It's hard to argue with carrot cake: sweet and spiced, with that smooth signature cream-cheese frosting providing the perfect counterpoint to the textured cake. And yet. There are two problems with most carrot cakes, say veteran cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. First, they can be dull because they're often made with tasteless oils; second, they can be one-dimensional, relying too much on the carrots for flavor.

In their new book, All-Time Favorite Sheet Cakes & Slab Pies, Weinstein and Scarbrough, who've written 30 books together, present a recipe that solves for both. Their remedies are unusual, to be sure—but they work. For the first issue (the tasteless oil), they use a combination of butter and oil in the batter. Specifically, a stick of unsalted butter, which adds rich flavor, along with 2/3 cup of canola or vegetable oil. To fix the second shortcoming, Weinstein and Scarbrough really go outside the box: They add parsnips to the carrots. The root vegetable brings a surprisingly earthy finish, all the better to match up with the supercreamy frosting.

And speaking of frosting, Weinstein and Scarbrough's is a dairy lover's holy grail. Their version of the buttercream mixes the usual butter, full-fat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla with four ounces of tangy goat cheese and a quarter-cup of sour cream, plus a small amount of light brown sugar. So it's sweet, but with a deeper, more substantial flavor thanks to the slightly tart goat cheese and the rich-tasting brown sugar.

There's even more to love about this recipe: It calls for baking the batter in a 13- x 13-inch lipped sheet pan (also known as a half sheet pan), which means the baked cake is not very tall—so, it's easy to get a good amount of frosting with every bite without having to create layers. Plus, it makes between 16 and 24 servings. Put this delicious cake out at your next party and get ready: You'll be asked for the recipe.

Get the recipe: Carrot Cake with Goat-Cheese Buttercream


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