Chris Kujala has been Kinkead’s pastry chef for four years. He is a creative, talented, quiet, and hardworking professional. One of his best qualities is that he works clean; in fact, his pastry area is meticulously clean. A creative, even-tempered pastry chef who cleans up after himself is rare indeed. From early on I have been a big fan of spice cakes — carrot cake in particular: This dessert is Chris’s take on that American dessert standard.—Bob Kinkead
For the candied pecans
1 egg white
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
2 cups pecan halves (3/4 pound)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
For the roll cake
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 extra large eggs, separated
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
For the caramel sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons bourbon or brandy
2 tablespoons butter
For the cream-cheese icing
2 cups cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Make the candied pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
2. In a stainless steel bowl, whip the egg white until frothy. Stir in the vanilla, bourbon, and vanilla powder. Add in the pecans and toss until well coated. Add the brown sugar and mix until everything is incorporated. Spray a half sheet pan with vegetable cooking spray and spread the pecans out evenly. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until dry. Cool and chop half of the pecans in a food processor; they should not be too fine. Reserve the rest for garnish.
Make the roll cake
1. Turn up the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray a half sheet pan with vegetable cooking spray and line with baking parchment. Spray again and dust with flour.
2. In a saucepan, boil the carrots with the sugar in water to cover for 6 to 9 minutes, until very soft. Drain and puree in a food processor.
3. In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg yolks with a whisk until slightly thickened. Gradually mix in the brown sugar and whip by hand for about 5 minutes. Whip in the carrot purée.
4. Sift together the all-purpose and cake flours with the baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and ginger, then fold into the egg yolk-brown sugar mixture.
5. In a separate bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the batter. Spread evenly over the half sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown. Let cool slightly.
6. Place a clean dishtowel and cooling rack on the top, invert, and remove the pan and parchment. Roll the warm cake up lengthwise in the dishtowel to approximate the roulade. It should be fairly tight. Let cool.
Make the caramel sauce
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the white sugar until melted and golden in color. Add the brown sugar and cook until melted. Carefully add the water, salt, cream, and bourbon and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened. Remove from the heat and fold in the butter.
Make the cream-cheese icing
1. Soften the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and sour cream and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and sugar and mix just until smooth; do not overwork.
1. Unroll the carrot sheet cake and spread an even layer of the icing on one side. Roll up to make a single roll 18 inches long by about 3 inches in diameter. Spread the roll with a thin layer of the icing and roll it in the chopped candied pecans.
2. Cut into angled portions and serve with ice cream and a bourbon crème anglaise, made by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of bourbon to the basic crème anglaise. Garnish with candied pecan halves.
Recipe © 2004 by Bob Kinkead. All rights reserved.