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I Love Chocolate

by Stephanie Zonis

 

Carrot Cake with
White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

8 to 10 servings

 

"Here comes Peter Cottontail, Hoppin' down the Bunny Trail..."--Easter's on its way, all right, as it falls very early in April this year. Here is a treat for Mr. Cottontail and anyone else who appreciates a moist, lightly spiced cake filled with carrots and pineapple. Carrots for the cake should be finely shredded; I use a grater with holes just over 1/8" in diameter. The chocolate here is contained in the tangy, not-too-sweet frosting, and the sides of the cake are covered in toasted walnuts. Please be sure you use real white chocolate in the frosting, by the way; to check, look at the ingredient list--real white chocolate will have cocoa butter as one of the first couple of ingredients. The frosting never entirely sets up, as does a classic confectioners' sugar buttercream, but it does harden somewhat. Note that the frosting must chill for a while during preparation.

This cake must be kept in the refrigerator, and it will keep there nicely for a few days if stored airtight. While the cake layers themselves may be frozen, the frosting will not freeze. Most people find this homemade-looking cake very appealing. Happy Easter!

 

Carrot Cake:
1 can (8 ozs.) crushed pineapple in unsweetened pineapple juice
2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred with a fork before measuring
2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/8 tsp. salt
2-1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (5 to 7 carrots, washed, dried, and peeled)
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups corn oil
4 eggs, graded "large"
1 tsp. vanilla

White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 ozs. real white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
16 ozs. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Garnish:
1 generous cup medium-fine chopped walnuts
     (alternatively, use almonds or pecans)

 

For Cake:
Adjust rack to center of oven. Grease two 9" round, heavy layer-cake pans, at least 1-1/2" deep. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper cut to fit. Grease paper. Dust inside of both pans lightly with flour, knocking out any excess. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain pineapple for at least 15 minutes in strainer set over a bowl (bottom of strainer should hang above juice that drains into bowl). Stir a few times to encourage draining. Cover lightly with plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

Into medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

Finely shred carrots. When shredded, combine with well-drained pineapple (discard juice), and stir to blend the two thoroughly.

In large bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With hand-held electric mixer, beat 1-1/2 minutes at medium speed. Add sifted dry ingredients; beat in at low speed just until combined. By hand, gently stir in carrot-pineapple mixture until evenly blended.

Divide evenly among prepared pans. Run batter slightly higher along sides of pans (it won't cooperate very nicely here--just do the best you can). Place in preheated oven.

Bake 32 to 42 minutes, or just until toothpick inserted in center emerges with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Layers will dome in center somewhat and become quite brown on top. Switch oven positions of pans and rotate pans back-to-front about halfway during baking. Do not overbake.

Remove to cooling racks. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes (tops will flatten out during this time). Loosen cakes from sides of pans; invert onto cooling racks and gently peel wax paper from bottoms of layers. Re-invert and cool completely, right side up, before frosting.

For Frosting:
Place chopped white chocolate in small heatproof bowl. In small saucepan over low heat, heat cream until very hot, stirring occasionally. Pour hot cream over white chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk until melted and smooth. If necessary, place bowl over hot water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl), and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and hot water. Allow to cool to room temperature. Note: white chocolate is sometimes very stubborn about melting; if you cannot get yours completely melted and smooth, you may have to process it briefly at high speed in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

This frosting may be made with a stand mixer (preferably fitted with a whisk beater) or a powerful, hand-held electric mixer. Make sure the cream cheese and butter are very soft but not melted, then beat together at medium speed in a large bowl (or the small bowl of a stand mixer) until perfectly smooth and very well-blended. At a low speed, beat in the cooled white chocolate mixture, again beating until smooth. Gradually incorporate the confectioners' sugar at a low speed, then scrape bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula. Beat frosting at high speed just until fluffy. Remove from mixer (if stand mixer was used) but do not wash beater(s). Frosting will be rather thin at this stage.

Chill frosting and beater(s). You'll need to beat the frosting up occasionally; make sure you scrape the bowl and beater(s) with a rubber spatula before and after doing so, and beat the frosting each time on high speed only until fluffy. Chill and beat frosting until it is of a good spreading consistency (that usually takes me about 1-1/2 hours).

While frosting chills, prepare Garnish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a shallow pan with aluminum foil. Place the chopped walnuts in a single layer in the foil-lined pan; toast in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 11 minutes, or just until very fragrant and lightly golden. Watch carefully, and stir more frequently toward the end of the toasting time. Cool completely before using.

When frosting is of a good spreading consistency, place one cooled cake layer upside down on serving plate, anchoring it with a dab of frosting in the middle. Frost what is now the top of this layer generously. Place second layer on top, right side up. Frost sides of cake, then top (this is a generous amount of frosting).

To decorate, place the cake on a decorating turntable if you have one (I don't). Take up a small handful of the cooled, toasted, chopped walnuts; hold your hand out and spread the nuts up along your fingers. Press the nuts gently into the sides of the frosted cake. Somewill fall off--OK; you can always put them back. Repeat this process to cover the sides of the cake. Chill until frosting has hardened somewhat (a couple of hours), then cover airtight. Store in refrigerator.

 

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Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You may: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your computer for your own personal use only; and reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.

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This page created March 1999


 


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