The BEST Carrot Cake EVER!!

The Best Carrot Cake EVER!In the interest of mixing up the sweet and savory recipes from my Christmas dinner menu, I will save the potato gratin recipe for the next post.  So we are jumping ahead to dessert for today, and ooooooh MAN!  What a dessert it is!  Maybe not exactly the kind of holiday dessert that first comes to mind, but when you have trays of cookies and fudge and candy, something spicy and classic is absolutely perfect.  I should tell you that the pictures here don’t nearly do it justice.  It turns out that the bright color of the cake was difficult to photograph and my light kept changing.  Please know that no matter how good this cake might look, it is ten times better in person.

I seriously don’t even know where to start with this cake.  Do I tell that it is thick and moist and has the best texture?  Will it help you out if I say the blend of spice is perfectly balanced with the sweetness?  Should I mention that the frosting is so good you will want to just fill a bowl with it, grab a spoon, and then sit in the closet so no one will find you and want to eat it too?  All these are good points but what I really wish I could do is just hand you all a piece.  Not being able to physically share food with you is one of the major drawbacks to blogging.  This would just be sooo much easier if I could just hand you a plate with a little sliver of cake and then you would eat it and then your eyes would pop out of your head and I would say, “See?” and you would be like “Wow!  Yeah!  I totally get it now!” and I would smile and be all, like “I told you!” and you would be like “OK enough already.  Can I have another piece?”  I am pretty sure that is how it would go…
The Best Carrot Cake EVER!It is actually my husband that is such a fan of carrot cake and several years ago, I started trying different recipes-because wow, do they vary when it comes to carrot cake-trying to find a really great one that would become our only recipe.  The addition or subtraction of nuts, raisins, coconut etc, is easily enough to swap and experiment with, but it was the balance of spice and sweetness and texture that I couldn’t quite get right.  This cake ended my searching.  I am told by some (I mean you , Mom) that the absence of crushed pineapple is its only flaw.  I personally don’t mind if my carrot cake has it or not, so I don’t miss it here.  But just in case you believe that carrot cake cannot be made without pineapple, I am sorry to disappoint.  That minor adjustment aside, I think you will be happy with it.  And even though cakes can be temperamental sometimes, this one has turned out the same every single time I make it.  I consider it very reliable, making it perfect to serve around the holidays when you don’t want to experiment with something fussy.  It will feed quite a crowd and simply decorated would be stunning at an open house.

The recipe comes from Zoe Francois, a pastry chef/blogger/cookbook author from my home state of Minnesota!  If you want to really impress people, or just develop your skills, she posts video tutorials on how to frost cakes and other dessert related skills.  Very helpful.  You can check out her fantastic blog here.  I took advantage of her expertise and trusted her judgement when she said this was the ultimate carrot cake.  She was right.  Make this cake once and you will toss all your old recipes.  It really is the ultimate.
The Best Carrot Cake EVER!One Year Ago: Hot Chocolate #1

The Best Carrot Cake Ever
Slightly Adapted From Zoe Bakes
If you want to get a jump on things, you can bake the cake layers ahead of time, cool completely, wrap well, and freeze for up to one month.  Just defrost and then frost. 🙂  Feel free to bake this batter up as cupcakes.  That would be awesome for a birthday party or display for the holidays.  It would also be nice on a Saturday…

4 eggs, room temp if possible
1 1/4 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 1/4 c canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange
2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
healthy pinch of salt
1 lb carrots, trimmed, peeled, and grated
1 c walnuts, chopped
1 c raisins

3 blocks (24 oz) cream cheese, softened
8 oz (2 sticks) softened, unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange
5 c powdered sugar

For the cake, mix the first six ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Fold in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins by hand.  Divide the batter evenly between two 9 inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured very well.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then carefully turn out onto cooling racks and let cool completely.  Frost cake.

For the frosting, mix all ingredients together, except sugar, until smooth and mixed well.  Add sugar and mix thoroughly.  This will give you PLENTY of frosting so don’t be skimpy!  Leftover frosting can be frozen until needed for something else!