Decisions, Decisions

The sweet life with pastry chef Zac Young.

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Zac Young's "Molten" Carrot Cake.

In a world of 24/7 everything, peak TV, and limitless internet shopping, we are bombarded with options — there’s simply too much to choose from. This is certainly true when it comes to that most crucial of categories: dessert. Cronuts, cookie shots, salted caramel praline macarons — who can decide?

It took a mad genius to remedy this distressing situation. Pastry chef Zac Young took the anxiety out of dessert decision-making with his culinary chimera the PieCaken. It’s everything you need in one tidy package: a layer each of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and apple upside-down cake, bound together with cinnamon buttercream. Problem solved.

The PieCaken is one of the many playful concepts from Young, pastry director of Craveable Hospitality Group; others include Who Will Love Me As I Yam pie, I Will Never Leave Yuzu trifle, and pumpkin baked Alaska with spiked eggnog center. For the James Beard Luncheon, Young took a classic carrot cake and turned it inside out. He was generous enough to share his recipe. Do you have what it takes to replicate the creation of one of the country’s best pastry chefs?

friday, March 23

The James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon
Zac Young prepares dessert.
11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.
$150 Reserved
$125 General

saturday, March 24

Zac Young’s Cakery
Tips on cake decorating.
10–11 a.m.
Admission included with $160 Premier Grand Tasting ticket

Zac Young’s “Molten” Carrot Cake
Yields 24 mini-cakes

2 cups sugar
1 ₁⁄₂ cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 ₁⁄₂ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 ₁⁄₂ teaspoons baking powder
1 ₁⁄₂ teaspoons baking soda
1 ₁⁄₂ teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups grated carrots

1 pound cream cheese
1 ¹⁄₄ cups powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, split

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray 12 cupcake tins with nonstick spray.

For the cakes: In a stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half of this mixture to the mixer bowl and mix on low until just combined. Toss the other half of the dry mixture with the carrots and fold into the batter.

Scoop the batter into prepared tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cakes spring back when gently touched or a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean.

For the frosting: Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Beat on 
medium-high speed until combined.

Assembly: Level the top of the cakes, then scoop out the center of each using a melon baller or small spoon. Fill the center of each cake with the cream cheese filling, then reheat in the oven for 5–10 minutes, until the center is gooey. Remove from tins and turn upside down to serve.

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