Ginger Carrot Cake with Pecan Filling

Oh wow, I am in love. I have met my match when it comes to cakes. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for the past year or so and this weekend I decided to try it out. And boy am I glad I did. I will admit, my arm did hurt after a while grating the damn carrots, but the result is worth it. Not only is this cake delicious, but it’s super moist and it’s got pecans and crystallized ginger in it to add extra flavor.. It smells lovely as it bakes. The pecan filling is a must. You have to make the filling for the cake or it’s a bust. The recipe called for toasted coconut to be placed around the cake, but I decided to skip that part because it was almost 9:00 pm Saturday night and the hubby and I were dying to taste it. The next time I make it, I’ll be sure to add the toasted coconut.

Thank you to Michael Recchiuti for sharing his recipe. Here is my adaptation and changes for the recipe.

CAKE INGREDIENTS

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

2 cups granulated sugar

4 extra-large eggs

4 cups grated carrot (about 8 large)

1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

PECAN FILLING

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups pecan, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, toasted

DIRECTIONS

Bake the Cake

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pan

2. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and sugar. Add half of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients into four parts, adding an egg in between each addition.

4. Fold in the pecans, crystallized ginger, and carrots.

5. Pour into the prepared pans, filling the pans 1/2-2/3 of the way high. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Make the Filling

1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually add the cream, stirring until blended.

2. Place the saucepan over low heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter has melted and then let simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm before stirring in nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely until needed.

Make the Frosting

1. Cream the butter with cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla.

2. The frosting must be firm enough to spread without running. Refrigerate to firm as needed.

Assemble the Cake

1. Loosen the cakes from pan and invert on to a plate. OPTIONS: Split each cake into two horizontal layers using a serrated knife to make a 4 layer cake, or leave the cakes alone and make a standard 2-layer cake.

2. Spread the pecan cream filling between the layers of the cakes and then cover top and sides with cream cheese frosting. Finish by pressing the toasted coconut around the side of the cake.

***Make sure to serve the cake at room temperature.

Please excuse my crappy frosting style. Despite how messy the cake looks, it was so delicious. My hubby even said it’s the best carrot cake he’s ever eaten. Yay.

Chocolate Soufflé

On Sunday night, I attempted the art of making a chocolate soufflé. I found a pretty easy recipe to use that makes 2 soufflés. One for me and one for my husband. It was a lot simpler than I thought. My concern was that it wouldn’t rise and to my surprise, when they came out of the oven, they rose. So I did a little victory dance in my kitchen. Unfortunately after a few minutes, the soufflés did deflate, but I read an article online that assured me it was okay for it to do so.

Once I tasted the soufflé though, there was no doubt in my mind that this was a success. The inside was creamy, smooth and the chocolate melted inside your mouth. I will for sure be making this dessert again.

Oh, and I didn’t make a special sauce or anything for the soufflés. The flavors were already spot on that I didn’t find it necessary to add more to it.

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

3 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

2 egg whites

pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)

pinch of cream of tartar (1/8 teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease 2 8 ounce ramekins (I used 7 oz and it worked perfectly fine). Coat the ramekins with cocoa, tapping out the excess

2. In a large bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and remaining butter. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Whisk in the yolks, one at a time, until smooth. Set aside.

***You can easily separate your eggs by hand or by using an egg separator. If you are doing it by hand, crack the egg open over a small bowl (without letting the yolk fall through), and tip the yolk from one half shell to the next until it’s cleared of all egg whites. If you don’t want to do it by hand, use a separator. Egg separators are fairly cheap and work effectively. I got mine from the local hardware store for under $3.

3. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar, salt, and cream of tartar until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Gently fold the egg-white mixture into the chocolate. Spoon into the ramekins – do not overfill, just fill it as close to the top of the ramekin. (NOTE: You can make the soufflés up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

4. Bake until puffed and set. About 20 minutes if you don’t refrigerate. About 25-30 minutes if you refrigerate prior to baking. Serve immediately.

It’s not the best picture, but I got a pic after it deflated.