Carrot Cake for My Gram

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My kids and I recently came back from our trip to California. While I was there, I used an entire 5 pound bag of flour…yeah, I went a little overboard spoiling my parents and my Grandma during those two short weeks 😉 I was glad to, and honored to cook with my 85 year old grandmother – the one who inspired me to cook in the first place. While it was a lot of time and effort to make so much for them, I was flattered to hear that my Gram actually learned from me!! and my Dad said my cinnamon rolls reminded him of his mother’s 🙂

Because Gram’s birthday happened the week after we flew in, I told her I would bake her a birthday cake. She couldn’t eat chocolate (huge bummer), but she loved carrot cake. Problem for this baker was that I have never made one, let alone eaten a piece in over 10 years!! Thankfully, a quick search at Pinterest led me to find this recipe that sounded tasty – kind of flimsy evidence to go on, but I went with it. I didn’t try any of it because of my Whole 30 craziness, but the family really enjoyed it and said it wasn’t too sweet and the frosting was perfect. That sounds like a win to me! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Carrot Cake – adapted from Sprinkle Some Sugar

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar (or dark)
  • 5 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 7-8 carrots)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Directions –

For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom of two 9″ round baking pans with parchment paper and lightly grease and flour sides. Be sure to get every inch! Set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clover all together and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar together. Add in the eggs one at a time, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Pour in flour mixture and mix until just combined making sure everything is well mixed. Fold in the grated carrots by hand with a rubber spatula or spoon. Batter will be thick, this is okay. If you are adding pecans or raisins, do so now.
Distribute the batter evenly into both pans. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Start checking cake at 25 and check every 2 minutes after that. Once a toothpick comes out clean, cakes are done. Let them cool on wire rack or counter for 20 minutes. Flip pans over and cakes should pop right out onto wire rack or parchment or wax paper lined counter. Let them cool completely. While they are cooling, mix up the frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy and light in color. Add in the vanilla and mix until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time on low until combined. Whip frosting for another minute or so until smooth and creamy.
Once cakes are completely cooled, cut the domed tops off so they are completely flat and even. Place one cake on the bottom of a cake stand, facing up. Spread some frosting on top until completely covered. Add second cake, bottom up, and frost the rest of the cake. I found it much easier to do one thin layer of frosting, set it in the fridge and as it firmed up a bit, add another thick layer – the frosting looks much more even this way. This cake is even more moist and flavorful the second day once the flavors have all settled in with each other.
Store cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Snicker’s Cake

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When it comes to making a cake (especially the three layer, super involved kind), I need a good excuse to make one. My husband on the other hand would have liked me to make this because it was a Monday – no real reason and no company to help us eat it. I know better! The last thing we need is a giant cake all to ourselves,  not to mention how selfish that would be 😉

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I have used this particular chocolate cake recipe many times before, so I knew it would be really good. Also, for quality control sake, I had to taste the fluff and salted caramel I made – so I knew those were also really good. This is definitely not a cake I would have wanted to make in one day because of all the components; also, it’s much easier to work with when the cake layers have been frozen. On Friday, I made the salted caramel and the chocolate cake – let the cake cool completely, wrapped them up individually in plastic and then placed them in the freezer. I made the fluff on Sunday, stored it in a glass container and let it sit on my counter. Monday I made the nougat and I decided to reduce the amount of peanuts added; but other than that modification, I made it as directed. Also, I totally forgot to add the salted caramel to the top of the nougat filling – boo! I figured no one would care especially once i poured ganache and more caramel sauce over the top 😉

Verdict: This cake tastes as good as it looks – maybe even better. All the guests at our Labor Day party really enjoyed it and we only have about 1/4 of it left! 🙂  I’m glad that all that work I put into it paid off, and I’m sure I will get requests for it in the future 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Snickers Cake – adapted from Punky Purls via Brown Eyed Baker

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups AP flour (312 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (*I used grapeseed oil)
  • 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Nougat Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups marshmallow fluff
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup salted caramel sauce
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

For the Assembly & Garnish:

Directions –

1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Make the Nougat Filling: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.

6. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it’s not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

7. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.

8. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.

9. Garnish the Cake: Transfer the ganache to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. To finish garnishing, drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped peanuts. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

This week my parents came to visit, so I pulled out all the stops! But this wasn’t just to create a more memorable visit, it was mostly to celebrate our little girl’s fifth birthday. We forgot to pick up candles and I meant to put rainbow sprinkles on this, but she assured me that it was “okay”. Thankfully the lack of these items didn’t take away from the flavor and richness of this cake.

This was my first ever homemade icing and it was so easy, thanks to my trusty KitchenAid standing mixer. It is a messy process sifting all those six cups of powdered sugar, but it was worth it. Next time I will be more generous with the frosting between the layers, but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough to frost the “outside”. Once the cake was frosted, I put it in the fridge to set up. Oh, and don’t mind the wax paper – that was meant to keep the cake plate cleaner but I forgot to remove them before the rest in the fridge. Overall, this cake was really worth the effort and not at all difficult. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

** This became a “triple layer” cake because I only have 9″ cake pans**

The recipe below is for 2 10-inch layers filled and coated in chocolate ganache. My adaptations were to split the layers to create a four-layer cake and use raspberry filling instead of chocolate. To do the same, use half the frosting and all of the raspberry filling, recipe at the end.

For cake layers

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature

Quick Chocolate Buttercream – adapted from Williams-Sonoma

  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions –

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 6 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low. Add the chocolate and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.

If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.