Thursday, April 9, 2015

Graham cracker carrot cake

You know what is kind of magical? Spring trees in bloom. Colorado is currently lit up by various shades of fluffy pink and white blooms on trees. And then there are the tulips, the daffodils, the irises, and trees budding out. The world is colorful again. It’s lovely. We all could use a little more magic in our days.

We spent last weekend basking in the spring sun. First, we enjoyed many of Colorado’s delicious beers at Avery Brewing’s Strong Ale Fest. Then we spent Easter Sunday with family. I made carrot cake and pastel colored M&M cookies for Easter dinner. Not just any old carrot cake though, graham cracker carrot cake. That’s right ground up cinnamon graham crackers replaced some of the flour in this cake. If you love graham crackers like any self respecting adult should, you will love this cake.

The cake is jam packed with carrots making it super moist. The graham crackers give it an extra little special kick of flavor and then, of course, we have cream cheese frosting. The only kind of frosting in my opinion. For some reason, I have a hard time slathering a cake with all the butter in buttercream frosting, but when it comes to cream cheese, I say the more the merrier. Have your cream cheese enrobed cake and eat it too has always been my credo.

Also, this is a layer cake and we don’t have enough occasions in life to make a layer cake. So while this may be a little late for Easter, make this cake to celebrate spring or Friday. You know there are never enough reasons to celebrate in my book. Also, don't be scared of making a layer cake. I think most people are deterred by making frosting. The key to frosting is well softened, room temperature butter and cream cheese. Use your electric mixer to mix your softened cream cheese and butter with powdered sugar until light and fluffy. You can do it. I promise

Graham cracker carrot layer cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, serves 14-16 people

1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely ground cinnamon graham crackers, use your food processor or blender to make the crumbs
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
10 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs
3 cups peeled and grated carrots, this was about 5 large carrots for me

Cream cheese frosting
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, and eggs until smooth. Stir in carrots. Pour wet ingredients in to the dry and stir with a spatula until flour just disappears. Pour batter evenly into your two cake pans. Bake 18-22 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the cake pan five minutes before removing. Then cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. It’s important that the cakes are completely cool before you frost them.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat again until smooth.

Spread top of one cake with about 1/3 of the frosting. Place the next layer on top. Spread the rest of the frosting over the top and side. My method is to start with the frosting on the top of second layer and spread outward to the sides and over. 

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