This carrot cake with caramel buttercream is the perfect Easter dessert! This carrot cake recipe is so moist and tender. It's made with vegetable oil instead of butter. It's spiced up with some cinnamon and nutmeg too. The frosting is a swiss meringue buttercream with a caramel sauce added to it. Plus, sandwiched between each cake layer is even more caramel!
Best Carrot Cake Recipe
This easy carrot cake recipe would taste amazing with home-grown carrots. Fresh carrots pulled from the garden are always the sweetest. Unfortunately, there's still snow on the ground here in New York and I had to buy mine from the store.
Don't worry though. The cake still tastes insanely delicious.
I couldn't wait until this summer to make this recipe. I needed it for Easter!
Though you could wait until Fall to make this recipe too. It has the warm flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. The beautiful golden color of the caramel. Can we just skip spring and summer and jump into fall? I'm totally joking, sort of. It's my favorite season and this cake completely reminds me of it.
The caramel was an awesome compliment to the carrot cake. Honestly, I think caramel goes perfectly with basically everything, especially a spoon.
I'll be honest though. I did not make the caramel. I grabbed some caramel sauce out of the ice cream aisle for the caramel buttercream and the caramel for the filling and the drip came from those individually wrapped caramel squares.
A little shortcut is well-deserved after whipping up a batch of swiss meringue buttercream. It's not a crazy amount of work, but it has several more steps than American buttercream has.
I also added some toasted pecans for garnish. Pecans are my very favorite nut. The husband isn't keen on them, so I didn't add them into the actual cake. One of my favorite parts of eating the cake was the pieces of roasted pecans on the top of the cake with the drizzle of caramel. Holy smokes. This could be my new birthday cake. I might have to retire the chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. It's a close call.
Other carrot cake desserts:
- Browned Butter Carrot Cake Blondies
- Cream Cheese Carrot Cake Cake Pops
- Peanut Butter Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
How to make carrot cake:
Carrot Cake with Caramel Buttercream
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 6 egg whites
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ¾ cup shortening
- 2 cups salted butter, room temperature
- 1 T. vanilla extract
- ¾ cup caramel sauce
- 13 oz. individually wrapped caramel squares
- 3 T. heavy cream
- 1 - 2 T. toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray nonstick cooking spray on three 8-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, add in the granulated and brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until combined.
- Add in the oil. Canola oil would also work. Mix on medium until combined.
- Add in the vanilla and the eggs. Mix on medium until the eggs are incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix on low until the flour is almost completely incorporated. Turn up to medium and mix for another 30 seconds.
- Add the carrots and stir until incorporated.
- Divide the batter into the cake pans evenly. Place in the oven for 33 to 35 minutes or until done. Place a toothpick in the center of the cake and if comes out clean or with moist crumbs it's done.
- Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely.
- In a double boiler, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the mixing bowl holding the egg whites and keep the water to a simmer.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved. This is when the egg whites reach about 160 degrees. I test to see if the sugar is dissolved by dipping my impeccably clean finger into the mixture and feel for grit.
- Pour into the stand mixer bowl and whip with a whisk attachment on high. The meringue needs to come to stiff peaks. If you turn the whisk upside down and the peak stands up, you've reached the stiff peak stage.
- Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined.
- Add the shortening and butter to the mixture all at once. Beat until it all comes together. It will thicken up at this point. If the mixture looks like it curdled, keep mixing. It will come back together.
- Add the vanilla and caramel sauce. Mix until combined.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add in the caramel squares and heavy cream. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat the intervals and stirring until it's creamy and smooth.
Assemble the cake
- Place a layer of cake on the bottom of the cake plate. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the cake. Drizzle 1 - 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce on top of the buttercream. Keep the caramel about an inch away from the edge.
- Repeat the steps with the next layer of cake.
- Add the last layer of cake on top. Pile buttercream on top of the cake and spread it evenly on top of the cake and begin to push the excess buttercream down the sides. Add more buttercream to the sides and spread it out until it's smooth.
- Add the leftover buttercream into a disposable piping bag with a 1M tip. Pipe swirls of buttercream on the top of the cake. Pipe shells around the bottom of the cake with the same tip.
- Place the caramel garnish into a disposable piping bag.
- Add the caramel along the edges of the cake. Let it drip over the edge. Once you're happy with the amount of caramel and the drip, place it in the fridge to set up.
- Remove from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Cut and serve.
(Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.)
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Graham @ Glazed & Confused says
Stop!!! This looks SO good.
I have a bit of a carrot cake obsession. It's one of those desserts that somehow seems fall and spring at the exact same time. Love that you added pecans and that delicious caramel to really make sure this was a fall cake! Amazing.
Thank you! I'm in a bit of a fall mood and want to add pecans and caramel to everything.
I don’t normally like carrot cake, but this looks amazing! Yum! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday. Hope to see you at the party next week!
Hillary Lindsey says
This cake looks amazing! I am going to try it for my cousins birthday. I did have a questions about the picture vs the recipe. Your picture shows a three layer cake not a two. did you divide the batter into three pans or make 1 1/2 of batter?
Thank you!! I just divided it into 3 pans.
Wow! This looks and sounds amazing! I'm loving the idea of caramel with carrot cake! Never done that before. Looking forward to trying it. Also, your photography is fantastic!
Hey, I’m curious .....the picture of your cake shows a three layered cake...yet your recipe states it as a two layer cake. Did you cut one of your cakes in half to make three layers? Or separate your cake batter into three separate pans? Also, how did you make such a perfect circle on top with the dripping caramel ? I’d love to know !
I just separated the batter into 3 pans instead of 2. You can either do 2 thick layers or 3 sort of thin layers. For the caramel, I added it into a piping bag and just carefully piped it around the edge of the cake.
Wow, this sounds like the best carrot cake ever!!
Made!! This cake was a hit!! Everyone absolutely loved it!!
Martha Ordon says
Made this cake!! It's absolutely amazing!! A huge hit!!! Thanks for sharing!!
Do you mean 2 sticks of butter for the buttercream, or 2 cups? I made it with 2 cups of butter and it taste like butter! I've added a lot more powdered sugar and caramel sauce, but I just can't get the butter taste to leave and the texture looks like cream butter. Cake taste great, but I will be scrapping off the icing and making my own.
I meant 2 cups. Swiss meringue buttercream isn't for everyone.
Kat (The Baking Explorer) says
Wow what a gorgeous looking cake!
Yum! Thanks for sharing this with us over at the Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop! I usually think of the classic cream cheese frosting with carrot cake, but I can totally get behind this 🙂
Roseann Hampton says
Looks delicious! This will be one of my features this Saturday at the Snickerdoodle link party!
Great - Happy Easter!
Oh my, this looks sooooooo decadently delicious! I'm thinking of making it for Easter. Thanks for sharing and have a GREAT week.
Hi Miranda, I’ve been drooling over this cake all over blog land! It is beautiful!
Came over from I Should Be Mopping The Floor
Babychaser @ mamasbrush says
Beautiful! I want to replicate this look with my husband's favorite banana nut cake with caramel frosting. 🙂 pinned it!
This is different . Thank you for sharing this recipe. I bake a great carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting, but this twist sounds terrific with the Caramel Garnish idea.
Pinning to mu Bundt Cake recipe board.
Yum, this cake is beautiful my husband will love it. I just pinned it.
Happy Easter, Kippi #kippiathome
Miz Helen says
Your post is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Thanks so much for sharing it with us and hope you have a very special Easter.
How did you manage to drizzle the caramel sauce onto the cake without melting the buttercream? When it was warm enough to be soft enough to drizzle, it melted the buttercream I was drizzling on. By the time I got to the outer caramel garnish, it was cool enough that it didn't melt the buttercream very much, but was too hard to be attractively drippy itself. It retained its piping shape and looked more like a snake than a nice, dripping sheet of caramel. Is there some trick I am missing?
Miranda C. says
Try popping the cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes to really chill the buttercream. It won't melt as quickly under the heat of the caramel. You can also try adding a tablespoon of extra heavy cream to the caramel to make it a little drippier. Hope this helps!