Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chèvre Caramel Sauce Drip

Carrot Cake

Moist, from-scratch spiced carrot cake iced with tangy cream cheese frosting flecked with vanilla beans and topped with a chèvre caramel sauce drip.

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Carrot Cake

Carrot cake has always been a little bit tricky for me. After making a couple of failed past carrot cake, my mom told me about my grandma’s secret ingredient carrot cake ingredient…baby food.

Yep, that’s right. A few jars of carrot baby food and I have a nice smooth carrot cake batter that bakes up perfect and leaves the house smelling of cinnamon and nutmeg.

To balance the sweet spiciness of the cake we’re going to double down on the cream cheese for extra tangy cream cheese frosting. Using a bit of vanilla bean paste rather than regular vanilla extract adds gorgeous flecks of vanilla bean into the frosting.

And then, because I like to be a little bit extra when it comes to birthday cake, I put a chèvre caramel sauce drip on top.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Tips for Success:

  • Bake the cakes the night (or two) before. Wrap them in plastic wrap and put in the fridge until you’re ready to decorate. I find cold cake easier to stack and frost than room temperature cake. Don’t attempt to frost cake that is still warm, even a little bit or you will melt your frosting and be mad.
  • Have your frosting at room temperature. Cream cheese frosting is pretty quick to whip up right before you’re ready to frost your cake but if you’ve prepped it ahead of time, be sure to take it out of the fridge several hours in advance. Cold frosting tears cakes, is hard to pipe, and will just generally make you furious.
  • Pour the caramel sauce on a cold cake. After frosting your cake with the cream cheese frosting, throw it back in the fridge for at least a half hour or if you have the space, the freezer for about 15 minutes. You want your frosting cold and hard before you pour the caramel sauce on.
  • The caramel sauce should still be slightly warm. But not hot. It’s a nice thick caramel sauce that won’t give you good drips if it’s cold but will run all over the place straight off the stove (not to mention it will melt you frosting like a warm cake will.
Carrot cake with caramel drip

How do I make the drip…drippy?

There are a few different methods for making a drip cake. A lot of it depends on the thickness of what you’re dripping and what you have in your kitchen. A lot of people use a spoon or a squeeze bottle. I filled a 16 inch piping bag with the caramel and cut just the very tip off the bag.

Whichever method you use, start with the edges of your cake and slowly “drip” caramel. See if you like how it runs down the edge of the cake. If you’d like more drip, add a little more. Slowly work around the edge of your cake and then use the remaining caramel to fill in the middle.

An offset spatula will help smooth the caramel on top . You may not need to use all the caramel sauce, I had maybe a 1/2 cup left over (excellent on ice cream).

After you’re done “dripping” the cake, put it in the fridge for everything to set. Bring the cake to room temperature before eating.

Carrot Cake

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter 1 stick
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 12 ounces baby food carrots
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour (or use Baker’s Joy) 2-8 inch cake pans.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in eggs one at a time and beat until well combined.  
  • Add in baby food carrots and beat to combine.
  • Turn mixer speed down to low.  Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda.  Mix to combine.
  • Add in the flour.  Mix to combine.
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans.  
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5-7 minutes on cooling rack and then turn out of cake pans.  Allow to finish cooling completely before frosting.

Notes

Make sure the ingredients on the baby food are just carrots and water.  There seems to be a lot of combination baby foods and while that might make for interesting cake, it’s not what we’re going for.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 1 8 inch 2 layer cake
Author Heather

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces regular cream cheese softened
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • With the mixer on high speed, cream the cream cheese until soft and whipped with no lumps.
  • Turn the mixer speed down to low and SLOWLY add in powdered sugar a little at a time, beating to combine.
  • Add in vanilla bean paste and beat to combine.

Notes

Using only cream cheese rather than a combination of cream cheese and butter makes this frosting pretty soft and it doesn’t pipe quite as nicely as this recipe that uses both.  But the straight cream cheese recipe makes a much tangier frosting.

Chèvre Caramel Sauce

Thick, rich tangy caramel sauce made easy by using store bought caramels.
Course Dessert
Keyword caramel
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 45 unwrapped Kraft caramels
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons chèvre cheese at room temperature

Instructions

  • Unwrap caramels.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together heavy cream and chèvre until combined and there are no lumps.  Remove from heat.
  • In a medium saucepan over low heat, add caramels and the cream together.  Stir constantly until the caramels are melted and you have a nice thick sauce.  Remove from heat and put into a heatproof container and allow to cool.

For more tips on how to make excellent cake, check out my article on how to fix an ugly cake or how to freeze your leftover frosting.

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Happy Baking!