients. I like that his version uses yogurt instead of pure oil (other recipes use crushed pineapple bits) and the addition of brown sugar. The flavors are similar, but his was definitely more moist.
However... use Smitten's cream cheese! The maple syrup addition is heavenly. Slip some in when you make your frosting.
Also. Now this is sheer opinion so don't get buck.
Carrot cakes are best served as cakes. Cupcakes and these little square guys are cute and all but it's not the same as a slice of carrot cake. In larger form, the cake can hold onto more of its natural moisture. These square guys were soft but they lacked the fall apart deliciousness of a big slab of cake. So if you make carrot cake- make a single layered cake.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them.
Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each or into desired cake pans.
For cupcakes, bake 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack.
To make a carrot layer cake: Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans instead of cupcake molds. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off waxed paper; cool cakes completely.
Let cool completely before icing them.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
To assemble a carrot layer cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.