Coconut Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake is one of my all-time favorites ( it was even our wedding cake!) and with Easter around the corner, I thought it was it about time that I finally whip up a carrot cake recipe for my site!

This one is moist and full of spices, along with flaked coconut and coconut oil for a hint of coconut flavor.  I always associate coconut cake with Easter and spring in general, so this felt like the perfect mashup.   I played around with using coconut extract to make the flavor more pronounced, but I just couldn’t get over the artificial flavor. Instead, I went with almond extract, which complements the coconut flavor without going overboard.  I like my carrot cake with a lot of “goodies” – so I also add a big handful of golden raisins to the batter. If regular raisins are what you have- feel free to use those!

The cake is topped with a simple cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with toasted coconut and lemon zest.  I like to spread the frosting over the cake leaving the edges bare so you can see a little bit of that beautiful carrot cake. It’s so easy to decorate this way and makes for a rustic cake that would be equally at home on a holiday table or on the counter as an afternoon treat. My kinda cake!

We’re hosting Easter at our house this year, and I’m still figuring out what else will be on the menu.  Maybe lamb? Maybe some kind of pork roast?  I’d love to know what you’re planning on making for Easter, Passover – or just to celebrate Spring!- in the comments below!

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4.47 from 13 votes

Coconut Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • Nonstick spray or butter, for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 1/2 pound trimmed carrots)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons/ 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon milk, as needed

For serving:

  • 1/3 cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes (see note)
  • Freshly grated lemon zest

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray or butter, then line the bottom with parchment paper and dust the sides of the pan with flour.
  • In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, eggs, coconut oil, and almond extract. Whisk vigorously for one minute, until the mixture lightens in color.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  Don’t over-mix. Fold in the carrots, flaked coconut, and raisins.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 to 33 minutes, until the center of the cake is just set and a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool completely in the pan, then invert the cake onto a serving platter, removing the parchment paper.
  • Make the frosting: Combine the butter, cream cheese, and almond extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or, you can use a hand mixer.) Beat on medium speed until just combined.
  • With the mixer on medium-low, gradually add the confectioner's sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary, until incorporated. If the frosting seems too stiff to spread, add 1 tablespoon milk and mix until smooth. (Do not over-mix!)
  • Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake, leaving the edges of the cake exposed, and top with toasted coconut (see note below) and lemon zest. Cut into slices and serve.
  • Note: To toast coconut flakes, heat them in a small skillet set over medium-low heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, tossing often, until golden brown, then transfer to a bowl to cool.
    Copyright 2023, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved.
11 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    Lidey, I doubled the recipe and made12 extra-large cupcakes. On top of each of them I stuck a yellow Peeps bunny into the frosting! The serving plate was scattered with Jelly Belly eggs. A lovely presentation for a cherished recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    OMG this cake was fantastic! Thank you Lidey! It was so soft, light, fluffy, fruity—it was perfect! I like how the almond flavoring comes through in the cake and the frosting. It was beautiful atop the cake pedestal. Our guests were impressed. It’s a simple and sophisticated recipe—a keeper for sure!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this for Easter for our family and it was incredible! So moist and flavorful – definitely a keeper. Thanks, Lidey!

  4. Made this for Easter lunch today and it is our new favorite cake! Everyone loved it. Perfectly moist, perfectly sized, perfectly delicious. Thank you for a great recipe! (Also, we are headed to Paris in a few weeks and have loved reading about your trip there 🙂

  5. Thinking about making this cake a day before Easter- do I put into fridge or can I keep it out?

    1. I would wrap the cooled (unfrosted) cake well with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight, then frost the cake the next morning and serve at room temperature!
      I hope that helps! Happy Easter! xox

  6. If you don’t like flaked coconut (consistency issue), can you omit it? Need to swap in something?

    1. hi Brooke! I haven’t made this particular recipe without the coconut but I would think you could sub finely chopped walnuts or pecans for the coconut, or up the raisins to 1/2 cup and just omit the coconut. Let me know how it goes!

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