Mini Carrot Cakes with Candied Pecans
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Moist and mildly spiced, these adorable mini carrot cakes are effortlessly impressive and easy to make! Don’t skip crunchy candied pecans; they add fantastic texture to the cake!
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Carrot Cake Ingredient Notes:
- How to make this recipe:
- 1. Make the candied pecans
- 2. Make the mini carrot cakes
- 3. Make the cream cheese frosting
- 4. Assemble individual carrot cakes
- Tips for Success:
- Make-Ahead Tips:
- Storing Tips:
- Mini Carrot Cakes with Candied Pecans Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe:
These mini carrot cakes with candied pecans are divine! Moist, perfectly-spiced cake layers sandwich a tangy cream cheese frosting.
And if you’d like to make it extra special, add homemade pineapple curd in the center!!
- Texture: Tender cake layers that aren’t dense or heavy! Topped with velvety smooth frosting and crispy pecans.
- Flavor: Mildly spiced and perfectly sweet!
- Customizable: If you don’t feel like curd, skip it.
Individual carrot cakes are perfect for Easter, bridal, or baby showers. They’re the ultimate combination of beauty and decadence.
Carrot Cake Ingredient Notes:
- All-purpose flour – For the most accurate results, weigh the flour with a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, then level if off with the flat edge of a butter knife.
- Spices – Cinnamon and nutmeg give you that quintessential spice cake flavor.
- Carrots – You’ll need about 200g of carrots. I recommend grating the carrots into fine pieces, so you don’t bite into a big chunk of carrot. Avoid pre-grated carrots since they’re thick and dry.
- Greek yogurt – For moist, tender cake layers. For best results, use full-fat Greek yogurt. This isn’t the time to cut calories. You can swap with sour cream if you don’t have yogurt.
- Vegetable oil – Oil keeps the layers moist without making them too fragile to handle.
For the candied pecans:
- Pecans – Buy them pre-chopped or buy them whole and chop them with a sharp knife. Or you can pulse them in a food processor for a few seconds.
- Egg white – An essential part of candied pecans. The egg white hardens as it cooks, giving you a nice crunch!
- Sugar – To sweeten them. Brown sugar can be used in place of white sugar for a more caramel-like flavor.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Cream cheese – For the creamiest results, use full-fat cream cheese! Let it sit out at room temp for at least an hour.
- Butter – Opt for unsalted butter so you’re icing isn’t salty. It should be room temp so it mixes effortlessly with the cream cheese.
- Powdered sugar – For a silky smooth finish!
How to make this recipe:
1. Make the candied pecans
- Whisk the egg whites and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until nice and frothy. And add the chopped pecans and mix well.
- Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Transfer the nuts to the cinnamon-sugar mixture using a slotted spoon. Toss until the nuts are evenly coated.
- Spread the sugared pecans on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake the pecans, stirring and checking every 15 minutes, until the nuts are evenly browned and crisp, about 45 minutes.
- Cool the candied pecans completely. The pecans will harden as they cool. You can chop them up for smaller pieces.
2. Make the mini carrot cakes
- Whisk the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set them aside.
- Whip the eggs, oil, Greek yogurt, and sugars in a mixing bowl until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients and whisk just until no dry flour is visible.
- Fold in chopped carrots.
- Pour the cake batter into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and tap it a few times to remove air bubbles.
- Bake the cake until the top is golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Make the cream cheese frosting
- Whip the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 1 minute.
- Add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.
- Beat on low speed for a minute, then increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with the desired tip to pipe the frosting on the cakes.
4. Assemble individual carrot cakes
- Cool the sheet cake completely, then transfer it to a flat surface.
- Cut out 2-inch circles with a round cookie cutter (I use this cookie cutter set!) and place the cake layers onto a wire rack.
- Pipe a ring of icing around the edge on half of the cake layers to make bottom layers. Fill with pineapple curd.
- If you’re not using pineapple curd, spread a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese frosting on the layers, then top with candied pecans.
- Place the unfrosted cake layers on top of the frosted layers.
- Finally, spread more frosting on top and sprinkle with candied pecans.
- Make cake pops with the leftover cake scraps.
Tips for Success:
- Avoid pre-shredded carrots as they tend to be dried out.
- Grate the carrots into smaller pieces. Long strands of carrots aren’t appealing in a carrot cake. You can use a box grater if you don’t have a food processor.
- Don’t overmix the cupcake batter. The more you mix it, the more gluten strands form, creating a denser texture. For a soft and light crumb, only mix until incorporated!
- Allow the carrot cake to cool completely before cutting! Warm carrot cake is fragile and will fall apart easily.
- Mini carrot cakes can be made ahead and frozen! Or you can make the elements in advance and assemble them before serving.
- Bake and cut the cake layers, then freeze them on a sheet pan in a single layer. Once the layers are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container and freeze them for up to 3 months. Assemble while frozen.
- Candied pecans last for a week at room temperature or up to three weeks in the refrigerator. I like to make them at least one day before I plan to make these mini cakes.
- Store leftover little carrot cakes in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
- Freeze small carrot cakes for up to 3 months. Place them on a sheet pan or large plate and put it into the freezer. Once the carrot cakes are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container.
Yes, it’s best to peel carrots for carrot cake. The peel tastes bitter and dry, and it only takes a few minutes.
Carrot cake typically calls for oil instead of butter. The reason is twofold: it keeps the layers moist, plus they don’t dry out as quickly. Butter-based cakes, while delicious, dry out faster.
Mini Carrot Cakes with Candied Pecans
For candied pecans:
- 1 egg white
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (130 g) chopped pecans
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour Note 1
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg Note 2
- 3 medium carrots Note 3
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup (120 g) Greek yogurt at room temperature
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100 g) brown sugar either light or dark
- 1/2 batch pineapple curd for filling, if desired
- 8 oz (250 g) cream cheese at room temperature
- ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- If you're planning to fill the mini cakes with pineapple curd, make it first before you start making the cake.
To make the candied pecans:
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a silicone mat.
- In a small dish, mix the sugar, cinnamon and salt.
- Whisk the egg white and vanilla extract until nice and frothy, good 3-4 minutes. (Make sure the mixture is frothy, as pictured above.)
- Add the chopped pecans and mix well.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the nuts and toss the pecans with the sugar mixture until the nuts are evenly coated.
- Transfer the coated pecans onto a prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
- Bake the pecans, stirring and checking every 15 minutes, until the nuts are evenly browned and crisp, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, you can chop the candied pecans into even smaller pieces.
To make the carrot cake:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baker's half baking sheet with parchment paper and spray cooking spray all over the parchment paper and on the sides.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, mix together eggs, Greek yogurt, oil, sugar, and brown sugar until well combined.
- Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Don’t overmix at this point.
- Add grated carrots and gently fold the batter with a silicone spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and tap a few times to get rid of bubbles.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Make the cream cheese frosting:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy for 1 minute.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the frosting into a piping bag with a plain round tip, if desired. (Alternatively, you can simply use 2 teaspoons to frost the cakes.)
To assemble the mini cakes:
- Once the cake is cooled completely, carefully transfer the cake onto a flat surface. And cut out 2-inch circles using a cookie cutter (I love this cookie cutter set!) and arrange the mini cake layers on a wire rack.
- Pipe a ring around the edge on bottom cake layers and add pineapple curd in the center. (Alternatively, if you're not using pineapple curd, spread a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese frosting on the bottom cake layers and sprinkle candied pecans).
- Then place the top cake layers over the frosting. Finally, spread more frosting on top and sprinkle candied pecans.
- Store the cakes in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.
- Mix the leftover cake scraps and frosting in the mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld electric mixer, and make some cake pops.
Tips & Notes
– Store leftover little carrot cakes in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
– Freeze small carrot cakes for up to 3 months. Place them on a sheet pan or large plate and put them into the freezer. Once the carrot cakes are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container.