Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting

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So I’m back in NYC after two gloriously relaxing weeks visiting the fam in St. Louis – hooray for holiday break and vacation days to use up!  I could have stayed even longer – ahh, the life of no responsibility – but I do have to say, it feels good to get back to my usual routine.  Not gonna lie though, I’d be happy to go without the return of work tomorrow!  Oh well, c’est la vie, right?

Before I left STL and between holiday festivities, I made sure to squeeze in some more baking time.  You didn’t really think that Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake was the only thing I whipped up while I was there, did you?!  That treat was for the sister.  This one’s for the dad.  And it comes with a back-story…

My dad e-mailed me a few weeks ago with a baking proposition.  One day last month, he was finishing up a working lunch with some colleagues when the dessert tray appeared at their table.  A richly dark, moist-looking cake immediately caught his eye.  Upon his asking, the waitress proclaimed it to be a “chocolate carrot cake.”  Now this was something Dad had never heard of before!  Intrigued and delighted, he ordered it on the spot and greatly looked forward to that first taste.

Much to his disappointment, said waitress later returned to inform him that his forthcoming dessert was actually a spice cake, not the carrot cake of his dreams. Well, poor Dad couldn’t get the thought of a chocolate carrot cake out of his mind, so he asked me (repeatedly) to bake one up when I came home.  And bake one up I did.  This version has cream cheese frosting, because that’s the way Dad likes it.

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My recipe for Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

3 cups grated carrots

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

Frosting:

12 ounces Neufchatel cheese

3 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together carrots, agave nectar, eggs, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool in pans.

While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting by blending together Neufchatel cheese, unrefined powdered sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth.  Once cakes cool, spread about a third of the frosting over cake #1.  Place cake #2 on top of cake #1.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

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Melty chocolate and carrot specks!

This cake was a huge hit around my house! The chocolate chips gave it some extra special chocolate sweetness and the cream cheese frosting was addicting!  I snuck a lot of licks from the bowl before it got to the cake.  You know, for testing purposes.  And though I made it for Dad, I think Mom may have liked it even more.  After a couple bites and some long, contemplative looks, she declared it the “best thing you’ve made yet.”  Don’t worry, I enjoyed some slices myself before she could polish it all off (j/k Mom, j/k).

What have you seen combined with chocolate that was somewhat surprising?

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46 Responses to “Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting”


  1. 1 FollowMyWeigh January 4, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    haha! your dad is funny =) and wow that is seriously a great idea – chocolate carrot cake!!! i never heard of that either. and chocolate spice cake is not the same~ glad your family enjoyed it so much!

  2. 2 Sharon January 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Your dad is awesome! It looks scrumptious and is a great combination. It looks soo moist and scrumptious! Love it!

  3. 3 Amy January 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Yum! How cute that your family is asking you to cook delicious things for them. I’ll have to keep my eye out for some requests to send your way 🙂

  4. 4 Hayley January 4, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Yet another recipe I need to try! 🙂

  5. 5 erica January 5, 2009 at 1:05 am

    carrot cake AND chocolate.. my two favorite things in one cake. I’ve got to try this recipe out asap!

  6. 6 Amira January 5, 2009 at 1:14 am

    that looks de-lic-ious! love the back-story by the way, that’s so cute. I once knew someone who ate carrot sticks dipped in chocolate though that’s not really a recipe it’s pretty weird right?

  7. 7 VeggieGirl January 5, 2009 at 7:57 am

    WELCOME BACK, ASHLEY!!! Love your dad’s baking proposition 😀

    The weirdest/most surprising combination I’ve seen with chocolate are those bacon-chocolate bars… um, not enticing, haha 😉

  8. 8 Andrea [bella eats] January 5, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Yummmmmmmmmmmm!!! Ashley, you kill me! I love all of your recipes. My co-worker’s favorite cake is carrot cake, its what we got him for his birthday last year. I am definitely going to be trying both this version and your yogurt-glazed version out on my office!

    The strangest thing I’ve seen combined with chocolate is chocolate-covered potato chips. There is a company that makes them in the town where my mom and stepdad live and they are always a gift at christmas time! They are actually really good, perfect combo of sweet and salty. 🙂

  9. 9 Mel January 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I am so sending this to my mom right now. She loves carrot cake and I know would love this! Thanks for sharing!

    I have a friend that loves to mix chocolate and bbq sauce. It sounds odd but she swears by it!

  10. 10 ttfn300 January 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    i’m with veggie girl on the chocolate covered bacon. but chocolate carrot cake??? oh my…

  11. 11 Raspberry Runner January 5, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    chocolate carrot cake sounds incredible! i actually tried a sample of some dark chocolate with pieces of bacon in it at a local organic grocery store, and it was pretty good! a sweet and salty sensation 🙂

  12. 12 sweetandnatural January 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    FollowMyWeigh – My dad is quite the jokester, but he was all business about this cake! 😉

    Sharon – Aww…you’re going to inflate his ego!

    Amy – Definitely let me know if you have any recipe ideas!

    Hayley, erica – Let me know how you like it if you do!

    Amira – Carrot sticks and chocolate?! Interesting?

    VeggieGirl, ttfn300, Raspberry Runner – I didn’t realize chocolate covered bacon was such a widespread delicacy!

    Andrea [bella eats] – You’re too kind! Can’t wait to see what you think of the recipes. Chocolate covered potato chips – I could see that. Sort of like chocolate covered pretzels, which are delish!

  13. 13 Bridget January 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Wow, that cake looks amazing! I’m trying to imagine what it tastes like, and I’m probably just going to have to try to make it soon to find out!

  14. 14 Kristie January 6, 2009 at 12:16 am

    What an INCREDIBLE variation on the standard carrot cake. I will HAVE to try this some day asap. I’m just about to head off to la la land right about now but seeing this makes me practically want to jump out of bed and get baking right away.

  15. 15 Bridget January 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Before I even read the post that picture made me say “oh my god that looks good” (in my head of course…I’m at work hehe). What a simple yet so ingenious idea!!! YUM!!!!!!! Actually come to think of it I have made chocolate zucchini bread/cake so I guess this would make sense, but the cream cheese frosting really makes it dreamy! Your dad is funny, that would so be soemthing my dad would want too!

  16. 16 bobbi January 6, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I am going to EAT my screen!!!!

  17. 17 Mariposa January 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    i love love love love this!!! no coconut! lol 😉

    it looks amazing!!!!

  18. 18 Meghann January 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    OMG YUM! That cake looks great!! 🙂

  19. 19 HangryPants January 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Well you did a great job coming up with this one for your dad!

  20. 20 Hayley January 6, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Don’t you love baking for your Dad? There’s something about him loving your every creation. Love the carrot cakes you’ve been posting.

  21. 21 Joie de vivre January 6, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Oh wow. That sounds amazing!

  22. 22 Miss Marie January 6, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Mmmm. Mr. Beagle loves carrot cake and I love chocolate. This looks like the best of both of our favorites!

  23. 23 Pearl January 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    oh that cake looks SO moist and delish! what does carrot cake taste like? Does it have the taste of carrots?

  24. 24 sweetandnatural January 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Bridget – It pretty much tastes like a chocolate cake to me. My sister said it reminded her of a German chocolate cake. Whatever it was, it was yummy!

    Kristie – Let me know if you try it once you’ve woken up! 😉

    Bridget – Cream cheese frosting is amazing – I’m just now really realizing that. And dads are funny, aren’t they? At least they think they are… 🙂

    bobbi – So the photo turned out ok?! 😉

    Mariposa – Haha, just for you!

    Meghann, HangryPants, joie de vivre – Thank you all! So nice!

    Hayley – I do love baking for my family! It’s one of my favorite things to do while visiting them.

    Miss Marie – Perfection! 🙂

  25. 25 eatingbender January 7, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    I love the story with your dad! My dad is a big fan of carrot cake, but I doubt he’s ever tried it with chocolate before! This is a great recipe – you are amazing in the kitchen!

    I agree with VeggieGirl and Shannon – I saw those bars at Whole Foods and thought, “what the heck?!”

  26. 26 Jessica January 8, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I was drooling over the picture before I even realized what it was. I love chocolate cake and carrot cake with cream cheese icing so this would be perfect for me! I will definitely have to try it.

  27. 27 sweetandnatural January 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    eatingbender – I had never heard of it either, but it made perfect sense to me! 🙂

    Jessica – Let me know what you think if you do!

  28. 28 Meg January 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I love carrot cake! What an amazing recipe!

  29. 29 hareandtortoise January 13, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Copying everyone else, but… that cake looks amazing!

  30. 30 alice January 16, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Oh yum, that looks delicious!

  31. 31 sweetandnatural January 16, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Meg, hareandtortoise, alice – Thanks ladies!

  32. 32 Shannon January 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    WOW!
    This looks absolutely delicious!!!
    I can’t wait to try it!!!
    One of my clients who’s favorite treat is carrot cake is going to be completely fooled by how healthy this is!
    Keep up the great bloggin’!
    This is going to my bookmarked blogs!

  33. 33 sweetandnatural January 18, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Shannon – Let me know what you think if you try it! Give us your client’s opinion too! 🙂

  34. 34 Jen February 10, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I stumbled upon your recipee and it looks yummy. I am thinking of making this for my SOn’s B-day but would like to do cupcakes, would I need to vary the cooking time at all, I’m not a baker if you couldn’t tell, lol!

  35. 35 sweetandnatural February 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Jen – Yay! You’ll have to decrease the baking time if you’re making cupcakes. I would estimate somewhere around 20 minutes, but keep an eye on them! If you poke a toothpick in the middle and it comes out dry, you’re good to go. Let me know how they turn out!

  36. 36 Sarah March 16, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I went hunting for a naturally sweetened cake with frosting recipe for a little celebration this past weekend for my husband’s birthday and our first child’s 100th day of life! My husband is a chocoholic so chocolate was a must! I found this and knew I needed to try it! It turns out he’s not a big fan of carrot cake, but… he REALLY like this and so did I, and so did our guests. Our baby, who knows? The cinnamon in the cake was a really nice touch, in his opinion, and it really ended up tasting just like a very moist chocolate cake. I think I would use less sugar in the frosting. I gave up refined sugar and corn syrup over a year ago and 3 cups made it almost too sweet for me. And my husband thinks the frosting would be outstanding with just a touch of cinnamon extract. We’ll have to try it! I’ve added your blog to my feeds and have been poking around. When you’re back, I’ll be back!

    Thanks for a creative and GREAT recipe!

  37. 37 sweetandnatural March 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Sarah – Thank you so much for the compliments on my cake! It was a big hit with my family, so I’m so glad to hear yours enjoyed it as well. 🙂

  38. 38 Shea June 22, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Hi Ashley-

    I made this cake over the weekend, and I’m having a problem putting the fork down.
    I have a question about the balance of chocolate and carrots – I’m having a difficult time pulling out the flavor of the carrots. Your baking experience far exceeds mine, so what’s recommended? More carrots? Less cocoa powder? Something completely different?
    Either way, I don’t think anyone’s going to gripe over it. 🙂
    Thanks for the great recipe and the great site!

  39. 39 Choupichen October 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Wow!
    Just the inspiration I was looking for!
    I have GOT to make a gluten-free version!

  40. 40 Hamannde January 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

    This was AMAZING! It’s so very moist and doesn’t taste healthy at all. I also couldn’t taste the carrots, which I like, because I hate carrots 🙂 I used normal whole grain wheat flour and I couldn’t tell it was whole wheat. Thanks for the super recipe!

  41. 41 Connie Ring Taunton December 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Looked awesome; could hardly wait- finally tried it, moist but dense. =/
    It doesnt rise at all. Only change I made was half the vanilla, (not a big fan) & regular choc chips, dont have the other.
    Not sure which type of agave you used, I chose light.
    I switched frostings to avoid the 3C powdered sugar but picked a poor recipe. Posted pic at my facebook page (its public).

  42. 42 ellebakes October 15, 2012 at 4:14 am

    yum! if i was to try and make this without eggs, how many eggs would I be substituting? Would it be 2 eggs or 4 eggs? Thanks 🙂


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