Chocolate Carrot Snacking Cake

A casual cake that matches up two dessert greats.

What’s this? A carrot cake that’s also a chocolate cake? When I first saw this recipe, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve made many a carrot cake but had never encountered one that added chocolate into the mix. But why not? It works wonderfully with zucchini cake and a carrot’s sweetness lends itself even better to such an application. And a snacking cake? Well, that just implies that you can eat a bit of this anytime you want to, and there’s nothing to not love about that.

This cake works so well. It tastes more like a chocolate cake than a true carrot cake, so it’s more along the lines of a “hidden vegetable” dessert than one where the produce really shines. If you take care to grate the carrots finely, you’ll barely even notice they’re there.

Rather, they just add a different kind of sweetness than pure sugar and a unique flavor and texture to this cake. If you didn’t know they were there, you probably wouldn’t immediately guess that they were.

And of course, as any good carrot cake should be, it’s topped with cream cheese frosting. That happens to be my favorite frosting, and I’ll eat it on any cake but it goes especially well with this carrot-chocolate combination.

It’s a casual cake, no piping bag needed. The key to making it a ‘snacking cake’ is to cut it into tiny serving squares, the kind you just might grab as you walk by and bite into without even grabbing a plate.

Chocolate Carrot Snacking Cake

Serves 8; 10 minutes prep, 50 minutes cook time

For the cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 cups carrots, finely grated and lightly packed
For the frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8x8-inch pan with butter or nonstick spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.
  3. To a medium bowl, add the sugars, oil, and vanilla and whisk thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking in between. Add buttermilk and whisk again.
  4. Dissolve instant coffee in boiling water, add to bowl and whisk once more.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and gently fold until just combined. Add carrots and fold again.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, 40-50 minutes.
  7. Let cake cool to room temperature before frosting.
To make the frosting:
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Increase speed and beat until smooth, taking care not to overtax.
  3. Frost cooled cake, and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food 52.