It’s not that I fancy myself a carrot cake expert by any means. I just know a darn good carrot cake when I taste one and this is the best I’ve ever had. I owe a big thanks to Paradise Valley resident Michael Garrett for sending in this “gotta have” version of one of America’s favorite desserts.
What makes this recipe so unique? Well, its incredibly moist texture is a result of a couple of fantastic ideas.
First, Michael soaks the golden raisins in Grand Marnier, so you get a flavor burst with each bite. Although you can’t taste it, there is crushed pineapple in this recipe, which adds to the moistness. Finally, Michael’s tip for freezing the cake right out of the oven instantly stops the cooking process. Overcooking, of course, can sometimes cause cake to end up a little dry. (The second time I made the cake I didn’t freeze it. Michael’s right. Freezing it makes it much better. I follow this procedure now for all of my cakes and cupcakes.) Also, the recipe calls for toasting the chopped walnuts and the shredded coconut. The result is a much more complex and memorable flavor profile in every bite. The icing? In a word, extraordinary.
As Michael wrote, “First, I worked on perfecting the cake. Then I worked on the frosting. Usually I don’t like lots of powdered sugar in a frosting, but this is nice and creamy, and I love the tartness created by adding the lemon juice.”
In fact, this frosting has the most gorgeous, lustrous, almost iridescent, sheen to it!
Way to go, Michael. All of your hours in the kitchen really paid off. This one is 2-“carrot” gold!
If dad loves a carrot cake, this is the one to make for Father’s Day!
Moist Carrot Cake
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 small can (or 1 cup) crushed pine-apple, not drained
2 cups shredded carrots (2 large car-rots)
1 cup golden raisins, marinated for
several hours or overnight in 1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liquor
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup coconut, toasted until golden brown
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Soak raisins in liquor. Toast coconut in dry skillet on medium high heat until golden brown. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour batter into a 9 inch by 13 inch greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes up clean. When done, place cake on a cutting board and put in freezer to stop the cooking process. Keep in freezer for 30 minutes. When chilled, frost cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
4 teaspoons butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix until well incorporated. Note: Keep cake refrigerated.