I may or may not have been too busy/lazy/tired to update this blog for the past month. To be honest, there has not been much in the way of inventive cooking going on, either. Apparently, my will to cook (or to put in any effort beyond keeping up basic hygiene) has been zapped by the evil overlord known as Library & Information Science Grad School.
When I say I've been lazy, I mean that I've intended to put up this post since the end of September. Which is when Husband's birthday was. And, here it is, the beginning of November. So pathetic, Heather. So pathetic.
In any case, let's start out by announcing the Pasta Alley Giveaway winner (who has already received her prize--I'm not THAT awful): Jen at The 3 Little Piglets! Jen received three bags of Chive & Onion pasta, as well as 1 bag of Rosemary Champagne pasta. While the contest was ongoing, I shot an email to Pasta Alley to let them know how awesome they are. I was very surprised when the owner, Jeremy Maupin, donated all four bags. How generous is that?? I was floored. So, in case you needed another reason to purchase delicious pasta from an organization that employs developmentally disabled individuals, there it is. Please give this wonderful business your hard earned money in exchange for a little dough (see what I did there?).
On to the cake.
Have you ever thought, "Gosh. I would really like to make carrot cake, but you know, it's just not fatty enough for me. I like my cake with a side of guaranteed heart attack, and carrot cake is just not delivering"?
I have the carrot cake for you.
Mile-High Carrot Cake (from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats)
-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 tablespoons 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 1/2 cups raisins (optional)
-1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
-4 (8 oz) packages Neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperate
-2 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons heaving whipping cream
-1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
-1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons salt
1. 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. Chop up when cool.
2. 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).
3. 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.
4. 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 Hefty Servings
Verdict: I find cake making inexplicably frustrating. They are just so much work. They don't SEEM like they would be, right? But they are. And frosting them? ...infinitely worse. I remembered why I don't make complicated cakes when I made this cake. Despite parchment papering the bottom and hosing the pan and paper down with cooking spray, parts of the cake still stuck to the pan. That meant that I had chunks of cake missing that I had to try to fill in with frosting. The cakes took much longer to bake than indicated, and were very suddenly in danger of burning. This recipe has so much sugar involved that the tops caramelized, which is what made burning quickly a real possibility. Fortunately, none did....however, the caramelized tops made it impossible to level the cake layers. So, it was a vaguely....tower of pisa-ish cake. The tops were also problematic, because despite the fact that there is a metric ton of frosting in general, there was just not enough to mask the hardness that kept poking through.
NOW. All complaining aside: Was it good? YES. Did we eat way too much? YES. Did we have to give away at least 1/4 of this cake so we didn't end up in the hospital? YES. Should you make it. YES.