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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chocolate Carrot Cake

Last weekend we went to dinner at a friend's house and I asked, as indifferently as I could manage, if I may please bring dessert. When she answered yes, I went to task to choose and narrow until I found just the thing to try. It came down to S'mores Cheesecake, Coconut Cream Filled Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, and this Chocolate Carrot Cake. I'm sure I'll make the others sometime, but I was just in the mood for this one.

The instructions say to use a 10-inch springform pan. I only had a 9-inch so I made the batter, measured the volume (about 8 cups) and decreased by 1/10 (about 3/4 cup). It was not exact but it worked. The middle was slightly underdone; I was afraid of scorching the edges so I didn't want to push the cooking time. So the center sunk slightly but it also meant that when it was cooled and sliced, the center was super rich and fudgy. No one complained.

The instructions also say to slice the cooled cake horizontally, to make 2 layers, to which I ask, "Then why didn't you just have me make two layers?" I've tried before to horizontally slice cake, and it can be done but it's just asking for trouble. So I froze it for about 20 minutes first but when I started to try slicing, I could tell the cake wouldn't hold up. So I tossed that idea and just frosted it as is, one thick layer. The cake is so rich that you really don't need frosting in the middle.

I'm sorry there are no inside pictures. The problem with a cake is that taking a slice out is noticeable, and I was too self-conscious to take my camera to the dinner party to get a shot. But it was brown, it was tender, moist, rich and very delicious. The flavors are all chocolate and orange, the texture is all carrot cake with the carrots and walnuts. The frosting is super creamy. I didn't have half-and-half, only heavy cream, so I used that. Wow, really amazing. One guy at dinner exclaimed, "This is REAL comfort food!"

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Zest of 1 orange, finely minced
1/2 cup orange juice
2 T cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 to 6 T, or as required, half-and-half

Finishing Touches:
Finely chopped toasted walnuts
Shredded carrots
Mini chocolate chips
Marzipan carrots (store-bought), optional

1. For the cake, preheat oven to 350. Generously spray a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a circle of parchment paper. Place pan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

2. In a mixer bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar. Blend in eggs, vanilla, melted chocolate, orange zest, and orange juice, scraping bowl often to ensure nothing gets stuck in the well of the bowl. Fold in cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Then fold in carrots, chocolate chips, and walnuts and stir to make a smooth batter. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake until cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertip, about 50 to 60 minutes.

4. For frosting, cream the cream cheese and stir in the melted chocolate, butter, confectioners' sugar, and half-and-half to create a soft frosting. Whip frosting on medium speed of mixer 1 to 2 minutes to increase volume.

5. If you are highly confident, split cooled cake horizontally. Frost bottom generously an docver with top. If middle is sunk or you're annoyed with this extra step, don't attempt the split. Either way, frost sides and top and garnish with walnuts, carrots, chocolate chips, shaved chocolate, or whatever.

Recipe from a little booklet called Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate! by Marcy Goldman


kat said...

that cake turned out beautifully.

jeans said...

any tips for finely shredding your carrots? do you do this by hand or in a processor?

Disco Mom said...

I do it in a processor - time may be the same considering extra clean-up for a processor, but the risk of grating my own fingertips is greatly reduced. Plus the noise sends the kids out of the kitchen, an added bonus.

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