In my mind, there is some intrinsic connection between Bourbon and Autumn and Carrot Cake. Perhaps it’s that bourbon equals football; football equals autumn and autumn equals the spiciness of carrot cake? Add that all up and you either get one of the most delicious autumn desserts, or a peek into the wackiness that constitutes the workings of my brain, or both.
This particular carrot cake is chock full of deliciousness, from the raisins plumped with the bourbon, to the nuttiness of the walnuts, to the fluffy sweetness of the cream cheese coating. It screams Autumn louder than Neyland Stadium filled to capacity with rabid fans…and it’s orange and white, to boot.
I’ve adapted a recipe I found years ago in Country Living magazine to omit oil and add butter instead, as well as a few other gentle tweaks.
The way I do takes a bit of forethought, since I soak the raisins for a full day. This allows them to completely fill with the bourbon/cider molasses. If you’re impatient, you can shorten that and just let the raisins soak for a couple of hours. Trust me, though, it’s worth the wait.
It’s also worth the addition of the apple cider molasses (apple cider syrup or boiled apple cider). The sweetness that this adds to the raisins and to the carrot garnish is just divine.
This carrot cake is simply delicious…it’s definitely special occasion worthy and would be a great addition to Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts.
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 1 cup golden raisins
- ½ cup Bourbon
- 3 tablespoons apple cider molasses (optional)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 4 large eggs
- 8 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
- 1½ cups walnuts, ground
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2-8 ounces packages cream cheese
- 6 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- FOR THE CAKE:
- In small bowl, combine raisins, bourbon and cider molasses.
- Cover and set aside for 2 hours, preferably a full day.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans.
- In medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves; set aside.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed, until creamed.
- Add the eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl between each addition.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour mixture just until combined. Do not over-beat.
- Drain raisins, reserving the bourbon/cider liquid.
- With rubber spatula, fold in 3 cups carrots, the raisins, and 1 cup walnuts.
- Divide batter evenly between pans.
- Bake cake layers 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.
- Invert cakes onto wire racks and remove pan; cool cakes.
- In small saucepan, combine reserved bourbon/cider and remaining carrots.
- Cook over high heat 2 to 3 minutes or just until carrots soften and most of bourbon evaporates.
- Set aside to cool completely.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, on medium speed, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Slowly beat in confectioners' sugar until well combined.
- To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer on serving plate and spread one-fourth of frosting over top.
- Repeat with the second layer.
- Place third layer evenly on top of the other two.
- Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting.
- Sprinkle bourbon-carrot shreds on top and bottom edges of the frosted cake. Sprinkle reserved ½ cup of walnuts around inside edge of the carrots on the cake top.