Even though it’s been spring officially for a few weeks, here in Connecticut it’s just starting to actually feel like the season has changed. I think it’s safe to retire my winter jackets (or put them in a moving box, ahh!) and break out the ankle pants. I love this time of year, especially the bright forsythia bushes popping up, and can’t wait for everything to be in full bloom. I made this incredible carrot cake cheesecake for Easter dessert so I figured it is about time I share it with all of you. Easter may have been early this year, but this is a cake that can be enjoyed year-round, and I highly suggest you do just that. I know I always say everything is so delicious and everyone loves it – but for realz this time people, AH-MA-ZING!
Remember the Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake I made a few years ago? This is a similar take on a cake-cheesecake combination, but this carrot version is different because the cheesecake and carrot cake are baked simultaneously in the same pan, rather than just stacking together different layers. Gotta love any recipe that saves you a few steps! I’ve already professed my love for 6″ cakes, so again here I opted for a 6″ cake and then a handful of mini cheesecakes baked in this mini cheesecake pan. When making these, I actually layered the carrot cake and cheesecake batter, hoping to get a striped look, but after I cut into it I realized all of the carrot cake wound up on the bottom. I may have minored in chemistry, but I have no idea how this happened, haha! Oh well, the end result was still very pretty and the mini ones kind of maintained their layers, so I got a little bit of what I was going for. I was worried that baking the carrot cake batter as long as a cheesecake would dry out the cake, but it was SO moist and not dry at all. Maybe it was all those delicious fats dripping down from the cheesecake into the carrot cake while the baking happened? Again, no chemical explanation here, but really, really yummy results :)
I kept my carrot cake simple and traditional (my favorite) – very finely chopped carrots, no raisins or nuts, and lots of cinnamon. The top is covered with plenty of cream cheese frosting to help cover up any flaws or cracks on the top of the cheesecake and helps adhere a healthy dose of toasted coconut on the top. I just happen to love the look of toasted coconut on carrot cake, and the crunchiness is pretty great too, but feel free to leave it out if it’s not for you. If your favorite part of a carrot cake is the cream cheese frosting (myself included), then you’re going to love this cake because we’ve added an entire layer of cream cheese flavor with the cheesecake and also loaded some more on top just for good measure. The spicy carrot cake is perfect with tangy cheesecake and it makes for a beautiful dessert too!
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Yield: 1 6" cake + 6 mini cheesecakes, or 1 9" cake
for the cheesecake:
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
for the carrot cake:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb carrots, finely grated in food processor
for the cream cheese frosting:
3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sour cream
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted (if desired)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease your chosen springform pans with cooking spray (I did 1 6" + 6 mini, but you could also do 1 9" or 10" pan).
For the cheesecake, in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and flour until smooth. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat until just incorporated. Transfer batter to another bowl, set aside, and clean your mixer bowl.
For the carrot cake, in the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth and light, about 2 minutes. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the carrots by hand with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed.
Spread half of the carrot cake batter into the bottom of your prepared pan(s). Then dollop half of the cheesecake batter on top of the carrot cake layer in large spoonfuls. You don't need to swirl them together or anything, just keep it dolloped. Then dollop the rest of the carrot cake batter on top of that layer, and finish with the cheesecake on top. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top cheesecake layer out and tap the pan(s) on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. (Again, I didn't get distinct layers in my 6" pan when doing this, but I figured I would give you the instructions I followed just in case it works for you, and if not, you'll get a divided cake like I did that still looked great!).
Bake the mini cheesecakes for about 30 minutes, and the 6" or 9" pan for 60-70 minutes. If the top starts to brown, tent the top with foil during the last 20-30 minutes of baking. The cheesecake will probably crack due to the carrot cake inside, but that's why we have the cream cheese frosting - no worries. Careful not to overbake the cake - the top center part of the cheesecake should still be slightly soft and jiggly when you take it out.
Let the cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack in the pan. While it cools, make the frosting by first combining the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. Mix in the powdered sugar slowly and beat on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat again until well mixed. Toast the coconut flakes in a dry pan if you're using them!
When the cheesecake is completely cool, spread the frosting evenly on top and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before serving (minimum of 3 hours, maximum of 2 days in advance).