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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake tastes better after it has been refrigerated overnight. I love the tropical spin on the traditional carrot cake. I got this recipe from epicurious.com, and made some alterations.

2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (see note below on how to make this)
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
2 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained

2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco L├│pez, found in the liquor section of store)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (scant) coconut extract
14 whole dry-roasted macadamia nuts (optional)
2 cups coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Combine 1/3 cup flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Process until nuts are finely chopped. Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in coconut-macadamia mixture, then carrots and crushed pineapple. (Note: if you don't like the texture of pineapple, like me, then add it to the coconut-madamia mixture before blending)

Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:

Toast coconut in melted butter for a few minutes until crispy.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and both extracts. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes. (don't chill too long!)

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, flat side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Top with third cake layer, rounded side up, pressing slightly to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange coconut and then whole nuts on top of cake. Chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Note:  To make crystallized ginger, thinly slice 1 cup fresh ginger. Boil in 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar for 5 minutes. Then bake in 200 degree oven until rubbery but not dry. Then sprinkle with sugar.

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