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Carrot-Apple Spice Cake with Browned-Butter Glaze

Photo: Johnny Miller; Styling: Sarah Smart

Hands-on time 30 mins
Total time 1 hr, 30 mins
Yield Serves 16 (serving size: 1 piece)
We challenged ourselves to come up with a showstopping dessert that uses boxed cake mix as a starting point--and we succeeded. Fresh carrot and apple plus a splash of bourbon boost the flavor of the layers, while the browned-butter glaze is, well, the wildly delicious icing on the cake.

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box spice cake mix (such as Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated peeled Honeycrisp apple (or any sweet-tart apple)
  • Baking spray with flour
  • Glaze:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Nutrition Information

  • calories 294
  • fat 12 g
  • satfat 3.7 g
  • monofat 5 g
  • polyfat 1.7 g
  • protein 3.6 g
  • carbohydrate 43.7 g
  • fiber 0.6 g
  • cholesterol 45 mg
  • iron 0.8 mg
  • sodium 259 mg
  • calcium 86 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed for 1 minute or until well combined. Add cake mix to buttermilk mixture; beat at medium speed 1 minute or until well blended. Stir in carrot and apple until just combined. Divide batter evenly among 3 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

  3. To prepare glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Cool slightly. Combine browned butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed 2 minutes or until smooth.

  4. To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread 1/4 cup glaze over cake layer. Top with second layer and spread with 1/4 cup glaze. Top with third layer. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar into remaining glaze. Spread remaining glaze over top of cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.