This is not your ordinary carrot cake; it’s so much better. Whenever we served it in the store, our customers would go crazy over it. This is sure to be the best carrot cake you’ve ever made.
Carrot cake is a great variation of the typical vanilla cake, and now you can make it different ways with a carrot cake mix or even a vanilla bean cake mix. Learn how to use a cake mix to make carrot cake and the different ways we like to make it at Prepared Pantry.
Making the Carrot Cake Base from a Mix
Start out with a cream cake mix. The cream cake mix will make your cake light and fluffy but moist and dense like a pound cake. Add grated carrots, cinnamon, and nuts and you have a traditional carrot cake. Add cinnamon chips, coconut, candied ginger, or pineapple to make scrumptious variations. Bake them as carrot cupcakes or a sheet cake.
While you can use most carrot cake recipes to make these variations, the original made with our Vanilla Bean Baby Cakes Mix is very good plus quick and easy.
Notes to Consider: Be sure to use whole carrots and grate them finely in your kitchen. Getting the package of grated carrots will leave your carrot cake chunky and lumpy. Also, be sure to use a cream cake mix as your base—not any ordinary cake mix or even the ones that claim to have pudding in the mix at the store, it’s not enough. Without a cream cake base, the carrots, nuts, and other goodies you decide to add in will sink straight to the bottom rather than being incorporated throughout the cake.
But the real killer is the frosting. Everyone likes cream cheese frosting, but it’s dense and rich with the overpowering taste of cream cheese. Use the following light cream cheese frosting, and it will be light and dreamy. The whipped cream makes the frosting light and fluffy, it’s less caloric, light and fluffy and not nearly as rich. It’s the best frosting that you can put on a carrot cake, and it’s a recipe you won’t want to forget. Go ahead and print it out, so you can keep it handy.
Use this as an all-purpose frosting. Keep it in your drawer and use it often.
The Original Carrot Cake Recipe
- 1 Vanilla Bean Cake Mix
- 3/4 cup grated carrots
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 cup nuts
Light Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 four-ounce package of cream cheese (or 1/2 of an eight-ounce block), softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix cake batter in your stand-type mixer, per package instructions.
- Add the 3/4 cup grated carrots, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 3/4 cup nuts to the cake batter. Mix just until combined.
- Spread the batter in a greased or parchment-lined 9 x 13-inch cake pan and bake for 23 minutes at 325 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove the cake (if you are using parchment paper) and transfer it to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting:
Cream the granulated sugar with the cream cheese. Add the other ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.
Make Carrot Cake Five Ways
Use our mix or your favorite carrot cake recipe. Follow the directions either in your recipe or above and make the changes outlined below. (You may omit the nuts above, but we like nuts in this cake.) The candied ginger carrot cake is my personal favorite, but try them all to find which you like best.
Cinnamon Chip Carrot Cake
Make the cake exactly as above but add one cup of cinnamon chips. Reduce the cinnamon to one teaspoon.
Coconut Carrot Cake
Make the cake exactly as above but add 3/4 cup of shredded or flaked coconut. Pack the coconut in the measure. Add one to two teaspoons of coconut flavor, to taste, to the frosting.
Other Carrot Cake Variations
- Candied Ginger Carrot Cake: Make the carrot cake exactly as above but add 3/4 cup small candied ginger pieces.
- Pineapple Carrot Cake: Drain a can of crushed pineapple, reserving the juice. Replace the water in the above recipe with the juice. Fold in 3/4 cup of well-drained pineapple.