Recipe of the Week: Carrot cake with cream cheese icing

By Cody Fitchett

I came across this recipe a couple months and I thought to myself, how can I make a carrot cake look gourmet and appealing to the average customer?

I took this average recipe and made it look like something you would find in a Manhattan bakery. I love this recipe because it’s straightforward and sure to impress. This is a fantastic recipe for Thanksgiving; it just screams warmth and comfort to anyone who takes a bite. Best wishes from my kitchen to yours.

Level of difficulty: Easy
Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Carrot cake

1 ½ cup Sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups of shredded carrots
¾ cup of chopped pecans

Cream cheese icing

1 (8) oz box of cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1 ¼ cup whole butter (not margarine)
1 tsp vanilla extract


Thin strips of carrot
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar, oil, eggs, and the vanilla extract. Mix just until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients in three batches. Mix in one-third of the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until incorporated.

Repeat the previous steps until it’s all mixed together (don’t over mix or the cake will be dense and dry).

Add the shredded carrot (* See Cody’s tip below on how to slice the carrots) and the pecans all at once and blend together.

Place cupcake wrappers in the muffin pans and pour the batter until the wrappers are three-fourth of the way full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 16-19 minutes, depending on the oven. Stick a toothpick in the middle of the cupcake and when it pulls out clean the cupcakes are done. Let the cupcakes cool for at least 30 minutes before piping on the icing.

Cream cheese icing

In the bowl of a **stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until well combined. Pour the powdered sugar in all at once and add the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer on medium high speed and let it incorporate for about 5 minutes (The longer the icing mixes the thicker it will become.)

Assembling the cupcake

Fill a piping bag with half of the icing and cut a half-inch off the bottom of the piping bag to create a smooth flow of icing. Starting at the bottom, pipe a steady flow of icing around the cupcake and continue onto the second and third swirl. (Pipe in the shape of a Christmas tree; starting big at the bottom and getting smaller as you make your way up to the third swirl).

Practice on a cupcake and if you don’t like the way it turns out, scrape the icing off with a butter knife and throw it back into the piping bag. This recipe is really forgivable. Repeat steps until all cupcakes are piped.

Top the cupcake with one slice of pre-shredded carrot and sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.

*Cody’s Tips: “I think that presentation is 50 percent of what sells a product. So always think about how you want to present your plate, either when it comes to a main course or the dessert that follows. People eat with their eyes.”

“I buy the pre-shredded carrots and just run my knife through them roughly so that you get a little carrot in every bite”

**If you don’t own a stand mixer, you can do this whole recipe with a hand mixer.

Cody Fitchett, of Fort Valley, is a recent graduate of Triplett Tech in Shenandoah County. He will start a four-year bachelor’s degree program in baking and pastry at the Culinary institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in February. Email him at

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