Browned Butter Carrot Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans by spraying the bottoms with non-stick spray, lining with a circle of parchment paper, and then spraying the parchment paper with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter (for the cake) over medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling occasionally, until it turns a nutty golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In another larger bowl, whisk together the grated carrots, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until combined. Add the brown butter and whisk until incorporated. Divide the batter between the cake pans.
Bake a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes. Set the pans on wire racks and cool completely in the pans.
To make the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese and caramel. Beat on medium low for 1-2 minutes until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine 5 cups of the powdered sugar with the meringue powder. Add to the mixing bowl, a cup at a time, mixing on low to combine. Add the vanilla. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy, adding the last cup of powdered sugar, if needed, to reach the desired consistency.
To assemble the cake:
Remove the cooled cakes from the pans and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Level the tops of the cakes with a sharp knife or cake leveler.
Place one layer of cake on a cake plate. Top with just enough frosting to spread it about 1/4 inch thick. Add the second layer of cake, and spread with a 1/4 inch layer of frosting. Top with the third layer of cake, bottom side up so you have a smooth, crumb-free surface for the top. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting all over the top and sides of the cake, then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
When the crumb coat has set, finish frosting the cake, swirling as desired (note, this frosting is not the right consistency for piping flowers or other designs, as it will not hold its shape well; for the rose in the center, I made a small amount of stiff buttercream). Press the chopped pecans against the sides of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve and refrigerate any leftovers. The cake will stay moist and fresh for days, if refrigerated and covered.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen