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March 30, 2009

Chocolate Carrot Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

This dessert combines two classic cakes–chocolate and carrot–into one. It's not as rich or heavy as pure chocolate cake, although the buttery frosting is a nod to chocoholics. In olden days carrots were a staple during winter because they store well in a root cellar.

Chocolate Carrot Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting
Arrows Restaurant, Ogunquit

For the Cake
1 pound carrots, peeled
½ cup packed shredded sweetened coconut
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each one with a circle of parchment paper and grease the parchment.

Using the large holes of a box grater or shredding disk in a food processor, shred the carrots. Measure 4 cups loosely packed and transfer to a large bowl. Mix in the coconut and orange zest and set aside.

With an electric mixer (or by hand using a wire whisk), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary, and mix until again light and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer on the lowest speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and sour cream to the butter mixture in the bowl. Combine the mixture well, scraping the bowl between additions, but do not overmix. With a rubber spatula, fold the carrot mixture into the cake batter.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and tap the pans on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in pans on racks for 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans by inverting each cake onto another rack or cookie sheet. Peel off the parchment and cool right side up. Well wrapped, the cakes will keep at room temperature for up to 1 day.

For the Frosting
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Bring 1 inch water to a simmer in the bottom part of a double boiler. In the top part, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sour cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar until completely smooth. Let the mixture cool until it is of spreading consistency.

To Assemble
Set 1 cake layer on a cardboard cake round or plate. Spread one-third of the frosting on top of the cake. Set the other cake layer on top, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until the frosting is set, at least 1 hour, or for up to 1 day. Cut into 12 slices and serve at room temperature.

Serves 12.

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier are the chef-owners of Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit.

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