It’s almost Mardi Gras! Or Easter! Or something. I’m not really sure what Fat Tuesday is. Lent? All I know is I should have procured a tiny plastic baby to bake inside one of these cupcakes. Next year.
SPEAKING of New Orleans(ish), Tom and I are going to The Big Easy in a couple weeks for our an engagement shower for our friends Emily and Wes! I’m so excited, mostly because I’ve only been to “Nawlins” once and I was too young to drink and/or appreciate beignets. There will be lots of eating and subsequent blog posts, rest assured.
Anyway, as previously mentioned, Tom hates cake with the exception of carrot cake. I think it’s the cream cheese icing but I don’t ask questions, I just go with it. I’ve been making different carrot cakes for years now trying to perfect my recipe and I think I’ve finally got it right. It’s so exciting to make a once-tested recipe for the second time and have it turn out as good as you remember.
I’ve made this cake in a couple of forms – it works just as well as a layer cake (although I’d double the ingredients for an extra-tall, impressive cake) and cupcakes. I tend to use a jumbo muffin tin when making cupcakes which means you only get half as many and you have to make your own cupcake liners out of parchment paper but hey, sacrifices. If you think you don’t like carrot cake or have just never had carrot cake worth remembering, try this recipe. You. Won’t. Be. Disappointed.
(THE BEST) CARROT CAKE
makes 12 jumbo cupcakes
18-22 regular cupcakes
one large sheet cake
or a 2-tier round layer cake
For the Cake:
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts and/or pecans
For the frosting:
1/3 cup butter, softened (room temp. for at least 2 hours)
8 oz cream cheese, softened (leave out with butter)
2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*optional: 1 cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your cake pans or, if you’re making cupcakes, put in cupcake liners or make them out of squares of parchment paper. In a large bowl or mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, white sugar, brown sugar, pineapple, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and blend until combined.
2. Once blended, stir in the carrots and nuts. Pour the cake into the prepared pan or cupcake tin and bake. A large cake or round pans will take about 40-45 minutes. Small cupcakes will take about 15-20 minutes and jumbo cupcakes take about 20-25 minutes. Watch carefully and remove from the oven as soon as a knife inserted in the center comes out clean – careful not to overbake! Allow to cool for at last 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. For the frosting, use a stand mixer or a hand mixer and beat the butter, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. Keep beating until the mixture is very smooth then fold in the nuts if you want to use them. Sometimes I reserve half the frosting without nuts and use that to frost the outside of the cake and use the with-nuts frosting for the inner layers. Sometimes I sprinkle them on top. Do what you want. Go nuts. (Sorry.)
Be sure not to try to frost the cake before it’s 100% cooled. Cheese + butter + warm cake = a hot mess, in every sense of the phrase.