Tropical Carrot Cake


Apparently carrot cake is a very popular dessert around Easter.  I’m not totally sure why – I guess Easter makes us think of bunnies which make us think of carrots?  Whatever the reason, it’s a lovely spring dessert.  I have been wanting to try this recipe for tropical carrot cake since long before I owned The Pastry Queen cookbook.  I hosted a low key Easter-inspired meal this weekend for the in-laws and served this as the sweet finale.  It was a big hit with everyone, and I heard several refrains of “best carrot cake ever” as we were enjoying it.


This carrot cake earns its tropical label by the addition of macadamia nuts, diced pineapple, shredded coconut, and coconut cream.  All these tasty mix-ins gave the cake multiple layers of delicious flavor and great texture.  However, it also seemed to cause the layers to sink in the center during baking and after cooling.  The combination of such a moist cake and so many mix-ins produced a cake that was not the most structurally sound, but it came together alright nonetheless.  My only gripe was with the frosting because the original recipe simply didn’t make enough to cover the cake well.  Yes, it was enough to cover it very thinly, but lots of crumbs were showing and there was none left over for detailing.  I hate when I’m forced to go back and make extra frosting, so I have altered the version below to yield enough frosting to adequately fill and cover the cake.  I threw these little fondant carrots on top for decoration and they added a cute finishing touch.  This makes a reeeeally big cake, but somehow I don’t think guests will mind taking home a leftover piece or two 😉

Tropical Carrot Cake
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Ingredients:
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups canola or vegetable oil
½ cup cream of coconut
1½ cups peeled, shredded carrots
1½ cups diced pineapple (fresh or canned)
1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted

For the frosting:
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
5½ tbsp. heavy cream
5½ tbsp. cream of coconut
¾ tsp. salt

Directions:
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and grease and flour the sides, tapping out the excess.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk together to blend.  In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, oil, and cream of coconut.  Whisk well to combine.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.  Add in the shredded carrots, diced pineapple, flaked coconut and macadamia nuts.  Fold in gently with a spatula until evenly incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the cakes 180 degrees and from top to bottom racks (and vice versa) halfway through baking.  The cakes are finished baking when golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cakes 5-10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add in the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated.  Beat 1 minute more, until smooth and fluffy.  Mix in the heavy cream, cream of coconut and salt until smooth.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand or platter.  Spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over the top.  Top with another cake layer, and more frosting on top of that.  Place the final cake layer on top.  Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the assembled cake, reserving up to 1 cup for detailing if desired.

Source: adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

44 Responses

  1. Carrot cake is delicious and yours looks wonderful and very much like Easter!

  2. Did yuo buy the fondant carrots pre-made or did you make them yourself? They look amazing!

  3. so cute…and prob tastes great!!

  4. the pineapple in this reminds me of hummingbird cake, which is also one of my spring favorites! glad u ended up making extra frosting because the best thing about carrot cake has to be the cream cheese frosting!!

  5. That looks yummy! I might have to give it a try sometime. Do you make your own fondant or do you get the pre-made kind? Just wondering 🙂 Happy Wednesday!

  6. Looks yummy!! I love the Pastry Queen, it is such a good book!!

  7. What a beautiful cake! Do you think the amount of batter could convert this recipe into a sheet cake? Just curious.

  8. Hi Annie-
    LOVE YOUR BLOG!! I found you through Tastespotting and have tagged you as one of my favorites. I make a tropical carrot cake that is from Bon Apetit magazine. At first I thought it was the same recipe. They are very similar. I think the crystalized ginger in this recipe makes it extra fabulous.
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tropical-Carrot-Cake-with-Coconut-Cream-Cheese-Frosting-107949

    BTW this recipe makes too much frosting!

    ps Made the Lemon Yogurt cake THREE times since you highlighted it recently. Everyone LOVES it!!
    Susan

  9. Carrot cake has to be my all time favorite cake. With all the extra add in’s in your cake, this sounds even yummier than the normal version. Can’t wait to try it!!

  10. I’m always looking for new carrot cake recipes and this looks fantastic.

  11. This is a beautiful cake, nice eye candy!

  12. beautiful….love carrot cakes….the fondant carrot looks so real!

  13. I absolutely love Rebecca Rather! We were married in Fredericksburg and never miss a visit (or two) to Rather Sweet when we visit. All of her recipes I’ve tried have been amazing so far – I especially recommend her egg kolaches.

  14. The cake is lovely, but I especially giggled at your logic about why carrot cake is so popular this time of year. Good job!

  15. Love this — think I’ll be making it as cupcakes for Easter! Thanks!

  16. I’m ready to try this without the macadamia nuts….I wonder if the nuts help add strength to the cake though…I’ll let you know, if I follow through.

  17. This looks so pretty! I love carrot cake anytime but I think I may be the only one in the house that really appreciates it.

  18. This sounds and looks amazing!
    Yes, carrot = bunnies = Easter Bunny 🙂

  19. What a wonderful take on a classic! Sounds delicious!

  20. Those fondant carrots are perhaps the cutest cake garnish I’ve ever seen. This version of carrot cake sounds so interesting! I’m glad it was a big hit…I’ll have to add it to my to-try carrot cake recipe list.

  21. WOWIE…your Tropical Carrot Cake is absolutely beautiful! I’ve made this same recipe as well, and loved it! The fondant carrots truly stick out to me, eye-catching and perfect!!! Just beautiful!

  22. that cake is adorable!

  23. Hi Annie, lovely cake! As to why Carrot Cake is popular around Easter, I think it might have something to do with its alternative name of Passion Cake? The Passion being, of course, the Christian Holy week, or Passiontide. I haven’t been able to track down a definitive answer, however, so I could be wrong……………….

  24. Hi Annie,
    This has to be the cutest carrot cake I have ever seen. I would like to make this cake but I do not have any decorating tips at home. If I were to buy one for this what one do I need to purchase? Or do you have a reference on your blog you could refer me to? Thanks for your help, Annie. I do appreciate it. Happy Easter to you and your family!

  25. Hey Annie-
    Going to make this for Easter…
    Do you think the recipe is too heavy to make into cupcakes?? If not, what do you suggest as a baking time?

    • Hi Kathie,
      I think they would be fine as cupcakes. Or for a more simple version, you could make these that I previously posted. I know they work as cupcakes, obviously. But either version should work.

  26. Hi Annie….your carrot cake looks devine! I think carrot and coconut are my all time favorite cakes. I want to try your recipe but was wondering if you found it at all too sweet with the 3 cups of sugar in the cake and then the icing on top. Thanks so much! I always enjoy your blog!

    • Hi Dora,
      If I don’t like a recipe, I don’t post it so anything that makes the blog is good to me. Everyone has different thresholds for “too sweet” though, and I am not sure I’ve ever used that phrase. I guess you just have to try it and decide for yourself.

  27. This cake sounds divine. Please tell me where to find the cream of coconut. I’ve never heard of it before.

    • You can ask a store employee if you don’t know where to find something. In my store, it’s in the aisle with the mixed drink supplies.

  28. This is an awesome blog! I work full time, have two teenagers and am taking classes so I can apply for nursing school. I cannot fathom adding a blog to that schedule….you are my hero. 🙂

  29. Hey, I made this yesterday however the frosting was WAY runny. I couldn’t use a pastry bag even if I wanted too. Is is possible that the recipe calls for 2 lbs powdered sugar v. the 2 cups listed?

    • Gwenevere,
      No, the quantities are all correct. Plus, 2 lbs. of powdered sugar would make it more like cement than frosting. Did you use coconut milk instead of coconut cream? I have no idea why it would be runny.

  30. I made this recipe yesterday for Easter – it was fantastic! Consistency of cake and frosting was perfect! Thanks for another great recipe:)

  31. I made this cake for Easter and it was such a hit! I made the cake Friday night and decorated it Saturday. My husband has already requested this as his Birthday cake for September. The frosting came out so good although Cream of Coconut was more difficult to find that I thought. I checked the internet for suggestions on where to find it before I left and it was with the drink mixes at our store.

  32. Just made this today to take to a picnic, and it was delicious! I didn’t run into any trouble with the frosting, and thought it balanced out the sweetness of the cake really well. I only have 8″ cake pans, so it ended up being a *four* layer cake, which is apparently too tall for my cake keeper (read: colossal tower of cake)! But made for a very impressive presentation 🙂 Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely make it again!

  33. Hey Annie-

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to get back to me with my cupcake question.

    When I realized this was a 3 tier cake (my favorite) I ditched the cupcake idea. The cake was FANTASTIC! I decorated the sides with some crushed macadamia nuts….such a show stopper.

    As always thanks for sharing!

  34. omg, this looks amazing.
    did you ice the cake yourself?
    what tips did you use?
    this looks so damn good!!!
    love it

    • Hi Nisha,
      Yes, I decorated the cake myself. The carrots are made of fondant. I just used a star tip (unlabeled) for the rest of the detailing.

  35. Hi Annie….Just stumbled onto your blog and made the Strawberry Margarita Pie. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow. I bookmarked you for future reference!! Now I’m just “browsing”….this ckae looks beautiful…and delicious! Cook’s Country had a Tropical Carrot Cake recipe a few years ago with a pineapple cream cheese frosting. Oh. My. Goodness. The frosting was amazing! Totally amazing. Here’s the link if anyone is interetsed: http://www.cookscountry.com/article.asp?articleid=1167&bdc=14004#4116.

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