Small carrot cake with caramel cream cheese frosting is a one-layer cake for Spring and Easter!
My poor, poor husband. He’s thousands of miles away from this luscious carrot cake with caramel cream cheese frosting while I’m over here with my feet up eating it happily. Carrot cake is totally his jam, and I make a lot of it this time of year.
While we love warm mini carrot cakes with melted cream cheese frosting, we also love cold carrot cake right out of the fridge. This is one of those cold carrot cakes you sneak for breakfast with coffee.
I’m not sure how big your Easter celebration is going to be, but I’m guessing carrot cake is on the menu. While I already have a mini carrot cake for two on this site, I thought I would make you a slightly bigger one.
This isn’t your standard 3-layer carrot cake–which is super yummy but oh-so-much work; it’s a smaller 8×8-inch single-layer carrot cake. (A 8×8-inch pan is your standard brownie pan, friends.)
I’m not skimping on the frosting here. Just because it’s a single layer carrot cake doesn’t mean we can’t have mounds of frosting. And instead of cups and cups of powdered sugar in a standard cream cheese frosting recipe, we’re going to stir in melted caramel sauce. Oh yeah, baby. This will be your new go-to cream cheese frosting recipe.
I’m in love with the honey-hued frosting:
A few notes about this small carrot cake:
My version of carrot cake has pineapple in it. I hope that’s okay with you! My family can be purists about carrot cake and insist that it should not have walnuts, raisins, or pineapple. They love this version!
I should warn you that the cake is going to sink ever-so-slightly in the center as it cools. I’ve never met a carrot cake that doesn’t sink a tiny bit. Carrot cake is warm, spicy, and so very moist. In order to make a non-sinking flat or domed carrot cake, the texture of the cake would have to be altered to be too light and fluffy. That is just not carrot cake, my friends. Carrot cake is dense and moist, and that’s exactly the way it should be. My grandma’s carrot cake sank, and my grandkids’ carrot cakes will sink, too. It’s just the only way to do it.
So, grab your brownie pan, a handful of carrots and caramels, and make this small carrot cake. Tell me it isn’t the most delicious carrot cake you’ve ever had!
- 1/2 cup neutral oil (like canola or grape seed)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the caramel cream cheese frosting:
- 3/4 cup caramel bits
- 8-ounces of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350, and line a 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper on all sides (see photo for reference).
- In a large bowl, stir together with a wooden spoon (do not use a mixer) the oil and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, pineapple and carrots.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon.
- Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet, and stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 33-36 minutes, until nicely golden brown and starting to pull away from the edges.
- Let the cake cool--it will slightly sink in the middle, but it's fine.
- As the cake cools, whip together the frosting: melt the caramel bits in the microwave with a splash of water. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the caramel and vanilla.
- Frost the cake with the caramel cream cheese frosting, and serve.