There is an entire spectrum of carrots, including red, yellow and purple varieties, each with its own appeal. Sugarsnax carrots are extra-sweet and delicious in this recipe if you can find them at your local farmers' market. Though they are available year-round, carrots are most tender and at their peak from March through October.
The moist but firm texture and haunting vegetal sweetness of this cake reminds me of great wine, and the mayonnaise in the recipe makes it especially moist. I also like the molasses in the frosting; it seems odd but is crazy good. It balances the sweetness from the granulated and light brown sugars with bitterness and sour notes. In a jazz band, molasses would be the smooth bass player every girl crushes on. If you love that as much as I do, proceed immediately.
CARROT, HAZELNUT AND GINGER CAKE
MAKES one 9-by-13-inch rectangular or 8-inch round cake
For the Cake
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup Hellman's olive oil mayonnaise
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup grated fresh peeled ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (from about 1 pound whole carrots)
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
For the Frosting
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan or an 8-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Stir in the carrots. Fold in the hazelnuts and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the Frosting
In a medium bowl, combine the butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and molasses. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy; slather it on the cooled cake.