Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 8" cake rounds, line with parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine vegetable oil and sugars. Beat until well combined (2 mins). Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
Add flour mixture in 3 parts. Add in carrots.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for 55mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
Place maple syrup in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Do not stir at any point.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer until maple syrup starts to brown even more (the bubbles will be very dark brown) or the temperature reads 240F on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream while whisking quickly. The mixture will bubble up a lot.
Return to heat, add butter, and continue to cook for 2-3mins while whisking constantly.
Cool completely then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.*
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer beat butter until pale and creamy. Reduce speed to low. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix on low until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and continue to beat on medium for 1 minute.
Slowly add chilled cream cheese one cube at a time (about 1 tablespoon at a time). Beat well until blended and ensure no lumps of cream cheese remain.
If needed, add cornstarch or meringue powder 1 tablespoon at a time to stiffen the frosting (I didn't but this is an option). Run mixer on low for a couple of minutes to remove any air bubbles.
Trim cake layers if needed. Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup. Top with 1 cup of cream cheese frosting and half of the caramel.**
Repeat with remaining layer and sprinkle chopped pecans on top if desired.
* If you refrigerate your caramel, you will need to warm it up a bit before using on the cake. I microwave it in 5 second intervals, stirring in between, until it's pourable (but not warm).** It's best to create a bit of a lip with the frosting so that the caramel doesn't pour out the sides.Maple Caramel recipe adapted from Ricardo Cusine.