Carrot Cake with Spiced Frosting and Salted Pecans

Browned Butter Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Buttercream and Salted Pecans

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (5-8 carrots, depending on their size)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

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 vanilla.  Beat on medium low for 1-2 minutes until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add to the mixing bowl, a cup at a time, mixing on low to combine.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy.

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; there will probably be a little leftover frosting, which you can freeze for another project
In a food processor, pulse the pecans and the salt until ground somewhat fine.  Press against the sides of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve, but let it come to room temperature for about an hour before serving;  refrigerate any leftovers.  The cake will stay moist and fresh for days, if refrigerated and covered.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen