Small carrot cake with caramel cream cheese frosting is a one-layer cake for Spring and Easter!
First things first, did you know: I have 5 different sizes of small carrot cake on this site?
-this single layer carrot cake made in a 8x8” pan
-my 6” small carrot cake
-my carrot cake for two made in ramekins
-a healthy carrot cake made in a mini muffin pan
-and of course, a small batch of carrot cake cupcakes
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 8x8-inch single-layer carrot cake. (A 8x8-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!
Small Carrot Cake with Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting
Small carrot cake (single layer) with caramel cream cheese frosting.
- ½ cup neutral oil (like canola or grape seed)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the caramel cream cheese frosting:
- ¾ cup caramel bits
- 8-ounces of cream cheese, softened
- ½ 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, 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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 674Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 546mgCarbohydrates: 89gFiber: 1gSugar: 71gProtein: 7g
Probably the best carrot cake I ever made! Just removed the pineapples and cooked for 15 mins longer because I put it in a round tin. Delicious
Belva Brown says
curious -- what if I wanted to add golden raisins and pecans. Would I have to make an adjustment to the other ingredients?
Christina Lane says
Hmmm...I think the pecans are totally okay, but the golden raisins I do worry about because they have some moisture to them. Add them, but dust them with flour before adding to the batter, ok? And let me know how it goes :)
Hello again & thank you for yet another perfect 10 recipe! As always, I made some changes that may help other who like to make things their own: I swapped carrot for zucchini. I grate it over paper towels & squeeze out the excess moisture because moisture is what causes this cake to fall. I didn't have crushed pineapple on hand but I had canned pineapple chunks so I zipped it in my Vitamix for literally 2 seconds. Perfect! If someone had a blender vs a Vitamix or even a food processor, that would also work. I strained the liquid in my pineapple by spooning into a fine mesh (metal) strainer placed over a bowl. I reserved the liquid for future use. I used 1/2 dark brown sugar, 1/2 white sugar. I like the rich depth brown sugar brings. As mentioned in the recipe above, any neutral oil will work. I used canola. I used a full tsp of vanilla & a tablespoon cinnamon. I did not add the cream cheese frosting because 1) dairy doesn't like me & 2) powdered sugar hurts my teeth. I topped my (first) piece of cake with a couple spoonfuls of pineapple juice mixed with applesauce. SO DARN GOOD! Though upon consumption (for science purposes, of course) of a second piece, I found the cake was perfect on it's own & didn't need frosting or applesauce. This was very easy to make & the cake came out very moist like carrot cake should. My cake is perfect & only a trained eye looking at the cake from the side can see the tiniest (shot glass circumference size) spot where the cake "fell". The top is nearly straight across, so no big center pit! Perfect for frosting should you chose to go that route. Thanks again Christina for another delicious kitchen delight. Happy Easter!
This Carrot cake is absolutely DELICIOUS. It's so light. Making it without a mixer, I feel, contributed to it. I made an Orange Cream Cheese Frosting - I added vanilla, orange extract, and orange zest. I also used powdered orange food coloring till it was a light orange. Simply Heavenly. Perfect for Easter.
Hi is it possible to put the batter in a round pan instead of a rectangular one? If yes, wht shld be the size of the pan? Thanks.
Christina Lane says
Hi Becky! I haven't tried that, but I think my neighbor did it and it worked great. 8" round cake pan, not 9" :)
Made this tonight and hubby LOVED IT! I'm not a fan of carrot cake, but I liked this, probably because of the addition of pineapple. The caramel cream cheese frosting is AMAZING!
Melanie Cowart says
Don’t like caramel. So, I used the cupcake cream cheese frosting. Worked beautifully and my cake didn’t fall in the middle. Must have been the old 8x8 pan I used. Thanks for great recipes!
I loved this recipe and it was a huge hit with my family (and me!!). I had a bit of trouble melting the caramel bits. Do you have more specific microwave instructions? I put it in on power level 8 for 1 min to start and it came out smelling scorched but not all melted. I then returned it at 1 min intervals at level 5 which worked better but it really never did melt completely smoothly. Thankfully it didn’t taste scorched. Also, it set almost immediately on the frosting and I couldn’t swirl it. A bit disappointing to look at but just closed my eyes and dug in!
Christina Lane says
Hi Carol! The back of the caramel bits bag has melting instructions.
Hi , Has anyone try Werther's original soft caramels for caramel's bits. again my store was out ,
Christina Lane says
Are they super soft and chewy at room temperature? I bet that would work! Test out melting just a few in the microwave so you don't ruin the whole bag if you don't. Sometimes, candy has a chemical in it to prevent melting during travel.
Liz White says
Have you tried substituting unsweetened apple sauce for oil? Thanks!
Christina Lane says
I haven't, but I do think it would work. Just make it once before serving to company, in case the extra liquid in the applesauce causes the cake to sink.