For the cake
- 1 c. pistachios
- 1 c. coconut flakes
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled & coarsely grated
- 1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
- 2 t. ground cinnamon
- ½ t. ground nutmeg
- 2 t. baking powder
- 2 t. sea salt
- ¾ t. baking soda
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 c. sugar
- ¾ c. packed brown sugar
- 2 t. pure vanilla extract
- ¾ c. vegetable oil
- 1 c. cool whip
For the frosting
- 16 oz. cream cheese, temp
- ¾ c. (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temp
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 1 ½ t. sea salt
- 2 ½ c. powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two 9’’ diameter cake pans with nonstick spray. Next, toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
- Whisk flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, on high speed, beat eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and stream in the oil gradually.
- Add dry ingredients, in 3 additions, and carrot mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add cool whip, mix until incorporated.
- Fold in pistachios and coconut flakes. Scrape batter into prepared pans.
- Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, about 33-43 minutes.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
Frosting and assembly
- *Whisk together cream cheese and butter on high speed until light and airy, about 3 minutes. Switch to a beater and beat in vanilla and sea salt. On low speed, gradually beat in powdered sugar until silky and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
- Once you have frosted the cake, chill about 30 minutes so the frosting can set.
*I did this in a KitchenAid mixer. If you don’t want to manually whisk the butter and cream cheese by hand, just beat it with a hand-held mixer. It will still turn out nicely, just won’t be as fluffy.
The journey behind this cake
I made this cake by request. I had never made a carrot cake, so I was excited to try something new. This recipe is partly inspired by the Bon Appétit carrot cake, but I made my own modifications. I like pistachios better than walnuts, so I substituted those instead. I threw in coconut flakes, because, why not? I also used sea salt instead of regular salt. It is most noticeable in the frosting, but as a nice compliment to the sweetness. The frosting is not salty at all. I also whisked together the cream cheese and the butter in the frosting for like, 3-4 minutes because I wanted it to be very light and airy, and then switched to a beater for the rest of the ingredients. I also decided to add the cool whip, because I discovered last year (through a baking accident) that adding cool whip to cake makes it super fluffy and moist. In the past, I have usually added the whole container of cool whip but this time I got nervous and played it safe and added a little less, probably around a cup. I didn’t measure it. And I got the extra creamy kind, because, why not?
It turned out really well, and I was pretty happy with it. It got my dad’s stamp of approval. The cake itself isn’t crazy sweet, but the frosting was so. good. that it makes up for the savoriness of the cake. They go really well together. My dad suggests pairing this cake with a cup of coffee. Make this and enjoy!