Brown Butter Pecan Carrot Cake

This version of carrot cake is dense and dark with a nutty base provided by brown butter and toasted pecans.

Notes:

  • If you don't feel like peeling carrots, use about 20 ounces baby carrots.
  • Use a stainless steel, nonstick skillet to brown the butter—a dark-bottomed skillet will make it difficult to see the butter as its color begins to change.
  • Brown butter may be made one day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.
  • To toast the nuts: Arrange pecans in single layer on baking sheet. Bake in center rack in preheated 350°F oven until fragrant and golden, 7 to 10 minutes, shaking pan halfway through baking to redistribute pecans. Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack and cool pecans completely before chopping.
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Brown Butter Pecan Carrot Cake

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 12
Active time:1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time:4 hours, 30 minutes
Special equipment:13- by 9-inch baking pan, large stainless steel skillet, food processor, electric mixer, rubber spatula, cooling rack
This recipe appears in: Let Them Eat: Brown Butter Pecan Carrot Cake
Rated:

Ingredients

  • For the Cake:
  • Baking spray
  • 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 to 8 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1 inch pieces (See Notes)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped (See Notes)
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  •  
  • For the Icing:
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Procedures

  1. 1

    For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with baking spray.

  2. 2

    In large stainless steel skillet (See Notes), melt butter over medium heat. Cook butter, swirling pan occasionally, until it begins to foam. As the foam settles, brown bits of butter will begin to settle at the bottom of the pan; the process will take 12 to 15 minutes.

  3. 3

    Immediately pour brown butter into a large bowl. Stir in orange juice, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Transfer bowl to refrigerator and chill until butter is solid, at least 1 hour (See Notes).

  4. 4

    Meanwhile, pulse carrots in food processor until completely shredded: measure out 3 cups.

  5. 5

    Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and pecans in medium bowl; set aside.

  6. 6

    Beat cooled and set brown butter mixture, brown sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

  7. 7

    Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with carrots. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

  8. 8

    Scrape batter into prepared baking pan. Bake until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

  9. 9

    Transfer to cooling rack and cool cake completely in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

  10. 10

    For the Icing: Using whisk attachment, whip cream cheese, sour cream, butter, honey, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  11. 11

    Reduce speed to low, add confectioners’ sugar, and whip until incorporated, scraping bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed, 30 to 60 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to whip until frosting is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

  12. 12

    Spread icing over cooled cake. Serve.

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