This chocolate carrot cake is perfectly moist and spiced, it’s topped with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting making it the perfect snacking cake for Easter or any time of the year. The cake mix is quick to whip together and it’s even better made ahead of when you need it!
This time of year the sun starts shining more and everything comes back to life for the beginning of spring. We love it! This chocolate carrot cake is super easy to whip together and is packed full of flavour. It’s just the sweet snack we need around Mother’s Day and Easter! Talking about Easter our Chocolate Hot Cross Buns are to die for.
There's something comforting about the balance of flavours in this cake, it's reminiscent of a carrot cake but amped up with cocoa powder and chocolate chunks throughout the mix. We do not apologise for the double dose of chocolate with the cream cheese frosting, the perfect medium for white chocolate. If you love cream cheese frosting you'll love our Tiramisu Cake!
If you’re like us and love cream cheese frosting, you need this chocolate carrot cake in your life and you need to check out our maple pecan banana bread, which is also life changing! Or if you are after something a little simpler try these Chocolate Cornflake Cakes.
Don’t forget to leave us a comment and rate the recipe, we love hearing from you.
Why you need to make this
If you need more reasons to make this delicious chocolate carrot cake here they are:
Easy - once all your ingredients are out and ready to use, this recipe is simple to follow and the cake mix is really quick to produce - in under 15 minutes you can be placing it in the oven. Nothing complicated or faffy.
One bowl - carrying on from being easy, this is a one bowl carrot cake kind of gig, we want things simple. It’s easy enough to make, but even easier on the clean up. To make this in one bowl just add the dry ingredients on top of the wet mix and gently fold in.
Moist - we want moist carrot cake, and this chocolate version provides that. Using oil helps with this but the star ingredient of carrots is what creates this wonderful texture.
Frosting - as with most cakes, we want the right balance of flavour in the frosting. The cream cheese frosting for this chocolate carrot cake is spot on; light, fluffy and whipped up in a moment, then flavoured with white chocolate which balances out the spices and dark chocolate in the cake.
The ingredients you need for this easy chocolate carrot cake are readily available, this is what you’ll need:
Oil - instead of butter we’re using vegetable oil, it really helps keep the moisture in the carrot cake and also means that you can avoid messing around with needing soft butter, especially if you live somewhere cold.
Sweetness - because we have a good amount of chocolate in this cake we want to ensure it is nicely balanced, you’ll need soft brown sugar for this.
Eggs - the eggs are important for a good structured cake especially when creating a moist texture.
Carrots - the centre focal point of this chocolate carrot cake is grated carrots. They add a lovely moisture to the texture of the cake.
Nuts - we love to use pecans in our chocolate carrot cake, but you can easily use walnuts which are more traditional, if you have an allergy you don’t have to use nuts at all.
Chocolate - we want to make this cake super chocolatey so you’ll need a dark chocolate bar or chocolate chips.
What spices are in carrot cake?
The origin of carrot cake is disputed but it seems it stems mainly from the European region. It is a very popular cake in Britain especially in spring and around Easter and a lot of recipes have many variations of spices. Most traditional recipes settle on including cinnamon, ginger and mixed spices. In our easy chocolate carrot cake the spicing is similar; cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and is perfectly balanced and ultimately heightened with a light touch of orange zest.
How to make it
Follow these simple steps to create this easy chocolate carrot cake
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest until well combined.
- Mix in the grated carrots until well combined.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and sea salt. (to make this in one bowl just add them directly on top of the wet ingredients)
- Whisk together the dry ingredients until a uniform colour.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, some flour lumps are fine as they'll disappear when folding through the pecans and chocolate.
- Stir through the chopped pecans and dark chocolate chunks until evenly throughout the mix.
- Pour the chocolate carrot cake batter into an 8 x 8 baking pan greased and lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 40-45 minutes until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out mostly clean with maybe the odd crumb.
- To make the white chocolate cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake, whisk the softened butter with the cream cheese until uniform in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar with the melted white chocolate and pinch of salt and whisk together until pale and light.
- Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top of the chocolate carrot cake and finish with chocolate shavings.
Here are some suggestions if you want to switch things up or substitutions for dietary reasons:
Zucchini - switch up the carrot cake with grated zucchini instead of carrot or do a 50/50 mix, just be sure to squeeze out the extra moisture if using zucchini. We haven’t had a chance to test this out, but if you do try it, let us know how it goes in the comments.
Layered - the cake domes into the centre of the cake, if you wish to make this a layered carrot cake then use a slicing knife or serrated bread knife to cut the cake in half around its equator, slather half the frosting in the centre and place the top of the cake back on and use the remaining frosting to top the cake.
Round - if you don't have an 8 x 8 inch square tin, or you'd prefer to make a round cake, you can use a 9 inch round cake tin instead.
Gluten free - you can easily make this cake gluten free by switching out the all purpose flour for a gluten free all purpose flour.
Dairy free - to make this cake dairy free you will need to use dairy free dark chocolate for the cake batter and use dairy free cream cheese, butter and white chocolate for the frosting.
Spices - feel free to mix it up with the spices. We feel like we nailed it with the balance of spices in this chocolate carrot cake, especially with the touch of orange zest. However, if you want to switch out the cloves with mixed spice or leave it out, that's up to you.
Don’t overmix - as with most cakes, we don’t want a heavy dense cake. Avoid this by whisking together the wet ingredients first then switching to a wooden spoon to fold through the dry ingredients.
Rest in tin - allowing the cake to rest in the tin before removing allows the cake to finish baking, it also helps with the texture and structure of the cake so it’s not going to break when you remove it from the tin.
Cool completely before frosting - unless you want to have your frosting melt on your chocolate carrot cake, make sure it is completely cool before frosting.
Make ahead of time - this cake works really well being made ahead of time, this allows the flavours to meld together and as it sits it becomes lovely and moist.
Yes, absolutely, this chocolate carrot cake can be frozen easily. We would recommend freezing the baked cake separately from the frosting. The cake can be frozen wrapped in cling film and stored for 4 to 6 months.
Yes, store in an air tight container for up to three months. We recommend defrosting the frosting in the refrigerator before using and when ready to use leave on the counter top for 20-30 minutes and whip with a hand held beater or stand mixer.
You can store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. If you want to store it for longer you can wrap tightly in cling film and freeze following the instructions above.
More tasty cake recipes
We hope you love this chocolate carrot cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting as much as we do! If you make it, be sure to leave a comment, rate the recipe and tag us on Instagram! We love seeing your creations!
Chocolate Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup vegetable oil, 120ml
- 1 ¼ cups soft brown sugar, packed, 250g
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 cups peeled and grated carrots, 280g
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 210g
- ½ cup cocoa powder, 60g
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped, 70g
- ½ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips, 70g
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and orange zest until well combined. Mix in the carrots until combined.½ cup vegetable oil, 1 ¼ cups soft brown sugar, 3 medium eggs, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, 2 cups peeled and grated carrots
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and fine sea salt.1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently fold in until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped pecans or walnuts and chocolate chunks.½ cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped, ½ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Start checking for doneness after 35 minutes - you want a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake to come out clean, it will also be springy to the touch. If it’s not ready, return to the oven and continue to check in 5 minute intervals. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Whilst the carrot cake is cooling, make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until uniform and well combined. Add the powdered sugar, melted white chocolate and salt and continue to beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides if needed.10 tablespoons cream cheese spread, 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, 3 cups powdered sugar, 50 g white chocolate chips, pinch fine sea salt
- Once cool, frost the top of the cake with the white chocolate cream cheese frosting. If desired, top with dark chocolate shavings to decorate. Makes 16 squares.