carrot cake caramel trifle

I haven’t been very diligent in posting this week, so I wanted to lead the next string of posts off with something yummy.  August tends to be kind of a busy month for me, considering that both my parents, one of my best friends, and my sister-in-law all have their birthday.  I love family birthdays because it gives me an excuse to make bigger things, like roasts and layer cakes, that I tend not to make for just us two.  Having already done the layer cake thing this month, I was dying to break out the mini-trifle dishes I picked up at the Crate and Barrel outlet.  They are adorable and just the right size for dessert.  I also have a big trifle dish, but let’s be honest, that thing probably serves 16 people.

I was originally planning a blueberry peach trifle with the blueberry sauce I’ve got frozen away in my freezer from – ahem – probably two years ago.  But Mom mentioned she’d been dying for some carrot cake, so I changed my plan.  I still really wanted to make little layered desserts, so I picked out apples as a complementary fruit.  Layering it with salted caramel whipped cream made all the other flavors stand out – and, the whipped cream wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be.

Carrot Cake Caramel Trifle (serves 6)

If you plan to make this in a big trifle dish, I would probably at least double the amounts you see below.  There’s only one layer of apples, so obviously if you’d like two layers, double just the apples.


For the trifle:

  • 1/2 recipe carrot cake (the rest is excellent for snacking on plain)
  • 1 recipe sauteed apples
  • 1 recipe salted caramel whipped cream

For the carrot cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/3 c. shredded carrots
  • 2/3 c. flaked coconut
  • 2/3 c. crushed pineapple with juice
  • 2/3 c. raisins or currants
  • 2/3 c. chopped walnuts, optional

For the sauteed apples:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 medium apples
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar (not packed)
  • pinch salt

For the salted caramel whipped cream:

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. + 3/4 c. cream, divided


For the carrot cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a 9″x13″ pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.  Add flour and stir until almost combined, but some flour is visible on the surface and sides of the bowl.  Add remaining ingredients all at once and gently fold until well mixed.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top if necessary.  Bake until done, approximately 20 minutes.  Cool several minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cool to room temperature.

For the sauteed apples:

  1. Peel apples if you like (I usually don’t) and chop into approximately 3/4″ dice.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a frying pan.  Add apples and saute for a minute, then add brown sugar and a pinch of salt.  Saute about ten minutes or until apples are cooked through and juices are syrupy.
  3. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the salted caramel whipped cream:

  1. Place sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Stir constantly until the mixture has turned a uniform amber color and you can smell the caramelizing sugar.  Don’t let this mixture burn – it’s better for it to be a little underdone that to be burnt.
  2. Whisk this mixture constantly while drizzling in 1/2 c. of the cream.  Whisk until thoroughly mixed and smooth.  It will be thin.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature, or chill.
  3. Be sure the remaining 3/4 c. of the cream is thoroughly chilled.  When you are ready to assemble the trifle, place chilled cream in a chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks.  At this point, continue whisking and slowly drizzle caramel into the cream until completely incorporated.

For the trifle:

  1. Dice or crumble about half of the cake.  Divide half of that into six mini trifle dishes.  Follow with half of the whipped cream, the apples, then the remaining cake.  Finish with the second half of the cream.  Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the top.

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