Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Pecan Frosting
This irresistible carrot cake is covered with a thick layer of cream cheese maple pecan frosting! Crushed pineapple makes it super moist. It’s a great layer-cake for spring, and would make a perfect dessert for Easter!
It’s done! Our new floor is officially installed!
We love it. Eric’s dad Chip did an amazing installation. If you can think of any way to repay a family member who does awesome stuff like drive across the country to install your floors for free, let me know. I’ve already baked him 2 cakes (one was this carrot cake), a batch of chocolate chip cookies, Dark Chocolate Waffles, pancakes, bought him several quarts of Gunther’s ice cream, etc. (PS if you are ever visiting Sacramento, Gunther’s is a MUST.)
Now that Eric and I have a giant wood floor we are desperate to cover it up with a thousand rugs. (I know, I know. We are actually totally carpet people. It’s just so cozy! But everyone told us the space would look way better if all the carpet was ripped out, and there was no way I was keeping the white carpet in my dining room.)
We headed to a carpet place to see what kind of remnants they had (we wanted to get a remnant bound into a rug, because cheap.) But then I saw THIS:
Isn’t it awesome??? It’s like a muppet, but you can walk on it. Then the shop owner told me it was $5,000. Aagh!!
Here’s what we ended up getting. It hasn’t arrived yet. What do you think?
My sister-in-law Reesy (who designed my blog) flew out for the weekend to hang with us and her parents. It was her birthday, and she requested a carrot cake. I’ve never even made a carrot cake before, so it was fun to try it out. It turned out amazing! The perfect level of spice. And the frosting!! Stuff of dreams guys.
If the pecans on this cake look gargantuan it’s because THEY ARE. These pecans eat regular store-bought pecans for breakfast. They are making this look like a dinky cake, when in reality it’s not. It’s a pretty tall 2-layer cake. It’s just being dwarfed by monstrous pecans.
My parents have a pecan tree in their backyard and these are leftover from the fall harvest. I love having friends and family who are willing to give away the fruits (literally) of their labor.
You can totally make this cake without the pecans, if that’s not your thing. I think I will try leaving them out next time for a smoother cake. I will NOT, however, be leaving them out of the frosting. It totally takes the flavor from amazing to AMAZING. If you know what I mean. They are chopped up so small (in the frosting) that you don’t have to take extra time to chew at the end of each bite; they just kind of melt away. It’s so good.
I hope you can tell from the photos that this cake is MOIST. I don’t mess around when it comes to cake. Go moist or go home. There is probably nothing more unappealing than a dry cake. This recipe has an entire 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple in it, which not only tastes amazing, but also means that it is really hard to dry out this cake.
I know if seems like a ways off, but Easter is in March this year! It’s coming up quick. I think this cake would make for a show-stopping dessert on Easter Sunday!
If you make this carrot cake, snap a photo and share on Instagram using #TheFoodCharlatan! I love to see what you’re making!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Pecan Frosting
For the cake:
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup lightly flavored oil, *
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, or sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 8 ounces crushed pineapple, with juice
- 2 cups flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cups grated carrots, I used about 5 medium.
- 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional!)
For the frosting:
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
- 3/4 cup salted butter, 1 & 1/2 sticks, soft
- 1 & 1/2 8-oz packages cream cheese, soft (12 ounces total)
- 4 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons real maple syrup, I used Grade A
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- more pecans, to garnish
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 2 9-inch cake pans: trace the bottom of each pan onto parchment paper, cut it out, and place in the bottom of the pan. Then generously spray the paper and the sides of the pans with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together white sugar, brown sugar, oil, Greek yogurt, vanilla, 4 eggs, and pineapple. (don't drain it!)
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, (don't pack your flour! Spoon it into the measuring cup.), baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
- Use a box grater to shred the carrots. It's annoying to do this by hand, but if you use a food processor, the shredded pieces will be too big and won't melt into the cake.
- If you are adding pecans to the cake, toast the chopped pecans in a small skillet for a few minutes on medium until they start to smell good and are lightly browned.
- Fold in the carrots and pecans.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans, do your best to distribute evenly. If you have a kitchen scale you can weigh them.
- Bake at 325 for 38-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Wait about 20-30 minutes, then run a knife along the edge and flip the cakes onto cooking racks. Be careful! This cake is heavy but delicate. Eat as many crumbs and scraps and you can legitimately get your hands on.
- Let cool completely.
- At this point, you can either wrap your cakes in plastic wrap and freeze so that it is super easy to frost (that's what I did) or you can frost immediately. Just be careful.
For the frosting:
- Chop up the pecans. You can chop them with a knife or in a food processor. Click on the photo of the frosting below the recipe to see what level of choppiness we're talking.
- Set a frying pan over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir occasionally until they start to smell delicious, or until they barely start to brown. Set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese to within an inch of its life. Just kidding, beat it for a couple minutes until it's high and fluffy.
- Add half the powdered sugar and all the maple syrup. Beat well.
- Add the rest of the powdered sugar, maple extract, and salt. Beat well.
- Add the chopped pecans when they are completely cooled and beat well.
- Place one of the cake layers on your cake plate. Top with about 1 cup of frosting and spread. Top with the other cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Garnish with toasted pecans.
Here’s how I chopped the pecans to go in the cake.
Visit this Maple Pecan Buttercream Frosting post for more details on how to make the frosting. It’s almost the same recipe, I just swapped one stick of butter for a block of cream cheese:
Here are some other great cake ideas!
Cinnamon-Cardamom Cake with Maple Pecan Frosting << This frosting is almost identical, just minus the cream cheese.
Almond Sheet Cake << perfect for spring! This cake is amazing! One of my personal favs.
Blackberry Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting: comes together in a flash. Huge family favorite.
The Best Chocolate Cake I’ve Ever Had << I’m not lying.
More amazing carrot cakes from friends!
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