While cooking, listen to this: Say You Love Me by Fleetwood Mac
*sigh* adulting is hard.
That's what my good friend Rebecca texted me the other day. She's about to start 5-year PhD program, and I was complaining about sitting at a desk all day. And you know what, adulting IS hard. I know, I know hindsight is 20/20, but being a kid was so nice. Even though school was, well, school, you were around your friends every day, you got to spend after school doing fun activities like sports or singing, and, if all else failed, you had your imagination and your ignorance.
But while being a kid was lovely, sometimes you need to remind yourself that being an adult rocks. You can watch TV for as long as you want, stay out way past your bedtime, and eat cake for breakfast. Sometimes, you just need to make bad choices.
That's why we created this cake. This cake is every sugar-filled bad choice you'll ever need to make. But oh, it's so damn good. If being an adult is about having to choose things, right? So, why choose between carrot cake and cheese cake when you can have both?
See, this is how adulting should be. A nice slice of carrot cake cheesecake smothered in a caramel sauce that can only be described as angelic in one hand and an engrossing book in the other. Throw in some sunshine and good company, and you have yourself a dreamy afternoon.
As an adult, you can absolutely make this happen. Whip up the cake, let it sit for a few hours in the fridge while you do grown-up things like changing your smoke detector battery, return to the scene of the crime (aka, the kitchen) drizzle with caramel sauce and dig in. This cake will be patiently waiting for you and will be even more satisfying than you ever imagined it would be.
Now that's some adulting I can get behind! Plus, there's carrots in here, so that's technically one of your veggie servings for the day, right?
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 large eggs
1 and ½ cups grated and peeled carrots*
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
¼ cup raisins (optional - we used golden raisins)
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 14-ounce can (1 ¼ cups) sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
salted caramel sauce (optional, but like, come on)
1 cup sugar
3 ounces/6 tablespoons salted butter (the higher the quality, the better the taste), cubed
½ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
*I HIGHLY recommend grating the carrots yourself - pre-shredded or grated carrots are almost always dryer than when you do it yourself, and the key to amazing carrot cake is getting in as much moisture as possible.
Preheat the oven: 350 F, and grease a 9-inch-diameter spring-form pan.
Prepare the carrot cake: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and coconut oil until well-blended. Whisk the eggs one at a time into the sugar-oil mixture. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar/oil/eggs and stir together until blended. Mix in the carrots, and the pecans and raisins if you're using them.
Bake the carrot cake: pour the batter into the springform pan and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and an inserted toothpick/other pointy object comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan.
Prepare the cheesecake: with a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Add in the condensed milk a bit at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl down if necessary. Add in the vanilla and lemon juice and mix until combined.
Assemble: pour the cheesecake filling on top of the carrot cake base and smooth with a spatula or palette knife. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for 2 ½ - 3 hours.
Prepare the caramel sauce: in a medium saucepan (you'll need a bigger pan than you think you do!), add the sugar and place over medium heat. Stir the sugar every once in a while, but not so much that the sugar turns into rock hard sugar nuggets before it melts. If this does happen, they'll melt eventually so don't fret. Melt the sugar until it's a nice dark copper color. Once you get this color, immediately add all of the butter and stir (it will get all bubbly and foamy so watch out!), then take off the heat and immediately stir in the heavy cream. Allow to cool before using.
To serve: if you're using the caramel sauce (which you absolutely should), pour it over the whole cheesecake. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream, ice cream or on its own.
To keep: because there is a cake base here, it will dry out a bit after a couple of days in the fridge. It will still be delicious though!