You know I couldn’t leave the upcoming carrot cake season alone without offering my favorite new carrot cake of the year. If you tried the Carrot Cake Cheesecake from a couple years ago – heavy on the cheesecake, light on the carrot cake – think of today’s recipe as a flip-flopped (and much easier) variation: heavy on the carrot cake (oh, yes), light on the cheesecake.
What it is, simply, is my all-time favorite carrot cake adapted to layer over a simple, blended cream cheese filling. All you have to do is spread half the batter in the bundt pan, add the cheesecake filling on top, and spread the last half of the carrot cake batter on top. The 45 minute, or so, stint in the oven does all the swirling for you so you have more time to do the things you love (or maybe just wash up the dishes, whatever).
The cake is not only beautiful (there’s just something about bundt cakes that scream fancy pants), but the tender spiced carrot cake with just a hint of cream cheese swirling throughout is almost so delicious, you could do without the frosting. But on second thought, who am I to even dare suggest that. Carrot cake without a healthy dollop of luxurious, creamy frosting would be sacrilege (and if you haven’t made the unbelievable carrot cake recipe yet, you should know that adding the little spoonful of sour cream to the frosting is the difference between ok and completely ridiculous).
Carrot cake (let’s rephrase: really, really good carrot cake) gets me every time and I still have yet to figure out why. It’s what I like to call the “sugar cookie syndrome.” As much as I love and adore and crave and dream of decadent chocolate cakes, confections and cookies – you show me a table laden with treats and if there’s a sugar cookie on there, I’m a-gonna have to try it. Same with carrot cake. Those are probably the two desserts that I’d give up chocolate for (speaks volumes) and the version today is out of this world delicious.
For the oil, you can try subbing in half unsweetened applesauce (it works great for the original carrot cake this was adapted from). I used a combination of avocado and light olive oil for this recipe but you could use canola, vegetable or even coconut oil (melted first).
I know the issue of the bundt pan will probably come up. First off, I use a 10-inch bundt pan (a totally old school one from the 70's my mother-in-law gave me a few years ago that she got as a wedding present and it's crazy vintage awesome) but you could try a smaller bundt pan keeping in mind you may need to increase the baking time (and make sure the batter doesn't overflow, although there was an inch of space left using a 10-inch pan). If you don't have a bundt pan at all, feel free to experiment using a couple loaf pans or even a cake pan. I can't offer any advice about how they will work but things like that are always worth a try, in my opinion (if nothing else, you could treat yourself to a new bundt pan and spend a lifetime making fancy bundt cakes).
- 1 2/3 cup (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 large carrots (12 ounces), ends trimmed and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
- 1 cup oil (see note above)
- 1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans, optional
- 8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch bundt cake pan very well, getting in all the nooks and crannies. Lightly dust with flour, tapping out the excess, and set aside.
- For the cake batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl (you can use the bowl of a stand electric mixer here), with a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugars together until blended. With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil and mix until thick and creamy.
- Add the dry ingredients, carrots and pecans, and mix gently by hand until combined and no streaks of flour remain. Set aside for a few minutes while preparing the cream cheese filling.
- For the cream cheese layer, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and egg until smooth and well-combined. You can use an electric mixer or I generally use my blender (Blendtec model) for whipping this together.
- Pour half of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Spoon the cream cheese mixture in dollops evenly across the top. Finish with the remaining carrot cake batter. It's ok if you can see the cream cheese layer peeking through - the carrot cake may not cover it all the way.
- Bake the cake for 45-60 minutes until the top lightly springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
- Remove fron the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate to cool completely.
- For the frosting, whip together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and well-combined (again, I use my blender for this but you can use an electric mixer). Add the heavy cream, sour cream and powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
- Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the frosting over the top curve of the bundt cake. If you want to cover the cake entirely, you can double the frosting.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. The cake can be made, frosted and refrigerated up to a day in advance.
Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe my friend Kim sent me (adapted my own favorite carrot cake to use, cut down the frosting amounts, added a bit of sour cream to the frosting because it’s the best thing ever, and varied a few other ingredients). Thanks, Kim!