Have your carrot cake and eat your cheesecake too— all in one bite.
By Chantal Rice, Photos courtesy of Second Bar + Kitchen
Michelle Arcilla Hall has been playing with her food for years. And that’s precisely what makes the renowned pastry chef’s creations so distinctive and tantalizingly peculiar.
After earning a degree in the culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu, she continued honing her culinary expertise while working at an impressive assemblage of eateries in California, including several Michelin-starred restaurants, before moving to Austin in 2012 and landing at Congress, working for the esteemed Chef David Bull.
But Chef Hall’s passion for culinary expression began much earlier: in a seventh-grade home-economics class. Perhaps that’s why her playful yet meticulously prepared desserts evoke an air of nostalgia. Now, as the executive pastry chef at Second Bar + Kitchen, she’s influenced by seasonal ingredients and her natural inclination toward the lavish, displaying an exceptional talent for reinventing classic desserts into whimsical creations.
From strawberry tapioca pudding and creamsicle tarts to caramel ice-cream bars with sour apple, gingersnap whoopie pies and peach cobbler fruit bars, Chef Hall’s sweet treats tug at taste buds’ wistful memories of childhood favorites.
Here, she shares her recipe for a truly divine mashup: carrot cake cheesecake with cream-cheese frosting
“I love this recipe because it is the best of both worlds: carrot cake and cheesecake. … This is a dessert that everyone is familiar with, but it has my very own twist of combining two classic flavors, so you don’t have to pick between cheesecake or cake.”Executive Pastry Chef Michelle Arcilla Hall
CARROT CAKE CHEESECAKE WITH CREAM-CHEESE FROSTING
Ingredients for the Carrot Cake
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
3/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
2 cups carrots, grated
Ingredients for the Cheesecake
1 pound 8 ounces cream cheese, super soft
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces sour cream
Ingredients for the Cream-cheese Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese, super soft
5 ounces butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound powdered sugar
Directions for the Carrot Cake
1. Sift the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom powder, ginger powder and cinnamon powder, then set the mixture aside.
2. Grate the carrots on the smallest round option of a box grater and set aside.
3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
4. Whisk the sugar and vanilla in with the eggs.
5. Whisk the oil into the egg mixture.
6. Whisk in the sifted dry ingredients.
7. Fold in the grated carrots with a rubber spatula.
8. Pour the carrot-cake batter into a quarter sheet pan sprayed and lined with parchment paper.
9. Bake the cake at 300 degrees for 12 minutes, then turn the pan and bake it for another 12 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and the batter is set.
10. Cool the cake before transferring it onto a new sheet pan with an extender and adding the cheesecake batter.
Directions for the Cheesecake
1. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and set aside.
2. Cream half the cream cheese with the salt and sugar in a mixer with a paddle until there are no lumps and the mixture is very smooth. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixer.
3. Add in the remaining cream cheese in small amounts and scrape down the sides often, then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each egg is added to ensure a smooth texture.
4. Fold in the sour cream just to combine, making sure to not overmix.
5. Save 1/4 cup of the batter in a bowl and color it with orange food coloring, then place it into a piping bag and set aside.
6. Pour the plain batter on top of the cooled carrot cake and spread smooth.
7. Pipe the 1/4 cup of orange-colored cheesecake batter in lines an 1/8 inch apart on top of the plain batter.
8. With a toothpick, make circular motions to decorate the batter to your liking.
9. Bake the cake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes then turn it every 15 minutes for another 30 to 45 minutes. (Chef’s note: The cake should jiggle a little when you shake it but it should look set.)
10. Cool the cake at room temperature then remove the extender. (Chef’s note: The cake is best cut frozen.)
11. Decorate the cake with the creamcheese frosting.
Directions for the Cream-cheese Frosting
1. Cream the cream cheese, butter and salt in a mixer with a paddle until there are no lumps and it is very smooth. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixer.
2. Add the powdered sugar in small amounts and scrape down the sides until the mixture is smooth.
3. Place the mixture in piping bags and use different piping tips to decorate the top of the carrot cake cheesecake.