Cayenne Carrot Cake with Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

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I have a go-to, traditional southern carrot cake recipe that I would stake my life on. It’s moist, has great texture, and has a wonderful balance of flavors. But there are only so many times a girl can make the same recipe in a month! This is the third request I’ve gotten for carrot cake, and I needed to mix things up. So I decided to spice up my favorite recipe. I experimented with a little cayenne, and made a spicy carrot cake with a bourbon maple cream cheese frosting.

Yield: 24 slices

Calories Per Slice: 377

Cake Base:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 1 (12-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp maple bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

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Begin by lining and lightly greasing three nine-inch, round, cake pans. Set the pans aside. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon. Mix in the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla at a medium speed, until fully incorporated. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and walnuts.

Pour the batter in to prepare cupcake trays, filling them 2/3 full. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pans immediately, and cool completely on wire racks.

While the cupcakes cool, prepare both types of frosting. For the cream cheese frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add in the powdered sugar in several installments, adding a splash of cream and bourbon between installments. Add in vanilla and salt last, and beat until fully incorporated. Divide the frosting evenly, and mix the maple syrup into one of the frosting bowls.

Once the cake layers are fully cooled, frost each layer, and decorate as desired. I decided to make a walnut dirt garden, with orange and green gel colored, frosting carrot tops.

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