Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


Super-sweet cakes are definitely not my cup of tea. Ever since I was a little girl I have disliked overly sugary desserts. Often times I would refuse birthday cake and opt for plain ice cream. Of course these days I’m a little more polite. I’ll eat my share of sickly-sweet treats; but give me a perfectly sweetened dessert and I’m much happier.


The frosting is another hang-up. Gobs of powdered sugar + only a tiny bit of butter = disgusting, in my book. To balance out the sweetness, frosting needs a good measure of fat, whether it be in the form of butter, cream cheese, cream or peanut butter.


Here I give you (what I consider to be) one of the best types of cakes: Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. The actual cake doesn’t taste like sugar fluff; it has flavor and a bit of spice and it’s nice and moist. The cream cheese in the frosting makes it pleasantly tangy and the maple syrup and vanilla give it a lovely flavor.

What do you think? Do you prefer your desserts with less sugar, or do you have a major sweet tooth?


In keeping with my lower sugar preference, I cut out some of the sugar both in the cake and the frosting. If you have more of a sweet tooth than I do, you can go ahead and put in the full amount of sugar.

Of course I had to use half whole-wheat flour.

The original recipe called for nuts, but since Reuben prefers his desserts without them, I only put them on top.

Because I have always wanted to try it, I halved the recipe and baked the cakes in two 6-inch pans. I have provided the full-sized recipe below, but if you want to make a cute cake, just cut everything in half and bake in smaller pans.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Printable Page | Makes 10-12 servings

Adapted from The Joy of Baking and Smitten Kitchen


For the Cake:

  • 3/4 pound raw carrots (preferably organic), peeled and finely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably ww pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled, or any other flavorless oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Cake:

1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3) Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the eggs until frothy, about a minute. Slowly add the sugar & beat until thick and light colored, about 3-4 minutes. Add the oil in a slow steady stream. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the grated carrots.

4) Equally divide the batter between the two prepared pans (I weighed the batter for precise measurement). Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

5) Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool, in the pan on a wire rack, for about 5-10 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

1) Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.

2) Sift the powdered sugar over the cream cheese/butter mixture and mix until well combined. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and beat until combined.



26 thoughts on “Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. I’m with you, I don’t care for overly sweet desserts. When I bake, I pretty much always cut back on the sugar and/or use a substitute, like honey or maple syrup. I’ve been wanting to make a carrot cake for a while now, but keep forgetting to look up a recipe. Now I have one!

    One question. I agree with you on the frosting, too much sugar! I like your recipe, but don’t care for cream cheese. Any ideas on something I could substitute it with? I can’t seem to think of anything myself, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. 🙂

    • Sereina: Could you make a whipped cream frosting? My grandma makes it by mixing in a little bit of gelatin dissolved in hot water and sweetening it a bit with powdered sugar + flavoring it with vanilla extract. Another option would be Swiss Buttercream…perhaps flavored with coffee? 🙂

  2. The cake looks soooo good. Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are two of my most favourite dessert elements so combined just sounds like heaven. I appreciate the added notes on sugar because I always find recipes using far too much and end up trying to cut some of it out. Beautiful photography and great recipe. Will definitely have to try sometime

  3. Oh… After looking at several carrot cakes these few weeks, all I could think of was carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting… Never did i think Maple would change everything… Carrot Cakes are supposed to have a texture, this is one great recipe!

  4. This is great. It looks amazing and the carrots mixed with maple cream just give it an amazing flavor. It’s not that sweet, which from my point of view, makes it briliant.

  5. I like few very sweet desserts. And only a few tablespoons. I´m never interested in eating cupcakes because of the sugary frosting that always is too much for the amount of cake.
    I never tried carrot cake with coconut oil; that must be very good! I don´t even know if I can get coconut oil around here. Great recipe.

  6. What a lovely looking cake! We happened to make a carrot cake last week end for Easter, but ours was gluten and dairy free. Will have to post our recipe sometime!

  7. I definitely have a sweet tooth, but like you, I don’t care for overly sweet desserts that taste so sweet that they almost taste ‘fake.’ I cut back on the sugar in recipes fairly often and have realized that things are usually just as yummy without that ‘extra’ sugar. 🙂 But there are days that I don’t cut back on the sugar and just go all the way with a recipe. I guess it depends on my mood! 🙂 This recipe looks delicious! I love cream cheese frosting and a good carrot cake. Thanks for posting! 🙂 Hope you had a Happy Easter!

  8. Since I was 5 years old, I requested carrot cake with cream cheese icing for my birthday 🙂 This looks wonderful! I, too, usually cut the sugar when I bake. Peace

  9. OHMYGOODNESS finally someone who shares my EXACT dessert and frosting thoughts! There have been so many years I didn’t eat my own birthday cake. In fact, now I just ask for pie instead. Pie I love, cake – not so much. I just can’t get down with the frosting thing.

    I love that you only frosted the layers and the top of your cake. That gives just enough frosting to sweeten/flavor the cake but not so much as to overwhelm it! Gosh this is gorgeous.

    As an aside to this already too-long comment, we served carrot cake at my high school graduation party. People went bonkers over that cake. For reals. My friends snuck pieces of it home. Carrot cake, for the win.

  10. Oh my goodness, this looks delicious! It’s so timely, too! I have been looking for a carrot cake with a twist. A few years ago I started making a carrot cake for my parents’ anniversary every year, – since they had carrot cake at their wedding – so I am going to save this to make in August. My mom especially will love that it includes pecan and maple flavors. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I saw this cake recipe a few days ago, and I made it for my family the next day. It was delicious! I love how moist it was, and the maple syrup in the frosting added a wonderful touch. It was gone by the next day! 🙂 I will definitely make this cake again, and next time I might add a bit more spice. Thank you for the recipe! Your pictures are beautiful, by the way!

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  14. I initially saw this recipe on Tasty Kitchen, and wow — so tasty. A perfect blend of flavors, not overly sweet, and I love the maple syrup in the frosting. I look forward to trying more of your recipes…off to look at them now!

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