For the sponge:
3 large free-range eggs
175g caster sugar
200ml sunflower oil
250g finely grated carrots (about 5 medium)
200g plain flour
3tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
125g walnut pieces or chopped pecans
For the filling and topping:
100g unsalted butter, very soft
100g good-quality cream cheese
½tsp vanilla essence
300g icing sugar, sifted
5tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2tbsp walnut pieces or chopped pecans to decorate
2 x 20.5cm sandwich tins, greased and base-lined
Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4).
Put the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a food mixer and beat, with the whisk attachment, until very light and frothy. Gradually beat in the oil. Using a large metal spoon, stir in the carrots.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into the bowl and stir in. Once thoroughly combined mix in the nuts.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tins, dividing it evenly. Bake in the heated oven for 25 mins or until firm to the touch.
Turn out the sponges on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the filling and topping: put the soft butter, cream cheese, vanilla, icing sugar and cocoa into the bowl of a food mixer and beat, on low speed, until very smooth and creamy.
Use about half to sandwich the sponges, then spread the rest on top. Scatter over the nuts.
Tips for making chocolate carrot cake:
Be sure to use full-fat cream cheese frosting rather than lower fat alternatives. Reduced and low-fat cream cheese always contains more liquid and stabilisers which will mix with the sugar and turn runny.
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