Hawaiian Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

Hawaiian Carrot Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Thursday!

I hope you’re having a great week, and for some of you, today is actually Friday, since tomorrow is Good Friday, which likely makes your week even better. It’s definitely a crazy time around our house, with my working feverishly on some wedding projects, Reese’s 4th birthday coming up on Monday, my typical baking adventures, and, well, just life as a mom of 2 small kids leading into a busy family-packed Easter weekend.

I’ve been baking like crazy, and was really looking forward to making a really delicious carrot cake for Easter . . . I love carrot cake! I really appreciate a lovely traditional version, but I thought it would be fun to try something a little different. I’ve also been sort of enchanted with open layer cakes lately, and I love simplicity of this one when I saw it on the LCBO website as a sneak peek from their fabulous magazine: Food & Drink, Spring 2011 issue. Although I typically love to switch things up and rework recipes, etc. I didn’t want to mess too much with this one because it was gorgeous just the way I found it, so I left it almost exactly as it was shown in the magazine.

Hawaiian Carrot Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake is a tropical version, including silky coconut cream cheese icing sandwiched between layers of pineapple-infused carrot cake. There are no nuts in the recipe, which was kind of refreshing, but it’s still packed with the wonderful things that make carrot cake so delightful: fresh-grated carrots, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to name a few. The coconut icing is a play on the traditional cream cheese icing, but with the addition of butter, sour cream, and coconut, it brings it to a whole new level.

Hawaiian Carrot Cake via Sweetapolita

These tropical flavours paired so well with the traditional carrot cake qualities, and I really love the thin layers — I feel like that quick slicing of the two layers into four adds a beautiful element to it, and why not? To me, creating extra layers in a cake, followed by extra icing layers, is one of the simplest ways to make even the simplest cake a show-stopper.

The yummiest!

Hawaiian Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

Yield: One 4-layer, 9-inch round cake

Super-moist, autumn-spice pineapple-carrot cake filled and frosted with sweet and rich coconut cream cheese icing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) chopped canned pineapple
  • 4 cups (1 L) grated carrot
  • 2-1/2 cups (315 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon (10 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) nutmeg
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) golden brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • For the Icing:
  • 2 pkgs (250 g each) regular cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream or natural yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (315 g) icing sugar
  • 1 cup (75 g) sweetened flaked coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray or oil two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Finely chop drained pineapple, place in a sieve and press with a spoon to remove as much juice as possible. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 4 cups and set aside.
  3. Place flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until blended.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla.
  5. Beating on low speed, add about a third of flour mixture and beat just until mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Batter will be very thick. Gradually mix in pineapple and carrots.
  6. Divide between prepared pans and smooth with a small offset spatula. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centers seem set when lightly tapped, about 40 to 45 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.
  7. For the Icing:
  8. Cut cream cheese into chunks. Place butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in cream cheese, piece by piece. Beating too much will cause thinning. Add about a third of the icing sugar and beat on low until just mixed in. Scrape sides of bowl and beaters occasionally.
  9. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating just until smooth. If too thick or thin, work in a little sour cream or sugar. Remove about a quarter of the icing to be used on top cake layer and set aside. Stir coconut into the remaining icing.
  10. Assembly of the Hawaiian Carrot Cake:
  11. Slice cakes horizontally in half. Place top of 1 cake, dome-side down, on a platter. Spread with a third of the coconut icing leaving a narrow border of cake around edge.
  12. Lay the bottom of that cake, cut-side down, on top. Spread with half the remaining coconut icing, leaving a narrow cake border. Top with the bottom half of the second cake, cut-side down. Spread with the remaining coconut icing, leaving a cake border.
  13. Top with the final layer, cut-side down. Spread with plain icing right to the edges. Garnish with toasted, fresh coconut. Best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.
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[recipe adapted from Food & Drink Magazine Spring 2011]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You may also find this previous post helpful: 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes
  • If you find the coconut icing too runny, add small amounts of icing sugar until desired consistency is achieved.
  • For a quick and easy topping, you can toast flaked (sweetened or unsweetened) coconut on a baking sheet at 350° F for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown, and sprinkle on top of cake.
  • This cake cuts best with a very sharp, serrated knife.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Comments

  1. 1

    Rose-a-licious,

    You are killing me softly with this one, my dear. As if carrot cake isn’t dreamy enough all on its own, you throw in pineapple. And an insane frosting. Plus a gorgeous cake plate and THEN illegally adorable pictures of your kids. Just stop already. I can’t go on.

    Love Always,

    Shauna

  2. 2

    What a gorgeous cake and you have absolutely beautiful children!

  3. 3

    YOU MADE COOKIES!!! Woo hoo! Made my week. You have one of those touches that makes anything you come across beautiful! The cake is magnificent!!!!

  4. 4

    Rosie! Its beautiful and sounds delicious!! Am I the only one not seeing the ingredient list for the frosting? I apologize if I somehow missed it, but I cannot find it.

    xoxo
    ~Ela

    • 5

      Sorry Ela! I just fixed that up. Thanks for letting me know, and thank you for the sweet words!

      • 6

        Thank you! I have a question and I hope it’s ok to post here. My father’s birthday is coming up and his favorite cake is a Coffee Walnut cake that he used to eat a lot when he was growing up in Europe. I wanted to make him one for his birthday and I was wondering if you had any suggestions? Thanks Rosie!! I’m learning so much from you :)

        xoxo
        ~Ela

  5. 7

    Very similar to my recipe, but my carrot cake actually has coconut IN the cake, and instead of pineapple (which the original recipe called for) I use a secret ingredient. If you email me, I’ll share it with you.

  6. 8
    Mellybrown says:

    I am so jealous of the 4 day CDN Easter weekend! I forgot about it and dashed across the border to visit some friends who just had a baby …. only to get stuck in a major lineup on the way home. Boo. I’m making carrot cake this Easter. I have to share the link http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tropical-Carrot-Cake-with-Coconut-Cream-Cheese-Frosting-107949 it is truly the best (and probably most expensive!) carrot cake I have ever had! I’m going to try doing it rectangular style like your raspberry/choco. cake. Have a great weekend!

    • 9

      Should I make you even more jealous and say Australia has a 5 day Easter weekend this year? ANZAC day (a day to commemorate our troops) is on Monday, which means they’ve had to give us Tuesday off to make up for the 2 public holidays on 1 day thing.

  7. 10

    I love the coconut icing in this! It sounds perfect. Beautiful cake!

  8. 11

    One of my favourite cakes, it looks so yummy! Rosie, you have wonderful kids, so cute and sunny!
    Happy Holidays to you and your family :)

  9. 12

    Such a beautiful looking cake. I love the idea of using a coconut cream frosting to sandwich the cake together, it really is the icing on the cake! I am visiting Australia, and it is a 5-day long weekend because of Easter and the fact that ANZAC Day falls on Easter Monday, so Tuesday is a holiday too.

  10. 13

    Oh my! Adorable pictures and adorable cake!
    Happy Easter!

  11. 14

    I have to ask, who eats all your cakes? I know you said Grant doesn’t particularly like sweet things, so is it all down to you and your girls? There’s only 2 of us in my house and I always feel greedy when I bake up a huge cake just for us, I still eat it though :)

  12. 15

    My mom and I were just discussing making a carrot cake for Easter, but the men in the family aren’t big fans. Maybe we should make it anyways! ;)

  13. 16
    Elizabeth says:

    The cake looks fantastic! But…i think those cookies are gorgeous! Could you post directions for them too please?

  14. 17
    anabela martins says:

    Deliciou. Happy Easter 4 you :))

  15. 18

    I’m not a big fan of carrot cake normally, but your gorgeous photos and recipe may have just made me change my mind! Oh, and I love all the kiddie pics!

  16. 19
    Patrícia says:

    Rosie, what a beautiful blog you have!
    I started to read a few days ago and I’m in love!
    A lot of beautiful pictures and details, just like a good blog should be!
    Congratulations!
    Patty

  17. 20

    A beautiful cake, perfect for Easter. You are now my go to source for cake recipes as everything I have tried from here has never failed. Beautiful :) Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

  18. 21

    it looks delicious!!!!!!!!!!

  19. 22
    Jen Lottman says:

    Some of my best memories growing up included my Mom’s carrot cake which included pineapple. This kept the cake so moist and delicious and I couldn’t think of any way it could get any better………..until now!! Adding coconut, one of my favourite things in the world, just made this cake just about the best dessert I can think of!!!!! Yummy!!
    Rosie, you did it again, just when I thought you couldn’t make another thing that could outdo the last, you do!!!!!
    Love you and your yummies!!!!
    Xo

  20. 23

    Um, you’re “nothing fancy” cookies look pretty darn good to me! Cake looks delicious too…I love the cinnamon sticks on top. Have a wonderful Easter =)

  21. 24
    Laura Lee says:

    I love everything about this cake. Gorgeous photos!

  22. 25

    Hi Rosie,

    I am a friend of Mary’s and she let me try some of this cake that you sent home with her, it was AMAZING!!! Carrot cake is always delicious but the icing really made it to die for! I love checking out your blog and look forward to tasting some more treats at the wedding next weekend!!

  23. 26

    Yum, can’t wait for the weather to warm up over here to try it!

  24. 27

    This is a mouth watering cake! I can’t wait to try this one all by myself and eat all of myself! LOL. Coconut frosting is really new for me but it seems to be delicious.

  25. 28

    Nice photos especially the cake! LOL. I love coconut and this frosting would be perfect for a cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  26. 29
    Michelle says:

    Have you ever made this recipe with mini muffins? I need a good carrot cake for my son’s bday at school and this would be awesome.

  27. 31

    lovely pictures, really very beautiful, the kid is an angel and the cake looks delicious. What a beautiful life! Congratulations!

  28. 32

    I’ve already made this cake twice and its absolutely amazing! At least 4 people told me it was the best carrot cake they’d ever had. Some did miss the nuts, so the second time I made it I caramelized some chopped walnuts and sprinkled them on top, that was really yummy! Thank you for sharing such an awesome recipe.

  29. 33

    Hi Rosie,

    I made this cake this past week-end but had to make a small adjustment. Since we follow a kosher diet and cannot mix meat and milk, I had to make the cake non-dairy for a family barbecue. I replaced the buttermilk with soya milk and vinegar producing my own homemade buttermilk and instead of using butter, I used 3/4 cup of olive oil. The cake came out amazing. I made a coconut buttercream icing (with shortening) though the icing was less tasty (can’t beat the taste of real buttercream) the cake in itself was absolutely delicious and the whole family really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

  30. 34
    Mariana says:

    Hi, this looks like a really good recipe, but I´m from Chile and I don´t understand what means “ml” in the amounts of each thing, for example: 250 ml o 1 L…Could you help me to know what measures are those, please?. We use grammes and liters…
    Thanks, greetings!!

  31. 36
    Karoline Pratt says:

    I am currently baking not one, but TWO of these cakes for a TWIN baby shower luau on Saturday that I’m hosting. OMG. The smell is HEAVEN!! It’s nearly 1am and I still have to wait on the second batch to bake and I don’t even mind because it smells SO darn good! Thank you for this lovely site and awesome recipes!

  32. 37
    Christina says:

    Thank you for this great recipe. I just tried the first slice and it is amazing. I am a Canadian living in Holland and so it was such a pleasant surprise to come across your blog. Feels like I can bake a little piece of home/Canada right here in Europe!

  33. 38

    Excellent website, beautiful family and gorgeous photos! I substituted 1 cup wheat flour, added 1 tsp each of nutmeg/ginger/allspice, and 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut to the cake, borrowed Jamie Oliver’s lime mascarpone frosting and then piped the whole thing w white chocolate… I would love to share my photo… My icing doesn’t have the density of your original frosting but the white chocolate piping gave the top layer more oomph. Let’s see what my guests have to say…

  34. 40

    Hi Rosie, your website seems to have become the go-to site for me when I want to try something new, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. Baked this cake for my birthday recently, and it was a hit. I’m not a big fan of cream cheese frosting, but I loved the cream cheese frosting with coconut. Can’t wait to try out more cakes from your website. Thanks a ton!

  35. 41
    Danielle says:

    Thanks so much for another wonderful recipe, just wanted to ask a quick question! Can you substitute the pineapple for something else? like chopped walnuts/pecans! I wasnt overly fussed about pineapple being in a carrot cake! But it was lovely to eat regardless – will never turn a piece of cake down!

    Thanks again!!
    p.s can i just say the icing was bloody brilliant

  36. 43

    Please can you write how many grams of cream cheese do i need,I live in Africa and don’t have the same cheese or package as you

  37. 44

    oooo sorry i didn’t look carefully ….

  38. 45

    thank you so much for this recipe. i used it to make a sheet cake for a baby shower. the mom didn’t like any other cake, besides carrot cake. so i needed a good recipe. her eyes practically rolled back in her head upon the first bite. this cake was moist and so yummy; paired with your frosting that i put in the middle….it was crazy good. my husband who isn’t a cake eater either went crazy over it. this is now my go to recipe whenever carrot cake is chosen. thanks again. :)

  39. 46

    for the butter and flour, is the ml meant to be grams?

  40. 47
    Suzy Carnes says:

    Is it. 2 pkg of 8 oz or 16 oz cream cheese?

  41. 48

    Hi Rosie,
    Firstly, I made this cake this weekend and it tasted amazing! So many happy birthday guests!
    However, I was wonderin, with the frosting between the cake layers.. how did you get it so neat and nice? Mine oozed and wasn’t that even!
    Thanks, Shannon :)

  42. 50

    Hi Rosie,

    I’ve made this cake once and it was a sure hit! I was wondering though if i can make cupcakes using the same batter?

    Thanks!

    Kristine

  43. 51

    Hi! I’m a huge fan of your recipes and have just added this one to a “Best Carrot Cake Recipes” post on my blog :-)

  44. 52

    Hi Rosie!

    I just re-read your comment that this cake should be best refrigerated a couple hours before consuming and to use a sharp serrated knife to cut the cake. I just made this and assembled it the same way and when i tried cutting it, the cream cheese started squeezing out of the layers and the layers moved back and forth because I was doing the back and forth sawing motion. I think the knife I was given by the restaurateur was a steak knife too. I’m contemplating sticking some wooden skewers through the layers next time. Will that work? But yours is of course, beautiful!

  45. 53

    Hi Rosie! I made this cake a few months ago and it was AHMAZING! Just wondering how you think it would hold up as a bundt cake? Thanks!

  46. 54

    Beautiful cake! I made your chocolate cake and it was really delicious. But turns out I am not good with sugar. Do you think I can replace the powdered sugar in the frosting with stevia and potato starch? Should I just do this to taste? Thanks!

  47. 55
    Emily Cikovsky says:

    Cutest baby picture ever!

  48. 56
    Lorette says:

    An absolutely mouth watering cake. Thanks for your recipe. My husband and kids keep smiling whenever they open the fridge and see the cake.

  49. 57

    We made this last night and it was wonderful. We only made a few tiny changes- we omitted the coconut because our birthday celebrant is not a fan and we used Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
    We ate the whole cake – there was clamoring for seconds.
    The pineapple was absolutely perfect and kept the cake super moist.
    You have 10 new huge fans on Michigan’s beautiful western shore.

  50. 58
    Deboleena says:

    Can I pipe this frosting and frost my cake with it.

  51. 59

    You’ll find no cash in Candy Crush Saga.

  52. 60
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this recipe. I made it for Easter to share with family and it was a huge hit. It was incredibly moist and full of flavor. It’s a definite winner.

  53. 61
    Justine says:

    Hi Rosie. I’m making this delicious sounding cake but I’ve just turned mine out of their tins and they are really thin. I don’t think I can split them into layers because they are only about 1in thick each. I’m a very regular baker so I think I have all the basic tips down to ensure my cakes rise, any ideas what I could have done wrong with this recipe? I’m just going to layer these two cakes up with the filling and it will still be yummy, I just want to know how I could improve :)

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