PECAN BOURBON CARROT CAKE
Chock full of bourbon-soaked raisins and studded with toasty pecans, this mile-high belle is sure to seduce even the pickiest of dinner guests. While it takes time to prepare the ingredients, there’s nothing complicated about putting it together. You simply blend the dry ingredients; beat the liquids, then stir them all together along with the good-for-you carrots, nuts and raisins.
- 4 cups (1 L) grated carrot
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) golden raisins
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) bourbon, rum or orange juice
- 2 cups (500 mL) coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
- 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
- 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
- 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) cinnamon
- 1 tsp (5 mL) nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) allspice
- 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
- CREAM CHEESE ICING
- 2 pkgs (250 g each) regular cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp (25 mL) bourbon, rum or orange juice
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) sifted icing sugar
- Whole pecan halves
1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray or oil three 9-inch (1.5-L) round cake pans.
2 Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 4 cups (1 L) and set aside. Plump up raisins by placing in a small microwave bowl and adding bourbon. Microwave on high 1½ minutes, stirring partway through. Bourbon should just start to boil. Set aside and stir occasionally. Chop nuts and toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, stirring partway through. Place flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Stir to blend, then make a well in the centre.
3 Combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape into well in flour mixture and stir with a spoon or spatula just until even in colour. Stir in carrots, followed by raisins and bourbon that hasn’t been absorbed. Sprinkle with nuts and just mix in. It will be very thick.
4 Divide batter between pans, adding about 2¼ cups (550 mL) to each. Spread evenly to pan sides. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centres seem set when lightly tapped, from 30 to 35 minutes. Remove to a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.
5 Cut cream cheese into chunks. Place butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very creamy. Add bourbon and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in cream cheese, piece by piece. Beating too much will cause thinning. Add about a third of the icing sugar and beat on low until just mixed in. Scrape sides of bowl and beaters occasionally. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating just until smooth. If too thin, work in a little more sugar. Can be refrigerated for about an hour before using.
6 To assemble, place a cake, top-side down, on a platter. Lay the other 2, top-side up, on waxed paper. Brush with bourbon if you like. Spoon an equal amount of frosting on each. Spread over cakes, leaving a narrow border of cake around edge of cake on platter and on 1 other cake. Spread frosting right to the edge of the third cake. Stack cakes, placing the fully covered layer on top. Garnish with whole pecan halves. It’s best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.