Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and Christmas won’t be far behind. As much as I love easy to make desserts that can be ready on a whim, I also love complicated desserts that are sure to impress any guests at first sight and again at first taste.
This Salted Caramel Carrot Cake is that show stopping dessert. Yes, it has a number of steps, but they can be broken up over a few days and it is worth it. So. Worth. It.
One of the reasons it and a lot of my other sweet and savory recipes have improved recently is that I have been using organic eggs. This may seem like a small swap, but not only can I relax about the quality of the eggs, I also genuinely think they taste better. I guess happier hens mean tastier eggs.
I made the switch to organic eggs earlier this year and recently discovered Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. Their animal welfare standards exceed organic regulations, and their hens are free to roam about. Their hens are never given hormones or antibiotics, and their feed is free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, GMOs and animal by-products.
I love these eggs just as much as I love this Salted Caramel Carrot Cake that is definitely the best thing I have made this year and one of the best I have ever made. Yeah, I said it, one of the best things I have EVER made.
The cake is a classic spice cake with tons of carrots, raisins, and pecans mixed in. The eggs aren’t just part of the cake, but they make the frosting extra special too. This isn’t any old cream cheese frosting, it’s Italian buttercream cream cheese frosting. And it is so good, you can practically leave the cake behind.
Because around the holidays enough is never enough and I wanted to make a drip cake, I finished the cake with toasted pecans, salted caramel, and a sprinkle of sea salt. You know I am not a salt lover, but the sea salt really does add something to this cake.
Make sure you check out Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs and make this cake.
- Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 2 8 or 9 inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment, and oil the parchment.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger. In a large bowl, stir together the sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. The fold in the carrots, raisins, and pecans until well distributed.
- Divide evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pans. Cake may be made two days ahead of time, wrapped tightly with plastic, and stored at room temperature.
- When ready to assemble the cake. Make the caramel. In a small saucepot, stir together the sugar and water over medium heat until dissolved. Add the butter and continue to cook, not stirring until a deep amber color is achieved, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Once silky smooth, stir in the salt, pour into a bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature while you make the frosting.
- For the frosting, place the sugar, water, and honey in a small saucepot (I rinsed the one from the caramel and reused it) over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then allow the mixture to cook without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees F. while the sugar cooks, beat the eggs whites in a stand mixer on medium high until foamy. Once foamy add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- When the eggs whites are beaten and the sugar has come to temperature, slow the mixer to medium-low and slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites. Once the syrup has been added, raise the mixer to high and beat for 10 minutes. Then add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been added, transfer the frosting, which will most likely be soupy, to a bowl, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- While the frosting rests, place the cream cheese in the stand mixer (no need to wash the bowl), and beat until lump free. Add the chilled frosting slowly to the cream cheese with the mixer on medium. It should come together and be fluffy and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and assemble the cake.
- Place 1 cake on your serving platter of choice. Top with 1 cup frosting and smooth to cover the entire surface of the cake. Place the other cake on top and use the rest of the frosting to spread over the top and sides of the cake.
- Take the pretty pecan halves and press them gently into the frosting, making rims around the edge of the cake. Spoon the cooled frosting over the top of the cake allowing it to fill in gaps and drip gently down the sides. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Cake adapted from Sugar Hero
Caramel adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are mine. I love organic eggs!