Carrot Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

I have a super old carrot cake recipe on my blog from years back. Since then, I've tweaked it and thought I would share it. I tried a citrus cake at a bakery near my house recently and the girl at the counter told me that their secret was that they pureed the entire fruit and added it to the batter. The essential oils from the zest enhanced the flavor of the cake and the juice and rind helped add moisture. So, I took a cue from that and decided to throw a few oranges into my carrot cake mixture and it made the cake so much more moist and amazing. The flavor of orange is subtle enough not enough not to be overpowering, but the slight fragrance adds a freshness. I feel like carrot cake is sort of an old lady's dessert, but the orange helps give it a fresh take.

I thought this would be a fun recipe to share for Thanksgiving. I mean, if you've been invited over to someone's house to celebrate, how nice would it be to bring a Tupperware full of these?
Ingredients [yields 2 x 8" rounds]:
2 medium oranges, pureed (about 1 cup)
4 eggs
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
¼ cup buttermilk
1½ cups light brown sugar
2 cups grated carrot
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt

4 oz. cream cheese (1/4 cup)
4 oz. container of mascarpone cheese (1/4 cup)
¼ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Start by roughly chopping up the oranges so that they fit in a food processor. Pulse until pureed and smooth.
Add the orange puree to a mixing bowl along with the eggs. Whip until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
While the mixer is going, grate the carrots.
Once the eggs and orange puree are light and fluffy, add oil, applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla, and the spices (salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger), and whip until combined.
Next, add in the carrots.
And then the brown sugar.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and then slowly incorporate into the batter, mixing just until the batter comes together.
Pour the batter into greased/lined cake pans - either (2) 8" or 9" rounds or cupcake tin - and bake at 350F until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. It'll take 30 to 35 minutes for the cake tins and 15 to 20 minutes for the cupcake tins; but it's good to check periodically.
To make the frosting, start with room temperature butter, cream cheese, and mascarpone in a mixing bowl and whip until light and fluffy.
Add salt and brown sugar and cream together until smooth and fluffy.
Add in vanilla extract and then slowly incorporate the powdered sugar. Whip vigorously until well-combined and the frosting is homogenous and fluffy.
Spread the frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle on some Biscoff cookie crumbs (optional) and serve.
Some of you may share Kevin Malone's feelings on carrot cake ("This cake has vegetables in it!") but I love carrot cake, and this recipe in particular. The cake is fluffy and super moist and isn't cloyingly sweet, which means that despite the frosting, it can pretty easily be enjoyed for breakfast.
Here are the recipe pages: