Saturday, 25 April 2015

The BEST Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting!

I am going to kick this off by confessing that I'm not really a fan of carrot cake! If you have followed my blog for a while now, you will know that it's just a bit too healthy for my tastebuds! and I would just always choose nutella or oreo or a triple layer chocolate fudge cake over carrot cake! In fact growing up, I used to ask my mom to make it from time to time but that was really only because I wanted the cream cheese frosting from on top! So when Baking Mad got in touch offering me this beautiful hamper of Nielsen-Massey goodies and asked me to pick a recipe I wanted to bake, I chose their carrot cake recipe but purely because it was followed by 'with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting' and oh man I couldn't pass that frosting up!! I am also already a huge fan of Nielsen-Massey's products - their vanilla extract is the only one I will use so it was super exciting to have all these products turn up on my doorstep! 

I am in LOVE with vanilla bean paste! Seriously! If I could only take 5 baking ingredients to a desert island this would be right up there as my number 2, because Nutella first - obvs! I discovered the amazingness of vanilla bean paste back in 2010 when I wanted to make these root beer float cupcakes.  I came across a frosting described as melted vanilla ice cream tasting...and thought that would be a perfect addition to turn my root beer cupcakes into a float! The secret ingredient to make that dreamy creamy melted vanilla ice cream flavour frosting was, you guessed it, vanilla bean paste! Back then I'm pretty sure you could only get it online or in select Waitrose stores so it definitely wasn't as readily available as it is now.  It was as sacred to me as liquid gold when I eventually got my hands on it! and I've never looked back! and trust me after tasting some of this vanilla bean cream cheese frosting, you will never want to make regular cream cheese frosting again!!

This was also the fanciest carrot cake I've ever come across before! Crushed pineapple? check, toasted pecans? check! pistachios? check! and it was also my first time baking with golden caster and golden icing sugar - which I was excited about! The whole cake just seemed so healthy and nutritious that as beautiful as the batter looked (which is why I had to snap the pic below - I'm not usually a fan of mixing bowl shots, but look at all that colour!) I had already made up my mind that I probably wasn't going to love the taste...and would be reaching for a brownie or two instead ;)

It was sometime before midnight that I finished the cake, after keeping my husband company on a dissertation writing session! I photographed it and was about to put it away and head to bed, but the smell and aroma coming from the cake was irresistible! and that vanilla bean cream cheese frosting was calling my name! I knew I'd never be able to sleep if I didn't try a taste of this cake! So I cut a slither, and oh my goodness it was one of the best cakes I've ever tasted! I was chastising myself for my earlier lack of faith in it's tastiness! So considering I wouldn't call myself a carrot cake fan, this cake definitely converted me! and how did I forget to tell you about brushing those warm baked cakes with an amazing lemon sugar syrup mixture?! Oh man! That was genius! and definitely helped the cake to be extra moist and extra fruity! so after my initial slither, I of course cut myself an enormous piece! and devoured it all the way to husband was shaking his head at me, but seriously this cake could not wait til morning!!

I also loved how vibrant the pistachios were on top of the frosting! It is such an inviting and enticing cake! and I've been passing the recipe along to everyone I've been speaking to this week because it is just too good! If you're looking to wow with your baking, then this one is definitely for you!!

Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting:
Serves 12
From Baking Mad

for the cake:
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g unrefined golden caster sugar, I used Billington's
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract
250g self raising wholemeal flour
150g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
75g tinned pineapple, roughly chopped
1 lemon (zest only)
1 tsp mixed spice
100g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
50g pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

for the sugar syrup:
50g unrefined light muscovado sugar
1 lemon (juice only)
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract

for the frosting:
75g unsalted butter, softened
450g unrefined golden icing sugar, I used Billington's
180g cream cheese
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste

50g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease and line 2x20cm sandwich tins with parchment paper.

In a bowl with a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Gradually pour in the eggs and the vanilla extract, then add the flour and continue to mix for a minute.  Fold in the carrot, pineapple zest, mixed spice and nuts.

Divide the cake mixture equally between the two tins and flatten with a spatula.  Bake on the middle shelf and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the centre of the cakes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon and vanilla sugar syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice together for a few minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and then add the vanilla.  Turn both cakes out onto a wire rack and brush the tops of the warm cakes with the syrup.  Allow to cool while you make the frosting.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla bean paste together into the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the icing sugar and continue to mix until you achieve a spreading consistency.

Sit one of the sponges on a plate or stand, and spread with half of the frosting.  Place the second sponge on top, and cover with the remaining frosting.  Decorated with chopped pistachios.

Eat and enjoy!

I received the Nielsen-Massey products complimentary from Baking Mad, but all views and opinions expressed are my own.


  1. I'll confess with you as well that I've never been a fan of carrot cake. I do love Neilsen Massey vanilla products. I've got a 1litere bottle of it that I've almost used up, and am desperately searching for another one. Lucky you with all those vanilla products! Happy Baking!!! :-)

  2. This cake sounds all kinds of awesome, I don't blame you for cutting yourself a huge slice before bed. That's the kind of thing I do, haha! I also agree that Neilsen Massey's vanilla bean paste is like nectar from the gods. I discovered it early last year and I don't think I can turn back.... it's so good!

  3. I'm with you! I adore vanilla bean paste too and yes.... I would have gone for making the cake with the cream cheese frosting. The cake looks and sounds divine! What a great goody box!

  4. Love the idea of the pistachios with carrot cake, looks like a mouthwatering cake.

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me



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