Sunday, January 24, 2010
Classic Carrot Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting
Janeil's search for the "perfect" carrot cake left us craving carrot cake. So I tried one of her winning recipes. I made the recipe just as it is printed--including the frosting. The cake has a great balance of sugar and spice. The frosting has a pleasant "tang" to it from the cream cheese and a subtle sweetness from the white chocolate. It makes exactly enough for frosting the cake. If you want to decorate the cake, you'll need to make another type of frosting for piping borders (or use fondant/white chocolate clay like I did). I prefer to make carrot cakes a day or two before you plan to serve them--the extra time allows the flavors to blend. This cake is great served cold or at room temperature.
Recipe Source: Rose’s Heavenly Cakes
2 2/3 cups (10 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ cups (10 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
½ cup minus 2 teaspoons (3 ½ ounces) light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cups (9 ½ ounces) canola or safflower oil, at room temperature
4 large eggs (7 ounces), at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups (1 pound) coarsely shredded carrots, firmly packed (I finely shredded them, but measured them by weight not volume)
1 cup (5 ounces) raisins, tossed with 2 teaspoons flour (optional--I used the raisins, but didn't toss them with the flour)
Prepare two 9x2-inch round cake pans by coating bottoms with shortening, top with parchment rounds, then coat with baking spray with flour. Encircle outside of pans with cake strips.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon. Sift the flour mixture unto a large piece of parchment (or use a food processor on pulse to sift and lighten the flour mixture).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute, or until well blended. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed for about 20 seconds, just until incorporated. Add the carrots and half the raisins, if using, and beat for another 12 seconds. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces evenly with a small offset spatula. Each will be just under half full (28 ounces/800 grams). If using them, scatter the remaining raisins evenly on top of the batter in each pan. Use the back of a fork to push them gently into the batter.
Bake the cakes for 45 to 55 minutes (I recommend checking them at 35 minutes), or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cakes should just start to shrink from the sides of the pans.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto wire racks that have been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cakes so that the tops are up. Cool completely.
Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting
Makes 2 ¾ cups (23.6 ounces/670 grams)
9 ounces white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped
12 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool (about 65°F)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool (65°F)
1 ½ tablespoons (0.7 ounce/21 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
Heat the chocolate until almost completely melted. Use a small microwavable bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds (or use the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often—do not let the bottom of the container touch the water).
Remove the white chocolate from the heat and, with the silicone spatula, stir until fully melted. Allow it to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch is still fluid.
In a food processor, process the cream cheese, butter, and crème fraîche for a few seconds until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides. Add the cooled melted white chocolate and pulse it in a few times until it is smoothly incorporated.
Highlights for Success:
• Use white chocolate containing cocoa butter, such as Green & Black’s with vanilla seeds or Valrhona.
• The frosting becomes more firm in the refrigerator.
• For a whiter frosting without the subtle flavor of the white chocolate, you can replace the white chocolate with 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.
To assemble the cake:
Spread a little frosting on a 9-inch cardboard round or a serving plate. Set one cake layer on top. If using the plate, slip a few strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Spread the top of the layer with about ¾ cup of the frosting, stopping almost to the edges. The weight of the upper layer will push the frosting out a little. Set the second layer on top. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. If using the paper strips, slowly slide them out from under the cake.
To decorate, with a silicone spatula, make swirls on the top or, if desired, garnish the top with 1 cup (3.5 ounces) toasted walnut halves, coarsely broken. (I pressed chopped walnut pieces onto the side of the cake, then decorated the cake with a top and bottom border.)