Celebrate Easter with my spin on the classic Carrot Cake topped with a hearty Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting!
It’s 4:15 pm on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) and I’m parked in front of my computer typing this. Also on my desk is a vase of elegant white roses and vibrant violet chrysanthemums, thriving on a concoction of sugar, vinegar and water; and an empty dessert plate – the remnant of my rendezvous with this rich Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. The cake was intended for the family’s Easter menu, but what can I say, except, I couldn’t resist?
Every year around Easter, social media is flooded with drool-inducing pictures of the classic Carrot Cake, while tonnes of recipes for the same make it to blogs and websites. This year I thought I’d join the bandwagon. Except, nothing about this cake is ordinary or classic. It is a bit out there, I admit, but divine all the same! 😉
Here’s what you need:
For the Carrot Cake:
- Sugar – 1 & 1/2 cup
- Vegetable Oil – 3/4 cup
- Whole Milk – 1/4 cup
- Greek Yogurt – 1/4 cup
- Eggs – 3, large
- Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
- All Purpose Flour – 2 & 1/4 cup
- Ground Cinnamon – 1 tsp
- Ground Cardamom – 1/4 tsp
- Baking Powder- 2 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Pecans – 1 cup, chopped
- Carrots – 2 and 1/2 cups, grated
For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Cream Cheese – 360 g, cold
- Icing Sugar – 1 & 3/4 cups
- Unsalted Butter – 115 g, cold and cubed
- Heavy Whipping Cream – 2 tbsp
Here’s how you make this showstopper:
- Make the batter: In a large bowl beat sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, milk and Greek yogurt until light yellow, about 2 minutes. Sift in the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder and salt; slowly fold into the wet ingredients to avoid spillage. Beat the batter for 2 minutes on medium speed, then add the vanilla extract and give it a good mix. Tip in the grated carrots and the chopped pecans and mix well with a spatula.
- Bake the cake: Preheat your oven to 170 °C/ 350 °F. Grease and line a 9-inch round cake tin with parchment paper. Pour in the batter, even out the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon and tap the cake tin lightly on the kitchen counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Pop the cake into the oven and bake it for about 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. When done, take the cake out of the oven and leave it out on the counter to cool completely.
- Brown the butter: In a heavy bottom pot placed on medium heat, melt the cold butter. Once the butter melts completely, bring it to a bubbling boil. At this point there will be a lot of frothing, stir occasionally. While stirring, watch the colour of the butter. Allow it to turn a light amber. You’ll see brown bits swimming in the butter; this is a good sign, it means your butter is close to being browned perfectly. Let the butter boil for about another 30 seconds, or until it attains a deep caramel hue and emits the most wonderful nutty aroma. Take it off the heat immediately and leave to cool on the counter for 20 minutes. As it cools, the butter will get thicker. To quicken the process, place the brown butter in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or until the texture is similar to that of room-temperature butter. Take it out and leave it on the counter while you prep for the frosting.
- Make the frosting: Using a hand/stand mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Sift in the icing sugar, half a cup at a time and beat well between each addition. Add in the brown butter and heavy whipping cream and beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is well incorporated and the frosting is fluffy and of piping consistency.
- Assemble the cake: Place your cooled cake on a cake stand, or cake serving plate. Top with dollops of Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and roughly swoosh it around with an offset spatula to cover the top of the cake. Drizzle with crushed pecans and the cake’s ready to serve!
If I am to sum up this carrot cake in two words, they are ‘Pleasurably Spiced’. Not spicy, but oozing with the heat of cinnamon and the grandeur of cardamom. My inspiration for the spices in this carrot cake stemmed from my hesitation in using a vegetable in a cake coupled with my love for the lavish Indian Gajar-ka-halwa – a pudding of grated carrots cooked in oodles of clarified butter and milk, dotted with cashews and plump raisins and scented with cardamom. It is a dessert I made often as a teen – and mighty well at that! 😛
The cake, while dense, is moist, bespeckled with grated carrots that seep the sponge with their sweetness. The addition of chopped pecans make for a textural breath of fresh air, and bring the slightest splash of bitterness that stops the cake just short of being cloying.
And the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting gets its own paragraph! Creamy and glossy and oh-so-fluffy, the flavours in this frosting will bring you to your knees in adoration! (holy references 😛) Beautiful, with little browned butter freckles swimming in it, it is sweet, tangy, nutty with earthy caramel-y undernotes and all kinds of sublime. I imagine it to be the kind of frosting the domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson would snack on, right out of the bowl, in the middle of the night. It is THAT good! ❤
Since I love cupcakes, I divided the batter to bake an 8-inch cake and a few Carrot Cupcakes to pile high with frosting! I baked them for 15 minutes at 170°C and voila, you have gorgeous cupcakes that kids and adults alike will love!
So, here I am, sharing my recipe for this Carrot Cake in time for Easter, hoping you’ll choose it from the cartloads of carrot cake recipes available on the internet. It is unique and wonderful and will not disappoint, I promise you. Here’s wishing you and yours a blessed Holy Weekend and a very Happy Easter! ❤
For regular updates on what’s happening in The Foodscape kitchen, follow me on Instagram at @thefoodscape! You’ll love all the deliciousness there, I promise! ❤