carrot cake w/ cream cheese filling & white chocolate ganache
cake & filling adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

cook notes: If you like nuts in your cake, stir 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter along with the carrots. Raisins are also a good addition; 1 cup can be added along with the carrots. If you add both nuts and raisins, the cake will need an additional 10 to 12 minutes in the oven.

carrot cake
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 ts baking powder
1 ts baking soda
1 1/4 ts ground cinnamon
1/2 ts ground nutmeg
1/8 ts ground cloves
1/2 ts table salt
1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil , or canola oil

cream cheese filling (I halved all this as I only needed it for the filling)
8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
5 TB unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 TB sour cream
1/2 ts vanilla extract (I did not add this in)
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (I sifted mine)
(I added in a large pinch of salt)
(I added in a handful of toasted coconut to this and chopped/toasted pecans)

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment. (I did two regular cake pans)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
In food processor fitted with large shredding disk (see below for mixer method), shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

For the frosting (See below for mixer method): When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and salt in clean food processor workbowl until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add SIFTED confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Then add in the toasted coconut and chopped pecans and stir.

Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cakes onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.) (So, I spread frosting in between the two cakes nice and thick since I was going to put a white chocolate ganache on the top. Do what you like at this point use the frosting all over or just in the middle. There was a good amount of frosting left over, so I just went ahead and froze the rest)

MIXER METHOD
Instead of Step 3 above, follow these directions: Shred carrots using large holes of box grater (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

Instead of Step 4 above, follow these directions: When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment ( or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

Once the cakes were frosted in the middle I went ahead and let it chill in the fridge while I made the white chocolate Ganache and made some toasted coconut.

You can toast about ½ cup of moist coconut in the over at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until JUST brown. Set aside.

white chocolate ganache

a small saucepan or double boiler
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
1-2 TB butter

Melt white chocolate, heavy cream, and extract over a double boiler. Do not boil. You need to stir this A LOT. It will take a long time before it gets to a thick consistency.
Now if you want a little bit of shine to your Ganache add some butter into it just after you take it off the heat. When it’s melted then add butter and take off heat immediately. Stir to combine butter completely. Keep stirring. And stirring. I like to let my Ganache sit a bit before using; the longer it sits the thicker it gets.

assemble
Take the cake out of the fridge and gently pour on the white chocolate ganache. It should flow freely on it’s own or you can give it a little help with a wet spatula. This ganache is a lot thicker and slower to spread then it’s dark chocolate brother. So be patient with it and see how it flows. While the ganache is still at the soft stage make sure to add the toasted coconut on top before it hardens--optional of course.

Let ganache set up before slicing into it. When you are ready to slice into it, make sure to use a very sharp knife as this Ganache is thick and harder to cut.