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.

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

If you’re in the mood for Thai food, this dish is for you. Your kitchen will smell good during and after the cooking. This dish is even better the next day if you have leftovers. I have made this dish several times in the past year. I found it to be very easy to do. The best part of the recipe is the spice rub for the chicken.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS for SPICE RUB

1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric

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1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs (you can use chicken breasts, but thighs are more flavorful)

1 cup chopped red onion

5 gloves of garlic, minced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

2 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (minus 2 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons corn starch

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small bowl, mix together dry spices for rub (salt to turmeric) and set aside.

2. Rinse chicken, pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Put into a bowl and sprinkle the spice mix over all the pieces. Coat well and let sit for 30 minutes at room temp or in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high (M-H) heat. Add the onions and jalapenos and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Remove this mixture from the pan into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Use the same skillet for next step.

4. Add 1 tbsp olive oil into skillet on M-H heat. Add half of the the chicken pieces, spreading them out on the pan so they are not crowded. Brown on sides until cooked through. Remove from pan and add the chicken to the bowl with the onion mixture. Repeat this step with second half of the chicken.

5. In same skillet, add the coconut milk (minus a couple tablespoons). In a small bowl, mix two teaspoons of corn starch with 2 tbsp of reserved coconut milk to dissolve the corn starch. Add the corn starch mixture to the skillet with coconut milk. Cook on M-H heat and stir till thick and bubbly. Mix in worcestershire sauce. Add chicken mixture and basil. Cook 2 minutes more to cook through.

6. Serve over jasmine rice and enjoy!