Carrot Pineapple Spice & Brownie Layer Cake with Whipped Cream & Cream Cheese Frosting and Marzipan Carrots. Also a recap of the 18 Reasons DIY Dessert Cake event

by Irvin on March 26, 2012 · 33 comments

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Carrot & Brownie Layer Cake with Whipped Cream & Cream Cheese Frosting by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

At the end of last year, I received from a lovely holiday gift of Martha’s Entertaining, A Year of Celebration from the publisher, signed by Martha herself. Lush and gorgeous (as you would only expect from a Martha Stewart book) I immediately flipped through it and found a number of exquisite recipes that I knew I wanted to attempt…when the proper time presented itself. Mostly because none of the recipes in the book seem to be the sort of thing that you would whip up on a whim, rather most of them seem rather elaborate, with plenty of timing required. So I tucked the book on my groaning shelf with the other elaborate “one-of-these-days” books nestled tightly between the French Laundry Cookbook, Boulevard, NOMA and Eleven Madison Park. Then a couple of weeks ago, I realized I had the perfect opportunity to take that book off the shelf, the 18 Reasons DIY Dessert event that I co-host with my friend Melanie. The theme was cakes, so I pulled out Ms. Stewart’s book and opened it to her Spring Garden Cake, and immediately thought to myself, I gotta simplify this recipe. Taking inspiration from that cake, I created a Carrot Pineapple Spice & Brownie Layer Cake with Whipped Cream & Cream Cheese Frosting and Marzipan Carrots.

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Making marzipan carrots. Strangely satisfying and tedious at the same time.

Now here’s the thing. I normally don’t make highly decorated cakes like this. I don’t play with fondant or gum paste, I don’t sculpt with marzipan and food coloring and I don’t try to make my cakes look all super cutesy. But every now and then I want to play a little. I want to experiment and try something different. Of course, Martha’s original cake has a full garden of marzipan cabbage, rhubarb, lettuce, radishes, and of course carrots. I’m slightly crazy when it comes to my baking, but I’m not that crazy. I needed to simplify. Because when Martha Stewart warns you in a recipe that “this will take some time to do” you better kiss your weekend goodbye.

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The originally recipe, of course, feeds 50 to 60 people and there was no way I was going to make a cake that huge. In the end, I used my own recipes for the carrot cake layers as well as the frosting since I wanted to stick with a traditional cream cheese frosting and not an Italian buttercream as she had suggested. Pretty much the only thing that stayed the same was the marizpan decorations. Definitely easier than the original recipe, but definitely a little more work than my usual cakes. Which is saying something as I KNOW that my recipes are usually pretty complex.

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The 18 Reasons event was a smashing success. This was the first time in the new 18 Reasons location, with a new time, on a Sunday afternoon. Turns out Sunday afternoon is the perfect time for hanging out and eating desserts. There were at least a dozen cakes there, along with a packed house full of people eating cake and hanging out.

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My co-host Melanie showed up with an awesome Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Topping (hello Mascarpone, you are my friend). Sam & Rose came with a stunning Blood Orange Upside Down cake made in a cast iron skillet. The glistening blood oranges just made me (and everyone else) want to dive right in. And a former pastry chef arrived with a Mississippi Mud Cake with Creamsicle Ganache Frosting that had everyone swooning for seconds.

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Jack and Sophie showed up with two poppy seed cheesecakes that were rich and light at the same time (how do they do that?). The cinnamon nut loaf that was pure comfort food. DIY Dessert regular Joe brought Pain D’Espices, a spice cake with dried fruit, nuts and star anise that kind of made me wish we were serving tea or coffee. I could totally curl up in a corner with a cookbook, a slice of it, and a hot beverage and be content for hours.

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Fellow food blogger Brian of Tummy Morsels overcame his social anxiety and much cake tribulations to triumph with his lemon infused cake layered lemon curd and strawberry jam filling and topped with Swiss meringue buttercream. I think I might have had a second slice, but don’t tell anyone. I felt positively healthy cutting a slice of the oatmeal snack cake with coconut topping for myself. Or maybe it’s all relative compared to the other cakes.  There was a lumberjack cake with dates and coconut inspired by a dessert at Frances and a  moist and fantastic banana bread by Ben.

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Of course, I think one of my favorite cakes there totally summed up the event. A simple buttermilk cake with vanilla glaze, it seemed elegant on it’s much coveted green cake platter. Simple and tasty, I couldn’t help by take another slice of it, I realized that this was DIY Desserts is all about. Bakers and food lovers all together, socializing and hanging out, eating desserts, both elaborate and down home. I can’t wait for the next one. Hope to see some of you guys there!

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18 Reasons will be hosting the next DIY Desserts on Sunday, June 3rd. The theme will be PIES so mark your calendars and come prepared to eat and socialize!

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Special thanks goes to Clarkson Potter Publishing and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. for providing me a copy of Martha’s Entertaining, a Year of Celebration. Though the book was provided by them, I was not compensated for anything I wrote above and all opinions are my own.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda @zomppa March 26, 2012 at 6:02 am

That is an AWESOME cake/brownie…gorgeously decorated, but also a perfect combination!

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Steph March 26, 2012 at 9:26 am

Irvin– I love that you stuffed a brownie inside of a cake. :D

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Irvin March 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

You know me, I love to mix my flavors together… ;)

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The Suzzzz March 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

It is a beautiful and whimsical cake and it looks and sounds delicious…carrot cake should ALWAYS have cream cheese frosting. You make me wish I had more time to bake, especially on rainy days trapped at work like today.

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Ryan March 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I love the marzipan process photo. The DIY Desserts event looks like a great time. I wanted to come, but was otherwise occupied attempting to deftly board,rather than tumble down, a mountain. Pie is much more in my wheelhouse than cake, so I hope I can make the next one!

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Irvin March 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

Hope to see you at the pie one then!

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Brian @ A Thought For Food March 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I go back and forth between wanting to live near you and wanting to be as far away from you as possible, because I have no doubt that I’d gain a bazillion pounds if we lived nearby. You do the most wonderful events and this cake is just fabulous… but, I’m a sucker for anything carrot cake.

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Irvin March 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

Dude. If ANYONE I know in the food blogging world can use a few more pounds, that would be you Brian. Come back out to SF and we’ll cook/bake up a storm together!

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Melissa @ Best Friends For Frosting March 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

You’re amazing. You definitely just put this dessert on the map.

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Elva @ Gluten Free March 27, 2012 at 2:58 am

Ahhha, Beautiful pics. That’s why i m obsessed of you :)

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thelittleloaf March 27, 2012 at 5:20 am

Amazing. That looks like one seriously cake-filled event. They all sound delicious but I think maybe this one wins the prize…absolutely epic :-)

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myfudo March 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

Worth the read…Beautiful pictures, perfect recipes…Nice to learn ideas. This is a fun-filled post indeed. =)

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Hannah March 28, 2012 at 8:42 am

This looks delicious. What an interesting flavor combo!

Xx

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Julia March 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Remarkable cake!
Carrot and chocolate aren’t the most obvious flavor combo, but it’s one I love and am always happy to see others embrace it too.

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Nik S March 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

I love, love your blog and photographs. The carrot cake looks beautiful and this is indeed a fun post!

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Kim Bee March 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

Irvin I am one of your quiet, shy fans. I learned at a recent food conference I need to come out of my shell more and be more confident. So I’m finally leaving a comment. I tend to shy away from commenting on the big blogs, yes I just called you a big blog. I adore your sense of fun and only wish we had events such as this near me. I live in a culinary black hole. Your carrot cake is gorgeous and I can only imagine the time and patience it took to make. So well worth it as the end result is perfection. Brownie in a carrot cake is a truly inspired idea.

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Irvin March 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Hi Kim!

Thanks so much for coming out of your shell! As a former shy person myself (years of working retail cured me of it – well mostly) I can totally relate. It looks like you had a great time at Food Blog Forum, and it sounds like you also got some good advice as well.

I think the best thing about commenting on blogs (I would hesitate to call my blog a “big blog” but I love that you called me that) is that the person who is writing the blog gets to know a little bit about the person reading the blog. It’s no longer a monologue but a dialogue, and who doesn’t prefer chatting with someone over just speaking into the void?

Also, I love it when people leave comments because then I can learn things about them. Like how can you not like cheese? Or gravy?!?! Gravy is practically a beverage to me. I can literally drink it. Every time I get served something with gravy, I always have to ask for seconds and thirds of it. It’s frankly a bit embarrassing, but I can’t help it.

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Kim Bee March 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I am so pleased you replied. I may have jumped up and down a bit but we won’t tell anyone that right. I had so much fun at the conference. Meeting Jaden was the height of it for me. She is remarkable and incredibly sweet.

I totally agree with you and am glad I overcame my fear and finally started the dialogue. I’ve been scoping out your links today. AJ’s photos are fabulous. Loved the ones of you.

I am slightly embarrassed you now know my food quirks. They are vast and weird. I know I really should be booted out of the foodie community for some of them. Hope it helps that I do with chocolate what you do with gravy.

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Irvin March 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

I adore Jaden. She’s a sweetheart.

We all have our food quirks, so don’t worry. But I know that blogging and working on my recipes has made me more adventurous in the kitchen, so who knows, you might find yourself liking cheese or gravy sometime in the future. Or not. ;)

That said, I think you’ll like my Monday post. It’s all about chocolate…

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Sneh | Cook Republic March 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

What a fun event Irvine! And that layer cake is …. well genius! Bookmarking it for a rainy weekend :-) Thanks!

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Annie April 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Love how you adapted Martha’s cake. The original cake would take weeks of work for an ordinary mortal to make all that marzipan. And thank you so much for saying that her recipes (in THAT book) are kind of fussy and intimidating. I love looking at that book, but as a cookbook I think it’s mostly a failure. Her others are much better.

And when is yours coming out anyway?

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Irvin April 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm

LOL. I actually love the book, but it is DEFINITELY more of a coffee table book than a cookbook. But as a book to browse through, it’s gorgeous, though not the most accessible in terms of making recipes from.

I have numerous other ones (including three signed ones, all of which I have randomly acquired, not because I’m a super fan or stalked her) and yes, there are much better ones if you want to actually make something from them. But I like that I attempted to make a version of her recipe from that book and it actually turned out pretty decently (even if I did change out the recipes and such – the initial idea was hers).

As for my own cookbook? Who knows. But trust me, if/when I land a cookbook deal, I will be shouting about it from the rooftops and blogging up a storm about it!

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Cassidy Schap April 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Approximately how long would you say this took to make? Ballpark estimate.

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Irvin April 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hmm. I actually broke it down into two days so it’s hard for me to say. The first day I made the cakes – which probably took me about 3 to 4 hours start to finish, starting with reducing the carrot juice, grating the carrots by hand (because I’m a glutton for punishment) and chopping up the fresh pineapple to pulling the brownie cake out of the oven to cool on a wire rack.

I let it sit over night to cool at room temperature to cool, then the next day I made the carrots and the frosting and decorated the cake, probably another 2 to 3 hours. So all total 5 to 7 hours? Man, when you look at those hours, I really am crazy aren’t I?

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Cassidy Schap April 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Wow, that really is crazy! Do you think that the frosting and decorations would refrigerate well overnight or should I do as you did, baking the cakes tonight and assembling/frosting tomorrow? I’m worried that the coloring in the marzipan might leach into the frosting if left to sit.

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Irvin April 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I found that the coloring in the marzipan actually leached into the frosting overnight. But I can see making the whole cake (with frosting and decorations) all on one day, and then just making the carrots the day of and adding them…

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Cassidy Schap April 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Great, thanks! I think I’ll just bake the cake layers tonight and do the frosting tomorrow. Why risk it, am I right?

bjedrona April 9, 2012 at 7:35 am

When I saw pictures of this cake for the first time I knew I have to do it. It was love for the first sight, haha ;-). Finally, I made it. It’s delicious, moist and smells beautiful. Thank you for the recipe, it’s really awesome!

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merri April 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

If YOU think recipes are elaborate, I’m scared to look at them!!

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Tiffany March 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

This is AMAZING. Way more work than I think I would ever be able to put into a cake (I have baking ADD I think), but good for you. Looks great, and sounds like it tasted great, as well. And for the community get together — fabulous idea! I am in the south bay area, and although June 3 won’t work out for me, I would love to make it for another time :)

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Katie | The Hill Country Cook May 5, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Genius! Nobody believes me that carrot and chocolate would be a good combo!

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alison September 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm

My two favorite desserts have finally united! This is fabulous. I can’t wait to make this. Seriously. Just knowing this recipe exists, waiting for me to bake it, makes me happy.

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D Am April 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm

There were some really yummy cakes at the event, but by far the prettiest and luscious looking was your cake. When I lived in Deutschland, I used to go to the backeries a lot and it seemed there was one every so many blocks. But the bigger ones had glorious layered tortes all beautifully decorated and marzipan was common in side the cake, Covering the cake like fondant but instead marzipan, or in decorated pieces like yours. I like how you used carrot juice. I love seeing recipes using natural juices like beet juice for red frosting. I also like how your recipes read…almost like you’re talking to us and giving us nice tidbits of hints along the way.

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