Kitchn Love Letters

This Mini Carrot Cake Is Small in Size but Big on Flavor

published Sep 19, 2022
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Mini Cozy Kitchen's carrot cake sliced on wax paper.
Credit: Photo: Chris Testani; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

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I love to bake. Towering layer cakes, lattice-topped pies, rustic galettes — anything topped with this copycat chocolate tub frosting. What I don’t love as much? The overwhelming amount of leftover desserts.

That might seem like a very specific and curious quibble, but I have a family of three and our extended family isn’t giant either, so when I go all out on the baking (why make one pie when you can make three?) we often have way more than we need. I was faced with this very dilemma this Easter, when I was having family over but knew I didn’t want to deal with three quarters of a layer cake or way too much pie.

I started by telling myself that I could only choose one dessert. After much deliberation, I decided on carrot cake. When I started my recipe search, there were plenty of layer cakes and sheet cakes, but I resisted. I knew there must’ve been a carrot cake out there for my specific situation.

And that’s when I came across this little cutie from Adrianna Guevara Adarme, the genius behind A Cozy Kitchen. The cake was baked in an 8-by-8-inch square pan (a size that’s commonly associated with brownies), it was topped with a fluffy frosting, and it was covered with tiny piped icing carrots. Sold!

Credit: Photo: Chris Testani; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

What’s So Great About A Cozy Kitchen’s Mini Carrot Cake?

As I read through the recipe, I was more and more convinced that I’d made the right choice. The cake calls for a combo of butter and oil, which meant that it would have a rich flavor (butter) and would also be nice and tender (oil). There were grated carrots, of course, but there were also walnuts for crunch and toasty, nutty goodness. And there were spices, including a little nutmeg, which I thought was a smart addition.

And then I got to the frosting. To be honest, I’m not the biggest cream cheese frosting fan. I often find that it it has a sticky, tacky texture that fights with the cake. But this was a brown butter cream cheese frosting, which has you brown butter, chill it in the freezer until firm-ish, then beat it with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and some whipping cream. That seemed like a combination I could sign off on.

And boy did I ever. The cake came together quickly and baked up tall and beautiful. As suspected, it was rich from the butter and tender from the oil and had a lovely balance of spice flavor. As good as the cake was, I must say that the frosting stole the show. The brown butter added depth, the cream cheese brought just the right amount of tang without taking over, and the cream helped keep the texture light and not at all sticky. It spread like a dream.

As I put the cake together, I looked at the mini carrots piped on top of the cake in the photo. They were very cute, but I still had more cooking to do. In a rare moment of self-awareness, I decided to skip that step and just garnish the cake with chopped, toasted walnuts.

That was the right choice, as was making this recipe. All of the guests raved about the dessert and at the end of the evening there wasn’t a crumb left.