This recipe kicks carrot cake to elegant new heights. Tender layers of carrot-tinted spice cake are sandwiched with a luscious coconut-pecan filling--and it's all covered in swirls of classic cream cheese frosting. It's an event to make (plan for some dish-washing), but well worth the effort. To spread the work over two days, make the carrot puree and start the Coconut-Pecan Fluff Filling on Day 1 and let them chill overnight. Then finish it all off on Day 2.

Source: Midwest Living
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Ingredients

Cake Layers
Coconut-Pecan Fluff Filling
Cream Cheese Frosting

Directions

Cake Layers
  • Begin with cake layers: Place carrots in a large saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any remaining water. Transfer carrots to a food processor or blender; add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Puree until completely smooth. Measure out 1 cup puree. Let cool. (To cool faster, spread puree in a pie plate and place in refrigerator.)

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  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour 3 9-inch cake pans; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and the 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat remaining butter (15 tablespoons) on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl about halfway through. Add all but 2 tablespoons sugar; fluff another 2 minutes, scraping once. Beat in the 4 egg yolks, one at a time. Stop and scrape down sides of the bowl. On low speed, add flour mixture and carrot puree in alternating scoops until the batter glows a smooth pale orange, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer cake batter to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

  • Clean the mixer bowl and use the whisk attachment to beat egg whites foamy; pour in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beat to sturdy peaks, scraping down bowl once or twice. With a rubber spatula, fold whites gently and thoroughly into batter.

  • Divide batter among the 3 prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pans, 10 minutes. Turn each layer out on a rack and let cool completely.

  • Meanwhile, prepare Coconut-Pecan Fluff Filling. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pecans, shaking pan regularly, until nuts darken and give off a lovely scent, about 5 minutes. Watch closely to make sure the nuts don't burn. Let cool.

  • In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter over medium heat. Whisk in dark brown sugar, coconut milk, 4 egg yolks and the 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve into a clean stand-mixer bowl; press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and chill in refrigerator. (To speed chilling, you can place the bowl in an ice bath.) When cool, beat until fluffy in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, about 4 minutes. Fold in toasted pecans.

  • Begin assembling the cake. Set one layer on a platter. Spread evenly with half the filling. Stack with a second cake layer and spread on the remaining fluff. Top with the third layer. Cover cake with plastic wrap (to avoid it drying out), and set aside while preparing frosting.

  • For frosting: In the clean bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 4 cups powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency, adding more sugar to thicken if needed. Spread a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake to seal in crumbs. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Finish frosting the cake, swirling for effect.

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