Tropical Carrot Cake

“This cake puts chocolate to shame.”

-Andrea, Non-partisan cake voter but partial to chocolate…or so she thought.


-Anne, Partisan carrot cake advocate who has already decided that carrot cake will be served at her wedding reception.

“I don’t even like carrot cake but I LIKE this!”

-Laura, Newly bipartisan cake voter who has discovered a
world beyond the chocolate party and that carrot cake offers the sweet taste of common ground.

“I like beer.”

-Nathan, Independent cake voter.

These were some of the quotes that were uttered during an informal poll at a small birthday party that Nathan and I hosted for two of our friends who had October birthdays. I opted to make this carrot cake spin-off that incorporates ginger, coconut and pineapple into the traditional flavors of carrot and cinnamon. The cake is a weird fusion of autumn and tropical components that somehow all work together in a spectacular way. The cake requires some effort and gathering of ingredients but the end result is worth it! This cake is guaranteed to change minds and win votes….at least as far as cake is concerned.

Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Creme de Lys Chardonnay California 2010
Rating: 7.0 out of 10

I thought that this was a good wine on its own but it didn’t really enhance the carrot cake experience in the way we were hoping that it would. The label spoke of ‘tropical fruit, baked apple, vanilla, citrus and creme brulee’ but those flavors, besides a hint of vanilla,  didn’t really come through for me. I was hoping that the wine would pick up on the flavors of pineapple in the cake more but…not so much. Maybe it would have been a more successful pairing with something savory?

Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Commodore Perry IPA, Great Lakes Brewing Company
Rating: 8.75 out of 10

Unlike Katryn’s wine pairing, this IPA was actually really good with the carrot cake!  This golden amber IPA had a sweet, citrus hop, and grapefruit aroma which complimented the taste of the cake as you bring the glass to your mouth after a bite of cake.  Compared to many of today’s overly-hopped IPAs, this one was actually quite well balanced with enough bite from the hops to let you know you’re drinking an IPA but not enough to drown out the malt.  The citrus hop flavors cut through the rich cake and tangy icing excellently and made for a great pairing.

Tropical Carrot Cake

Based on this recipe.


For the cake:

2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2  cup chopped candied ginger (I found the ginger for cheap at Trader Joes!)
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
2 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained

For the frosting:

2 8-ounce packages light cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2  cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/4 cup chopped candied ginger


For the cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 ½ -inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

2. Combine ⅓ cup flour, coconut and ginger in food processor. Process until ingredients are thoroughly chopped and combined. Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl to blend.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and oil to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in coconut-ginger mixture, then carrots and crushed pineapple.

4. Divide batter between the two pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For the frosting:

1. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and vanilla.

2. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour.

3. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, rounded side up, pressing slightly to adhere. Spread a layer of frosting over top and sides of cake.

4. Chill cake and remaining frosting 30 minutes. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle chopped ginger on top of the cake. Chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)


4 Responses to Tropical Carrot Cake

  1. Anne says:

    I have to say, in further elaboration of my original quote, that not only will I have carrot cake served as my wedding cake, but that it will be THIS cake served to the assured delight of my family and friends! I cannot stress enough how scrumptious it is: moist but full of hearty texture from the fine shreds of coconut and lightly fibrous pineapple, perfect tangy-sweetness from the cream cheese frosting and crystalized ginger garnish on top…it’s simply magnificent. And, I must add that the beer pairing was also a welcomed treat with those bitter notes standing in full contrast to the sweetness in the both the cake and icing layers. Bravo my friends and thank you again for grand evening fit for ALL Libras!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just to set the record straight: ‘Delectable’ was my quote. Y’all are nearly as bad at getting these things write as writers for the Burtonsville Gazette…

    Good thing you’re great at making Carrot Cake to make up for it 😉

    ~Laura~ newly bi-partisan dessert eater (actually, I really don’t even typically like cake) and occasional snarky commentator.

  3. karen norman says:

    Wow, that sounds incredible!! And since carrot cake was OUR wedding reception cake, I am even more impressed. I appreciated all the comments from the cake connoisseurs, especially Nathan!

  4. DAD says:

    I am siding with the fifth wheel, the only male at your party, Nathan. I like the beer!

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