I’m working with McCormick this year, a brand I’ve been longing to work with for years, to bring you fresh and flavorful recipes. I grew up spicing and flavoring food with McCormick, so I’m thrilled to be on their blogging team!
Look what we’ve got today! Carrot cake + cheesecake in one.
But first, how was your weekend? Do anything fun? It’s been my first weekend home with zero plans in months, so guess what I did? Spring cleaning! I promise I’m not as boring as that sentence. But when you haven’t been home for, like, 6 months straight and are moving in 2 months– cleaning out closets and cabinets and
junk drawers horror drawers feels like a dream come true. Pair that with a morning of baking carrot cake, 2 long runs, a lunch date, the couch, a bottle of wine, and some marathon Friends watching– that’s my idea of the perfect weekend these days. Man, I really AM 30.
But let’s discuss that carrot cake business.
I first made this carrot bundt cake the other week. Loved it, of course. The recipe is quite similar to my favorite carrot cake recipe, with only a couple changes. When I made it again this weekend, I added something completely new in the form of cheesecake. A tunnel of sweet cheesecake running through the entire carrot bundt cake. And, yes, it’s as incredible as it sounds. But what makes this carrot bundt cake even better are my other tiny additions. There’s fresh orange zest and raisins (sorry) inside the batter, sweet orange glaze on top of the cake, and the entire thing is sweetened with just brown sugar. So it has that whole brown sugar molasses flavor going on.
Every bite tastes as dreamy as spring cleaning feels. ♥
The reason I fancied up my carrot cake recipe? Test-baking for Easter! Do you do that too? I really want something to impress at Easter brunch. Though carrot cake and pineapple upside-down cake usually make appearances on my Easter table, I wanted an updated spin on our tradition. And maybe you do as well? Maybe you’re hosting Easter this year and want that show-stopper dessert? Look no further because this cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake is it.
This carrot cake is as simple as folding a bunch of ingredients together. You’ll need a mixer for that cheesecake layer, which I’ll chat about in a sec, but that’s about it. Since we’re not creaming butter, the carrot cake batter can be made by hand. Add-ins like pecans and raisins are completely optional and I swear you won’t hurt my feelings if you leave those sweet ‘n’ plump raisins out. Sniff sniff.
Oil makes the carrot cake lusciously moist and tender, while applesauce prevents the cake from tasting too oily (and flavors it, too!). It’s all about balance. Brown sugar, eggs, and freshly grated carrots also keep the carrot cake super moist. Make sure you are grating your own carrots, rather than buying pre-shredded carrots from the store. Why? Store-bought shredded carrots are usually very dry in comparison. When you grate carrots yourself, you’ll notice how wet they are– and how much they’ll moisten the cake.
For flavor, we obviously have the brown sugar. We also have a powerhouse pack of spices: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and ground cloves all tied together into one blissfully spiced carrot cake. The spice flavor is the BEST part about carrot cake, so don’t skimp on quality or quantity. We’re using McCormick brand and we’re using a lot of them. Mostly cinnamon, but there’s a good amount of ginger as well. Not that this carrot cake will taste like gingerbread, but there’s just enough to make you notice its little flavor zing. I love ground ginger in carrot cake and you will too. In addition to the brown sugar and spice flavors, we have fresh orange zest in the carrot cake as well. Plenty of spice + vibrant citrus + sweet cheesecake = carrot cake kicked up about 12 million notches.
The cheesecake batter is layered between the carrot cake batter, so you get this rippled cheesecake layer throughout the baked carrot cake. Sort of like the cheesecake swirls in my pumpkin cream cheese bars– but you’ve got a thicker, solid layer in this carrot bundt cake. It’s super simple: just cream cheese, egg, a little sugar, and pure vanilla extract. All tasty and easy ingredients, but when combined? You have a tunnel of actual cheesecake. The (delicious) whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
And let’s not forget the sweet orange glaze. Cherry on top, if you will.
My plan: taste and freeze the extras.
My reality: I couldn’t put down the fork.
Between all the flavor, texture, cheesecake, orange glaze, and moist carrot cake texture– your tastebuds won’t even know what happened to them. This is most definitely the impressive Easter dessert masterpiece we all need!
Cheesecake Swirl Carrot Bundt Cake
Don't be overwhelmed. I know it looks like a bunch of ingredients, but they're all pretty basic! Make sure the cake cools completely before cutting into it.
- 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
- 1 cup (240ml) vegetable or canola oil
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (133g) smooth unsweetened applesauce1
- 1 teaspoon McCormick pure vanilla extract
- zest from 1 orange
- 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons McCormick ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon McCormick ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick ground cloves
- 2 cups (260g) grated carrots (about 3 large)
- optional: 1 cup (150g) raisins
- optional: 2/3 cup (95g) chopped pecans
- 12 ounces (336g) brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature2
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon McCormick pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2-3 Tablespoons (30-45ml) fresh orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and orange zest together until combined and no brown sugar lumps remain. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until just combined. Then, fold in the carrots, raisins, and pecans. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan.
- In a medium bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer filled with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until completely combined. Spread in an even layer on top of the carrot cake batter. Do your best to spread- it's a thick mixture.
- Spread the remaining carrot cake batter evenly on top. Bake for 55-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. This cake will take awhile to bake because it is so moist and very thick. All ovens are different, so do not feel discouraged if your cake is taking a long time. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean. Cover the cake loosely with aluminum foil if you begin to see the top browning quickly. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes inside the pan.
- After 30 minutes, invert the slightly cooled bundt cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- Whisk the glaze ingredients together and spoon over cake prior to serving. Cover up extras tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Make ahead tip: Prepare cake 1 day in advance. Allow to cool, then keep cake in the refrigerator, covered tightly, until ready to serve. Cake may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.
- Instead of applesauce, you can use 3/4 cup crushed pineapple.
- Don't use cream cheese spread; use brick-style cream cheese. Full-fat preferred, though low fat works too. Don't use fat free.
If you'd like to switch up the raisins and pecans, you can use shredded coconut or even chopped walnuts instead of either. Or you can leave the cake plain without any add-ins.
Here is the bundt pan I own and love. Heavy-duty, long-lasting, love the grip handles!
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For more fancied up traditional Easter dishes, check out McCormick’s selection. 🙂
I’m working with McCormick to bring you today’s recipe. Thank you for helping me work with brands I love!