brazilian carrot cake

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funny how a change in weather can affect the perception of time. I first had this brazilian carrot cake at a friend’s place back when the weather was still warm enough that I was comfortably in short sleeves late at night. we’re now fully into sweater season and already, my leather jackets, which I never feel like I get to wear enough, have been hung up in favor of wool-blended coats, puffy jackets, and faux fur-lined boots.

anyways, I am a huge carrot cake fan – I used to tell people it was my favorite cake, though really, I love just about all cakes and really can’t choose. some days are chocolate cake days, others call for a good slice of carrot cake, you know? I think unconsciously, because I knew the amount of sugar I was consuming was probably unhealthy, I thought carrot cakes were “healthier” because they featured a vegetable and often contained raisins and nuts.

brazilian carrot cake is a totally different animal. when my friend, e, told us she was serving carrot cake, I was expecting a moist, almost treacly cake stuffed with shredded carrots. instead, we were treated to a light, smooth cake where the sweet, slightly earthy flavor of carrot took center stage. stunned that this light orange-colored cake could share the same name as the carrot cake of my childhood, I asked e for the recipe and she was kind enough to share it with me.

now that it’s cold and all I want to do is wear chunky socks and sweaters that swallow my body, slurp up bowls of hot udon, and stand in front of my oven while baking cakes (it’s so warm!), I suppose it’ll be good to have this “healthier” cake in rotation – covered in chocolate ganache, of course.

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makes one 9•13-in pan

carrot cake
270g (~3 medium) raw carrots, chopped*
215g (1 cup) granulated sugar
150g (3/4 cup) canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
chocolate ganache**
60g (1/3 cup) bittersweet (60%) chocolate, chopped
25g (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
25g (1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp) corn syrup (not high-fructose)
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
28g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
chocolate sprinkles, sliced almonds, or desiccated coconut (optional)

recipe courtesy of my friend e, with a few tweaks and adapted to a 9×13-in pan

cake|1 preheat oven to 375ºF. lightly grease a 9×13-in pan and line with parchment paper.
2 in a blender, blitz together carrots and sugar until carrots have broken down and completely mixed with the sugar. add the oil and eggs and blitz again, pulsing blender until ingredients are just combined (2-3 pulses).
3 in a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. add carrot mixture to bowl and fold with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined (being careful not to over-mix).
4 bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. let cool in pan for 30 minutes, then remove cake to wire rack to cool completely.
ganache|1 after cake has cooled, start making glaze: place chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. add sugar and corn syrup to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. stir to combine, then when the sugar has melted, increase heat the medium and bring to a boil. continue to boil, stirring gently from time to time, until color is pale amber (~7 minutes).
2 remove from heat and carefully pour in water. (if mixture seizes, return pan to heat and stir gently and continuously until it returns to boil and sugar has melted again.) stir in vanilla extract.
3 remove from heat and wait for 1 minute before pouring water-caramel over chocolate. allow to stand for 3 minutes, then whisk to combine. add butter, a few cubes at a time, whisking after each addition. continue until all butter has been added, whisking until mixture has consistency of honey.
4 poke a few holes in the cake, then spread glaze over top of cake, letting a little run down the sides. cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

* carrots do not have to be peeled, but they should be cleaned; if you’re baking by volume, there should be ~2 cups after chopping them.
**the chocolate ganache recipe makes just barely enough to cover the cake with a thin layer; if you want to generously cover the cake, double the recipe.

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