brown sugar honey cake with carrot ganache and crushed honeycomb


do honeycombs make your skin crawl? does the sight of caviar make you nauseous? do you feel extreme discomfort after looking at close-ups of pores or hair follicles? if you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably have trypophobia!

the term is unofficial, but many (myself included) claim to be afflicted with the fear. trypophobia is defined as the fear of clusters of holes.

personally, honeycombs are the most excruciating to look at, which is why i was so impressed with myself for making this cake. it contains honeycomb candy, which has the trademark bubbly interior of real honeycomb. its texture is achieved by whisking baking soda vigorously into a hot sugar syrup, which aerates the mixture and develops tiny air bubbles.

if you are a trypophobic, this cake is definitely a worthy opportunity to work on conquering your fear. the layers are moist with coffee and cream; the cream cheese frosting plays off the sweet earthiness of the ganache; the honeycomb adds texture and depth.

you will need a 6×20 inch strip of acetate and a 6-inch metal cake ring.

cake (recipe from epicurious)

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

brown sugar buttercream

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
  • 6 oz cold cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream

carrot ganache (recipe adapted from the momofuku milk bar cookbook)

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 5 oz white chocolate
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

honeycomb (recipe from food network)

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 tsp baking soda


  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp strong coffee

for the cake, preheat the oven to 350º. grease a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment paper.whisk together all the dry ingredients, then make a well in the mixture and whisk in the remaining ingredients. combine you should have a thick, homogeneous batter. bake for 35 minutes when finished, the cake should be dark brown, set in the middle, but springy. let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely. cover in plastic wrap until ready to use (can be frozen).

for the buttercream, beat the brown sugar and butter in a stand mixer until fluffy. add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cream; beat for an additional 3 minutes.

for the ganache, preheat the oven to 400º. toss the carrots with the oil, honey, and salt on a parchment-lined baking sheet. bake for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. let cool. transfer the carrots to a blender or food processor and puree it with the 3 tbsp heavy cream. press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve; it should be the consistency of pumpkin puree. measure 1/2 cup of the puree and set aside. combine the white chocolate and the butter in a saucepan and melt. transfer to a tall, narrow container. using an immersion blender, buzz the mixture while gradually adding the 1/4 cup heavy cream. blend in the 1/2 cup carrot puree until the mixture is completely smooth.

for the honeycomb, combine the sugar, water, honey and corn syrup in a large saucepan. boil (without stirring!) until amber colored and 305º on a candy thermometer. remove from the heat and quickly add the baking soda. stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or wire whisk. it will foam up a lot. pour the mixture onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and let cool completely. break into bite-sized pieces, and store in an airtight container.

for the soak, stir together the milk and coffee.

to assemble, use the cake ring to punch two circles and two half circles out of the cake. reserve scraps for snacking. wipe off the cake ring, then place it on a sheet pan. lay a 6-inch circle of cardboard (or cake board) in the bottom. line the ring with the strip of acetate. place the two half circles in the bottom, adding scraps if needed to complete the circle. brush with a good amount of the soak. use the back of a spoon to spread on a generous amount of the ganache. smooth on a sixth of the buttercream. top with a generous amount of honeycomb bits. use the back of a spoon to spread another sixth of the buttercream over the crumbs (it can be messy). repeat with the second layer, using a whole round. nestle the final layer on top. cover the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream, and garnish with a border of honeycomb bits. transfer the sheet pan to the freezer, and freeze for at least 12 hours (or up to 2 weeks).

3 hours before serving, remove the cake ring and acetate. move to a cake stand. bring to room temperature before serving.

4 thoughts on “brown sugar honey cake with carrot ganache and crushed honeycomb

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