Many moons ago, before we were even engaged, I made Dave a chocolate carrot cake for his birthday. He loved it – he told me repeatedly how much he loved the cake and I was really, really proud of it. And then I lost the recipe.
With family on the way to visit and no plans for a birthday treat, I started looking for the perfect cake. Googling, Tastespotting, you name it.
And guess what recipe I found.
THE cake. The best cake. This cake is labor intensive, I won’t lie. But it is WORTH. IT. Carrots, chocolate, sour cream, orange zest – yes. This is the one cake to rule them all.
Laura, my sister-in-law, was so kind and helped so much in the kitchen while she was visiting – Dave and I were both so glad to have her help! But I was especially glad, because when it’s Dave’s birthday I need a partner in crime to sneak off to pick up presents, and to keep him from making his own birthday cake. Thanks, Laura!
Here is what you need to make an incredibly amazing cake that you will never forget. This recipe has been very slightly adapted from Maine Food and Lifestyle.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 pound carrots, peeled
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2¼ cups AP flour
- ¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup sour cream
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 and line two 9-inch pie pans with parchment paper. After lining the pans, grease the parchment paper (the spray is definitely easiest for this part).
Grate the carrots using a food processor, and zest the orange into the bowl of the processor as well. Set aside. Laura expertly performed this part of the operation.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until fluffy, and then add the eggs one at a time.
In a bowl or some kind of vessel with a spout, stir the remaining dry ingredients together with a whisk. With the mixer on low and with the splash guard attached, add about half of the dry mixture, followed by the sour cream, followed by the other half. stop when they are just combined.
Fold in the carrots and orange zest, scoop into pans (this batter doesn’t pour ) and level off with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes (use the toothpick test). After 10 or so minutes cooling in the pan, remove and let cool on a rack.
While the cake is baking and/or cooling, make the frosting by melting the butter and chocolate together in a double-boiler (or fake double boiler, as I usually do – heat safe bowl over an inch of water in a saucepan). Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer and with the mixer on low, SLOWLY add the rest of the ingredients and mix until velvety smooth.
When the cakes are totally and completely cooled, put one of the layers on a large plate or cake stand and frost with about 1/4 inch of frosting. Stack the second layer on top. Use as little frosting as possible to level out the gap between the two layers on the sides, and to do a small crumb coat of the top of the cake. Then, do a second layer and make that one smooth and pretty.
This cake was a huge hit, I’m happy to say. The orange zest is such a nice touch. I like to decorate with some toasted nuts.