This moist flavorful Carrot Cake is topped with a Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. This dessert is perfect for Easter…and any other time of the year!
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When I was a kid, I never liked carrot cake. Well, to be honest, I never tried carrot cake. I actually loved carrots, and I definitely ate my fair share of cake. But I didn’t like the idea of carrots being in my cake. I mean, who in the their right mind would ever put vegetables in a cake? So I went many, many years without ever trying carrot cake. Then something amazing happened: I ate a piece of carrot cake and liked it. I have no idea what came over me, but for some reason I decided to be brave and give it a shot. And now it’s definitely a top 5 dessert option for me!
This cake is a 2-layer cake with a traditional cream cheese frosting. (Well, I did put a slight twist on the frosting by adding the brown sugar.) In fact, the rules for carrot cake are pretty flexible in general. Most baked goods follow pretty strict guidelines, but carrot cake doesn’t fall into that category.
This recipe is what I consider to be pretty classic, but feel free to change it up a bit. For instance, you can substitute pecans for the walnuts or add a bit of crushed pineapple to make the cake extra moist. I’ve even come across recipes with canned pumpkin and chocolate. (Not saying I would personally make those versions…but the point remains that carrot cakes don’t have to follow many rules!)
One of my absolute favorite parts about this cake is the tiny carrots piped around the outside. These carrots are super easy to pipe, but they do require a couple of basic frosting tips. (Craft stores are an excellent place to pick up individual frosting tips.) Use a medium-sized round tip (I used a #8 tip) to create the carrot. Start by squeezing a bit harder at the top and then reduce pressure on the piping bag as you pull away.
I definitely recommend practicing this technique a couple times on clean parchment paper. Once you’ve mastered the carrot shape, just scrape the frosting back into the bag. Once you have carrots piped around the cake, simple add a leaf to each by using a leaf tip (I used a #352 tip).
Finally, you can dip a toothpick in cocoa powder and drag it across the carrot to create authentic-looking “dirt” lines. See the picture below for a guide on piping the carrots. They are quite easy to pipe with just a small amount of practice…and your family and friends will be quite impressed with your cake decorating skills!
Carrot Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Carrot Cake
For the Carrot Cake
- In the bowl of a countertop mixer with the paddle attached, add the vegetable oil and sugar. Mix until blended.
- Sift the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together. Add 1/2 of this mixture to the bowl and mix until blended.
- Add 2 of the eggs and mix until blended.
- Add remaining dry mixture and mix until blended.
- Add remaining 2 eggs and mix until blended.
- Add carrots, 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, and raisins and mix until blended.
- Divide batter evenly into 2 greased 9″ cake pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool before frosting.
For the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a countertop mixer with the paddle attached, add the cream cheese and butter and cream until blended.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon and blend until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until desired sweetness and consistency is achieved. (I used 5 cups.)
- Beat on high for 1-2 minutes.
Assembling the Cake
- Toast the remaining chopped walnuts (1 1/2 cups) at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes. (Watch carefully as they will burn quickly!)
- Once carrot cakes are cooled, place one layer in the center of a large plate.
- Carefully frost the top of that layer and then place second layer on top.
- Frost the outer edge of the cake and then the top of the cake. (Reserve about 1 cup of frosting for the carrots!)
- Using a cupped hand, carefully push the toasted walnuts into the side of the cake.
- Divide the reserved frosting into two bowls and color the frosting orange and green.
- Using a pastry bag, pipe the carrots around the top of the cake (I piped 16 carrots as there are 16 slices in a 2-layer 9″ round cake.)