Carrot Cake belongs in the Spring time. This Chocolate Carrot Cake recipe comes from my friend Christie, shared with me years ago, and it continues to be a favorite around our house. Every Spring I think of her when I make it!
Two years ago, I shared my favorite Classic Carrot Cake Recipe with you but since then I discovered chocolate carrot cake! Just when I thought carrot cake couldn’t get any better… it did!! This super moist and chocolatey carrot cake is topped with a salted caramel frosting that is to-die-for. When contemplating frostings for this cake, I was also experimenting with my hot crossed buns recipe and decided that the same frosting would be perfect on both. Basically I’m obsessed with this Salted Caramel Frosting and have been putting it on EVERYTHING!
My friend Christie, who blessed me with this cake recipe, came in and out of my life too quickly but we made a lasting relationship. We connected over pie crust, this book, Jesus, baking, and now our daughters. Before she moved she gave me a few of her favorite recipes that I’ll always treasure. Recipes, like this one, with a story and friendship behind them always seem to taste sweeter and satisfy deeper.
Thanks sweet friend, Christie, for your soul satisfying Chocolate Carrot Cake. I hope you and your daughter are doing well and we miss you! Now I’m gifting this recipe to you all online and hope it is shared all the more!
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil (you can use apple sauce for 1/2 cup of the oil if desired)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 lb carrots shredded
- 3/4 cup walnuts toasted and chopped (optional)
- salted caramel frosting*:
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream (plus more for thinning as necessary)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 10-14 ounces powdered sugar (depending on your preference for thickness)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line to 8 inch round cake pans with parchment (cut out a circle of parchment slightly smaller than the size of the cake pan and place in the bottom of each cake pan). Spray pans with cooking spray.
Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Use a cheese grater or a food processor with the shredding attachment to shred up the carrots.
In a stand mixer, combine the oil (and apple sauce if using) with the brown sugar. Add in the eggs one at a time. Then add in the vanilla. Add the dry mix in two separate additions. Stir in the carrots and optional walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake bounces back when you gently press into it with your finger tip.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes or so, then, use a knife to loosen up the edges of each cake around the pan. Carefully turn out cakes onto a wire drying rack.
Melt butter over medium heat then add in the brown sugar, cream, and salt. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves (about 3-4 minutes). Transfer warm caramel to a stand mixer (or you can use a medium bowl and a hand mixer) and add in the powdered sugar. Whip the frosting until well combined (smooth without any lumps of powdered sugar). Add a tablespoon or so of more cream if the frosting is too thick. Use frosting while its still warm to frost the cake.
Place one layer of the cake on a cake stand and spread out 1/3 of the frosting on the first layer. Add the second layer of cake then top with remaining frosting, letting the warm caramel frosting drip over the edges. As the frosting cools it will harden.
The frosting should be still slightly warm when you go to frost the cake but it will harden as it cools so use it warm. If it cools too much rewhip it in the mixer before trying to spread it out onto the cake. I like to use a pipping bag to get an even layer of it over the cake (for the middle layer). Then I spoon out the rest over the center of the top of the cake and use the back of a spoon to spread it out, letting the frosting drip out over the edges as it spreads.