Mini Carrot Cakes with Buttermilk Glaze and Fluffy Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted on Apr 12, 2012

A little orange zest, caramel buttermilk glaze and whipped cream in the frosting make this a carrot cake lover’s dream

I’m not a huge fan of carrots, but if you throw in some other fruity flavors, then I’ll take the plunge.  Like, for example, this carrot cake – lots of crushed pineapple, coconut, pecans and orange zest.

And then, you add this hot caramel buttermilk glaze – brilliant!   As if that weren’t gilding the lily – a very light and fluffy whipped cream cinnamon cream cheese frosting is the crowning touch.  Hands down it’s the best carrot cake I’ve ever had.

Oh, if only I could take credit for being the genius who came up with this beauty. But I’ll fess up, I spied it in Bon Appetit a few years back, tweaked it just a little, and never looked back.  I’m not real big on regular cream cheese frosting – it always seems so, well, heavy.  So forgive me cream cheese frosting purists, I beat  some whipping cream into my frosting to make it fluffier and lighter.

This is like one of grandma’s secret recipes – one you’ll want to hang on to and pass along to future generations. So go, get busy and do yourself a favor – make this cake!  You can thank me later!

You can make this in 2  9″ round cake pans, or a 9 x 13 pan.  I normally make it in 2  9″ round pans and slice each cake into two layers to give you a 4 layer whopper.  For these mini cakes, I didn’t have mini cake pans or springform pans, so I baked the cake in a 9 x 13 pan, and used a 4″ round metal cookie cutter to make the small size, slicing each piece into two layers.  You can make a two layer mini cake or 3 layers like you see here.  This recipe will yield about 5-6  4″ size 3 layer cakes.

Carrot Cake with Buttermilk Glaze and Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground Saigon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, organic
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used lowfat, organic)
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola, grapeseed would be good too)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely grated peeled carrots (again, I recommend organic)
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice
finely grated zest of 1 tangerine or tangelo
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used lowfat, organic)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon Lyle’s golden cane syrup (original recipe calls for light corn syrup)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2  8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1  1 lb. box powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Saigon ground cinnamon (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, if using Saigon, it packs more of a punch, so you might start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more if desired)
1/4 cup heavy organic whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Brush a 9 x 13, or two 9″ round metal cake pans with canola oil, then add a few tablespoons of flour and rotate the pan to dust it with flour, tapping out any excess.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl together.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir the coconut, pineapple with juice, pecans and carrots just to combine.  This is optional, but I found it is much easier to blend in with the flour mixture using this method.  It also prevents over mixing the flour batter, which can result in a tougher cake.

Beat sugar, eggs, buttermilk, oil, orange zest and vanilla in a large bowl whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Fold in half of the flour mixture, and when nearly combined, fold in the remaining flour.  Fold in the carrot mixture just until combined.  Transfer the batter to your cake pan, and bake 30 minutes if using a 9 x 13 pan, about 25 minutes if using 9″ round pans.

Tent the cake loosely with foil.  Continue to bake until a tester inserted in to the center of the cake comes out clean – about 15 minutes longer, about 10 minutes longer if using 2  9″ pans.

Remove cake from the oven and place pan on a baking rack.  With a 6″ bamboo skewer, poke deep holes all over cake.

Now, prepare the glaze:

Bring the first five ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved.  Continue boiling and whisking often until the glaze is a deep amber color, about 3-4 minutes.  The glaze will begin to thin out when it’s almost done.  Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Careful, the mixture will bubble vigorously.

Spoon the hot glaze evenly over the entire cake.  Keep the cake in the pan and allow to cool completely on the baking rack.


If you want a nice, fluffy cream cheese frosting, it’s important to have your cream cheese and butter at room temperature.

Beat the cream cheese and butter on high in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, until it’s very light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, and incorporate with an off on pulsing motion. (This will prevent a powdered sugar disaster all over your kitchen).  Once combined, beat again on high speed until fluffy.  Add 1/4 cup very cold whipping cream and beat again until beautifully light and fluffy.

Spread your frosting on the cooled cake and enjoy!  Refrigerate the cake if not using right away.  You can make this cake 1 day ahead.  It will keep up to 3 days in the fridge, and still be very moist, thanks to the glaze.



  1. Yum! I love carrot cake, and the addition of whipped cream is genius!

  2. Oh I love how you tweaked this recipe! I love carrot cake but I love having a little dessert all to myself! This looks super moist and scrumptious. And thanks for the tip of adding a little whipped cream to your icing. What a great idea to make it light and fluffy! Beautiful photos! : )

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