This incredibly moist carrot cake made with organic sweet carrots, brewed tea, chai spices and coconut is topped with brown sugar cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut flakes. Stunning and delicious, this carrot-chai-coconut cake makes for an amazing Easter brunch dessert.
Can you believe it’s almost Easter? I was just going through our schedule for the coming weeks and next Saturday is our church’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. Has it been a year already? I had grand plans for a bunch of Easter and spring themed recipes this month, but that didn’t happen. But hey, I’m squeezing in this cake recipe just in time, and I’ll see what I can do in the next couple of weeks.
And what a stunner this cake is, don’t you think? I am a person who’s on the fence when it comes to carrot cake. Don’t adore it, don’t hate it either. Give me a simple vanilla cake, a citrus infused cake or a fudgy chocolate cake and I’m all over it. But I never quite felt that primal pull towards carrot cake. Until now, that is. Until I made this beauty. My carrot chai coconut cake.
This is no ordinary carrot cake. It begins with the sweetest, most tender organic carrots nature ever created. I ate most of the grated carrots instead of actually putting them in the batter. Fresh, sweet carrots are so important in a carrot cake.
And this is no plain carrot cake (if there’s even such a thing). No, siree! When I thought about the flavors that I wanted in my carrot cake, my mind immediately went to my Indian chai spiced cake that I usually make. It is an absolute hit both in our home and with my readers. A rich, moist and decadent cake made with milk tea and chai spices, you must try it at least once.
So, I decided to flavor my carrot cake with freshly brewed black tea and chai spices like cardamom and ginger. I also added a bit of cinnamon for tradition’s sake. You can really play around with the flavors that you like, but my suggestion would be to not overdo it. Many times, I come across cake recipes that call for tablespoons full of cinnamon powder and ground ginger, and honestly, that doesn’t necessarily make for a good mouthful. In a spiced cake, the spices have to be there, but not there at the same time, if you get my drift. A hint, a light kiss, a little something extra are what spices must add to cakes and bakes. What do you think?
And oh, before I forget, I also tipped in a good measure of coconut flakes in the cake batter. The cake also has a hint of lemon zest because nothing goes better with Indian black tea better than a nice squeeze of lemon. The light citrus flavor is like a beautiful back-note that perfectly complements the tea and chai spices that we use.
Now when it comes to frosting a rich and moist cake such as this, cream cheese is the way to go. Why improve upon a good thing? Or can’t we? If you notice the color of my frosting, you can see that it is not pure white. That’s because this one has brown sugar in it. One of my pet peeves and the major reason I’m not a lover of bakery cakes is that the frosting is cloyingly sweet. I’m the annoying lady who scoops away the frosting and nibbles at the cake below. What a waste, right?
In my opinion, good frosting must complement a cake, not compete with it. When working with cream cheese, I love making it into a sort of cheesecake-like frosting most of the time. Not too sweet, with a bit of tang, smooth, creamy and dreamy. This recipe calls for just 5-6 tablespoons of brown sugar. Yes, you heard me. It makes a small amount, so I only frosted the top of the cake. If you want to frost the entire cake, double or even triple the recipe. If you really want a sweeter frosting, feel free to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to it. It will bulk up some more while still retaining the flavor of molasses in the brown sugar. Don’t over-beat a cream cheese frosting lest it collapses and you’ll need to keep adding more and more sugar. Ugh! Move away from the bowl when you see that it is creamy and slightly firm.
I also suggest making the frosting a day ahead. Once it has had time to chill in the refrigerator, the flavors will mellow out a bit and you can decide whether to add some powdered sugar or not. Even if you do, this recipe needs way less powdered sugar than traditional cream cheese frosting recipes. Once you try this brown sugar cream cheese frosting recipe, you’ll want to put it on everything or simply make it and eat it by the spoonful. So so good!
As a final touch, toast some shredded coconut and sprinkle over the cake. It perfectly complements the coconut in the batter and adds a nice texture. Did you know that toasting coconut is the next best smell to baking cookies or cakes? Or is it even better? Maybe it’s a tie. Life’s simply perfect when the most important thing you’ve got to decide is what smells best, cake or toasted coconut!
Imagine how beautiful this delicious two-layer carrot cake would look at your Easter or spring themed brunch soiree? Set out your pretty pastel plates, antique cutlery, a fresh pot of tea and you’re all set.
Spring is such a wonderful time. The promise of new life, sunshine and all things bright and beautiful. This cake is the perfect crown at your celebration.
Now that’s all said and done, this chai spiced carrot cake is really easy to make. The carrots do a great job at keeping this cake naturally moist and tender. Much like banana bread or muffins, once you have all the ingredients, it is just a matter of mixing the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, and then mixing them together to form the batter. Remember to line and grease your pans well so that the cakes come out clean, especially if you are going for the naked sides look.
This carrot cake is so moist, flavorful and highly addictive. We simply couldn’t stop eating and decided to share some with my hubby’s friends from work, or we’d up eating the entire thing in one go! I think I will be making it again for Easter though. Have you decided on your Easter cake? No? Well, look no further. Read on for my easy carrot layer cake recipe with brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
- All-purpose flour - 2 cups
- Baking powder - 1 tsp
- Baking soda - ¾ tsp
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Green cardamom powder - ¾ tsp
- Ground ginger - ¼ tsp
- Cinnamon powder - ¼ tsp
- Water - ½ cup
- Black tea leaves - 2 tsp
- Eggs - 3, large
- Brown sugar - ½ cup, packed
- Demerara sugar - 1 cup
- Oil - 1 cup (vegetable or coconut oil)
- Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
- Lemon zest - 1 tsp, heaped
- Carrots - 2 cups, grated
- Coconut flakes or shredded baking coconut - 1 cup, divided
- Unsalted butter - 4 oz, softened
- Brown sugar - 5 tbsp
- Cream cheese - 8 oz, softened
- Honey - 1 tbsp (or use 1 tbsp more of brown sugar, see Notes)
- Lemon zest - ½ tsp
- Powdered sugar - ¼ - ½ cup, optional
- Carrot-Chai-Coconut Cake: Grease and flour two 9" cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 deg.F.
- Sift the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Boil water and add the tea leaves. Cover and allow to steep while you prep the other ingredients. Strain the tea with a fine-mesh sieve before using.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugars till pale and creamy, around 2 minutes.
- Add oil, vanilla extract, lemon zest and strained black tea. Beat till combined.
- Tip in the dry ingredients and fold in with a spatula till just combined.
- Add grated carrots and ¾ cup of the coconut. Fold in gently to combine.
- Divide batter equally among the two prepared cake pans. Tap pans on the counter-top gently to remove air bubbles.
- Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes or till the cakes pass the toothpick test.
- Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife along the edges and invert the cakes onto the wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting: In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar on high-speed till the sugar almost dissolves in the butter. A few fine grits are fine, but it should be mostly smooth.
- Add cream cheese, honey and lemon zest and beat till thoroughly combined and frosting is fluffy.
- Taste and add additional powdered sugar if needed. I added almost ¼ cup of powdered sugar after the boys had a taste. Beat till sugar is thoroughly combined and frosting is fluffy but firm. Do not over-beat lest the frosting collapses and then you will need to add more sugar.
- Cover bowl with cling wrap and chill the frosting till needed. It can be made 1-2 days ahead.
- Decorating the cake: Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Add ⅓rd of the frosting and smooth on top with an offset spatula. Place the second layer on top. Add the rest of the frosting and smooth all over the top of the cake. Make swirls or pretty patterns with the spatula for a cool effect. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
- Toasted coconut: Spread ¼ cup of coconut on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 deg.F oven for around 10 minutes, gently tossing the coconut every 3-4 minutes till golden. Alternately, you can toast the coconut in a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring often. Once coconut starts to brown, it will toast very fast, so stir often and keep an eye on it.
- Storing: Store cake covered in the refrigerator. This cake also freezes well. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Try to incorporate lemon zest both in the cake batter and frosting. It goes really well with the tea and spice flavors.
3. I also decided to add a spoonful of lemon-flavored local honey to my frosting for an even more lemony flavor. If you do not have honey or don't want to use it, simply replace it with an equal amount of sugar.
4. Like I mentioned, this frosting is mildly but perfectly sweet. If you wish to have a more traditional cream cheese frosting, add more powdered sugar.
5. Double the frosting recipe if you would like to frost the sides of the cake as well.
Enjoy a huge slice of this beautiful carrot-chai-coconut cake and dream of spring and all things nice!
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Do you love carrot cake? Do you experiment with flavors? Do share.
Do try my chai and coconut flavored carrot cake recipe. This is one highly addictive carrot cake, the best I’ve had so far. Don’t forget to let me know how it turns out. I love hearing from you guys!
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