I love both carrot cake and chocolate cake, but for some reason couldn’t see the point of combining the two to make chocolate carrot cake. Why ruin a carrot cake with chocolate or vice versa? Misgivings aside, I finally tried a recipe for it.
Mrs. Fields Chocolate Carrot Cake
This old Mrs. Fields recipe is made with the usual carrot cake proportions. However, rather than the usual spices, it includes a half cup of cocoa powder. In the introduction, Mrs. Fields promises the cocoa is not overpowering and that the cake has the moist crumb you expect from good carrot cake. This was reassuring, because my main motivation for making this cake was that I’d become obsessed with brown carrot cakes (as opposed to very orange ones) and didn’t necessarily want chocolate flavor.
So I’ll zip right to the results and tell you the cake was just the right shade of brown. And as Mrs. Fields promised, the chocolate flavor was very subtle. It made me wonder if maybe the secret to dark carrot cakes like the ones served at restaurants is cocoa powder. After all, if the taste is subtle with 1/3 to 1/2 cup, then it would be really subtle with a smaller amount.
In conclusion, I am now determined to try more carrot cakes with cocoa powder. After making this one, I found Chef Scott Peacock’s recipe, which uses a tablespoons of cocoa powder and a full tablespoon of cinnamon. As much as we loved the Mrs. Field’s version, I’ll have to try the 1 tablespoon cocoa version for comparison.
Update: In my quest for dark brown carrot cakes, I tried a carrot cake made with honey — Divorce Cake. The Divorce Cake was exactly what I was looking for. The honey plus the baking soda contribute to its lovely shade of brown.
Chocolate Carrot Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 10 oz
- 2 cups granulated or raw sugar 14 oz
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 4 large eggs
- 3 sticks 12 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 small can crushed pineapple in juice undrained
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 2/3 cup toasted walnuts optional
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz cream cheese softened
- 4 oz 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar plus more if desired
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup or sweetened flaked coconut optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9×2 inch round cake pans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in the butter and the vanilla.
- Using a large scraper, gradually stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Once the flour is blended, stir in the carrots and crushed pineapple. Add nuts (if using)
- Divide cake between the pans and bake for about 35 or until the tops are brown and spring back when touched. Let cool before removing from pans.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar, scraping bowl often. Beat in the vanilla. Taste test, and if the frosting is not sweet enough for you, add more sugar. If desired, add the coconut.
- I like adding the coconut to a portion of the frosting and using that portion in the center only.
- Frost the cake with the cream cheese icing.