Apple Pecan Carrot Cake

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Guys, can I ask you all a random, but still perfectly serious question?

How old do you think I am?

Take a look at my picture to the right, or the pictures of me in my last post at my sister’s wedding. (Disclaimer: I usually ‘look’ like the picture to the right on a day to day basis, whereas at my sister’s wedding I was dolled up with lots of pretty makeup and a gorgeous hairdo which is NOT the norm for me.)

But anyway, yeah: how old am I?

Don’t be shy. I won’t be offended. Let’s hear it. Your best guesses.

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If you guys are anything at all like most random strangers I meet, my estimation is that a lot of your guesses are in late teens, early twenties. A lot of people think that I’m young enough to just be starting college or midway through at the most.

Not so.

I actually graduated from college three years ago.

And I’m not in my late teens or early twenties.

As a matter of fact, this weekend, September the 27th to be exact, I will officially be out of my ‘mid twenties’ and step into the later half of them.

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In a nutshell: my 26th birthday is on Sunday, guys.

I’ll be twenty six. In a manner of speaking, I guess I already am considering twenty six years ago I was alive and kickin in my mom’s stomach with Jas.

When I’ve informed people that I meet of this that mistake me for a teen or early twenty-something, I always get the same reaction. Shock. Disbelief. Then, immediate congratulations at having “good genes” or “aging really well.” I’m personally not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I’m sure that soon enough further down the road if I still look younger than what I really am, I’ll feel great about it. But for now, still being mistaken for someone who’s still not old enough to legally purchase alcohol, when in actuality I crossed that bridge LONG ago is…meh.

Birthdays stopped being something that were really important to me years and years ago. I typically let my own pass by without much fanfare or celebration; it just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Still, the one tradition that I do still like to continue- especially since I learned how to cook/bake, is the tradition of having a cake. Because cake, is ALWAYS a big deal. Last year it was this Caramel Snickerdoodle Cake. This year, I knew I wanted something that really tasted like Fall. My mom had just bought me The Southern Cake Book released by Southern Living, and I picked this one out as my and Jas’ birthday cake pretty much as soon a I saw it.

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Let me break it down for you guys: small chunks of apples, pecans and grated carrots mixed into a SUPER moist cake batter with a mild spice flavor gets baked into 2 9-inch cakes. The middle filling is a GLORIOUS, smooth and easy Apple Cider caramel sauce that comes together in minutes. Sandwich the two cake layers together, then spread a light n’creamy cream cheese frosting on top and sprinkle with more pecans.

I made the cake last weekend- and we’re down to the last few slices already. Yep. It’s THAT good. If you’ve got a birthday coming up in the family or your circle of friends, I highly reccommend this one: you’ll make your loved one and anybody else lucky enough to get a slice VERY happy. I’ll be linking up this post with our host Angie at this week’s Fiesta Friday #87– that way, we ALL get cake.

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Apple Pecan Carrot Cake


Recipe Courtesy of The Southern Cake Book

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Ingredients

2 1/3 cups finely chopped lightly toasted pecans, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and grated Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

1 cup apple cider
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-oz.) container cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream

Directions

For Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle 1 1/3 cups toasted pecans into 2 well-buttered shiny 9-inch round cake pans; shake to coat bottom and sides of pans.

2. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients.

3. Stir together eggs and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Add flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Fold in apples, carrots, and remaining 1 cup pecans. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

5. Place 1 cake layer, pecan side down, on a serving plate. Spread top of cake layer with 2/3 cup Apple Cider Caramel Sauce; top with remaining cake layer, pecan side down. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over top of cake. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Caramel Sauce over frosting, and swirl sauce into frosting. Serve immediately.

For Apple Cider Caramel Sauce: Cook cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Refrigerate up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir until smooth.

For Cream Cheese Frosting: Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl just until blended. Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into cream cheese mixture.