Best Carrot Cake EVER.
Seriously. This is probably the best carrot cake I have ever had. When we were home for the holidays over Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law had made a wonderful carrot cake for us. It was the first time I had eaten a carrot cake with pineapple in it, and I thought the flavor was wonderful. I had been meaning to get the recipe from her, when I came across this version from The Pastry Queen. It sounded very similar, but with the addition of macadamia nuts, so I thought I would give it a try. Wow! I was not disappointed to say the least. My friends and family will tell you that I just could not stop talking about this cake!
The only problem I had with this cake was that I did not have enough frosting to frost the whole cake. I had enough to frost each layer, including the top, but not enough for the sides (and I don't tend to frost my cakes too heavily). I'm guessing that Rebecca frosts these very very lightly; otherwise, I have no idea how she could make that amount of frosting go such a long way. So, as I see it, you have 3 options with this cake:
- Keep the frosting recipe as is and make your frosting layers extremely thin, and frost the entire cake.
- Keep the frosting recipe as is, frost your layers more moderately, and leave the sides of the cake bare.
- Increase the frosting recipe by one-third, frost the layers more moderately, and frost the entire cake.
This cake is super moist and loaded with carrots, pineapple, coconut, and macadamia nuts. The frosting is creamy and the addition of the coconut cream really gives it a nice flavor and some depth. Do not substitute coconut milk for the coconut cream. Coconut cream is much thicker than coconut milk and contains less water. It can usually be found in the international foods aisle at larger grocery stores (or at Asian Supermarkets). You can, however, get coconut cream from coconut milk, but it will take a lot of coconut milk. Simply refrigerate your coconut milk. You'll notice that it separates - you want the thick, non-liquid part at the top - that's coconut cream. (For this recipe, you'll need 3 cans of coconut milk to yield the amount of coconut cream needed.)
Rebecca says that if you're feeling "energetic," you can decorate the top of the cake with leftover frosting. Not having any leftover frosting with which to decorate the cake, I decided to add some toasted coconut around the edges to jazz up the otherwise plain white cake.
The only change I would make to this next time would be to chop the macadamia nuts before adding them. It was a little awkward biting into such a soft cake and hitting these big pieces of nuts. And if you don't like macadamia nuts, then just leave them out. The cake would still be great without them.
You must try this cake. I promise you will not be disappointed!
Oh, and here's the "tidbit" I promised. Here are some step by step instructions on how you can easily make rounds to line your cake pans. This recipe instructs you to line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, and instead of tracing a circle around the bottom of the pan and then cutting it out, I'm going to show you this neat trick from Alton Brown which is much easier!
First, tear out a piece of parchment paper that is a little bit larger than the diameter of your cake pan.
Then take the top right corner and fold it down towards the left edge, making a triangle. There will be a little bit of excess along the bottom, don't worry about it.
Next take the top left corner of the triangle and fold it down towards the bottom right corner, creating another triangle.
Now fold your triangle in half width-wise.
Fold the triangle in half again.
Lastly, flip your cake pan over and place the tip of the triangle at the center of the pan. Cut the parchment paper where it hits the edge of the cake pan.
Unfold the parchment paper and voila! You have a circle that fits perfectly within your cake pan!
Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
from The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather
1 cup macadamia nuts (I recommend chopping these up or crushing them)
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
4 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
1-1/2 cups shredded peeled carrots
1-1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple or drained crush canned pineapple (this is one 20 oz. can)
1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperate (I used 4 packages of 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 2 cups)
1/4 cup heaving whipping cream (I used 1/4 cup + 4 tsp)
1/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez (I used 1/4 cup + 4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp)
To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden and aromatic. Set aside to cool.
Place one oven rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker's Joy).
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and nuts in a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, oil, carrots, pineapple, and cream of coconut. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set 2 layers on one rack and the third on the other. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cakes are done when they are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert them onto the racks and cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes.
To Make the Frosting:
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 1 minute. Add the whipping cream, cream of coconut, and salt; beat until combined.
Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer, spread thickly with frosting, and top with the third layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. If you're feeling energetic and there is frosting left over, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to pipe a decoration around the top rim of the cake.
The cake can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 4 days. Let it cool in the refrigerator about 1 hour before covering, to ensure the frosting has hardened and will not stick to the plastic wrap.
Yield: 12-14 Servings.