It happens sometimes.  That I am making a trusted recipe for the nth time and start seeing similarities with another favorite recipe.  And before I know it, I find myself combining the two.  Like this cake which happened when our go-to carrot cake met another beloved carrot dessert- the Indian gajar halwa!

Some friends were stopping by for a quick cup of tea and I decided to make a simple carrot cake to go with it.  As I was grating the carrots, the mind wandered and when it refocused, for a tiny second I felt like I was making gajar halwa.  And the recipe took a life of its own :)


The cake itself is a twist on a Cooking Light recipe I have been making for years.  Heavy on carrots with some added oatmeal and a very unexpected ingredient - carrot baby food!  I know....but it works.  Think of it as the applesauce of a carrot cake- giving an even deeper carrot flavor and making it wonderfully moist.  And I still had some dulce de leche in the freezer leftover from here so it seemed natural to add some of that to bring that amazing flavor of carrots slow-cooked in milk that is synonymous with the halwa.  Some lightly-toasted cashews and cardamom completed that picture and off it went into the oven.

When it came time to frost the cake, I wanted something even lighter than the already light cream cheese frosting.  And wanted the natural sweetness of the carrots to stay prominent without being overpowered by a lot of added sugar.  Part of the reason being that my taste buds have changed over the years and I don't like desserts that are overly sweet or too heavy.  And since I am the one mostly cooking, the family has no choice but to follow :) You needn't feel sorry for them though.  Because the cake really is delicious......and only when they read this will they know that I have been tinkering with their favorite recipes!

So I went with some whipping cream and to bring in some of that tang of a cream cheese frosting, a little Greek yogurt.  I was a bit nervous about how that would work and if it would hold its shape enough to be able to frost.  And silently thinking about how it still perplexes my husband after all these years that I mess ...experiment with a trusted recipe especially when I am making it for company :)  I need not have feared because the culinary stars smiled on me that day and the frosting turned out just the way I wanted.  The only caveat being that it is not suited for travel.  This is something that would be in the fridge until a little bit before serving.  Still...if you are looking for a change from the cream cheese frosting, I would urge you to try this one.


I know this post is close to Valentines's Day and this should be about chocolate and heart shapes or at the very least, something roses.  But I loved this cake as did everyone who had it, and it does have heart-healthy carrots, making it very appropriate for this day about least in my book :)

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone !!

Carrot-Dulce de Leche Cake

Printable recipe

(adapted from this Cooking Light recipe):

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup lightly toasted cashews
1 1/2 to 2 tsp cardamom, freshly ground
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup dulce de leche
1/3 cup canola oil
Approx. 5 oz carrot baby food
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups finely grated carrots
3/4 cup golden raisins


1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp dulce de leche
6 tbsp Greek yogurt (2% or whole milk)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom, freshly powdered

Kumquat topping:

1 cup kumquats, cut into fourths
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Some carrot leaves for garnish

For cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.  Grease a 9x13 pan and line with parchment paper.

Pulse the toasted cashews in the food processor a few times until it forms a coarse powder.  Then add the oats and pulse a couple more times.

Add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda,cardamom and salt and pulse 5-6 times until it is well mixed.  Transfer to large mixing bowl.

In another mixing bowl, add the sugar and dulce de leche and mix until well blended.  Then add the carrot baby food, canola oil and eggs and mix well.  Add this to the flour mixture.

Stir in the grated carrot and golden raisins until just moist.  Do not overmix.  Don't worry if the batter looks runny.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake for 45-60 mins (time will depend on oven), until skewer inserted in comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack to room temperature.

For the frosting:

Put the Greek yogurt between a couple of layers of paper towels to mop up any excess moisture.  Then mix it with the dulce de leche in a small bowl until smooth.

Start whipping the cold cream on medium speed until frothy.  Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until it forms soft peaks.

Add the yogurt-dulce de leche mixture and cardamom and whip until stiff peaks.  Do not overwhip.

Spread on completely cooled cake.

For the Kumquat topping:

Bring the sugar and water to a boil and then add the kumquats.  Continue to cook until they turn soft.  Keep aside until completely cool and then arrange the pieces on frosted cake, along with the carrot leaves.



  1. This sounds simply divine Bina. We love dulce de leche and you've added it in the cake and frosting I see, so good. Love your styling, so lovely.Pinning.

    1. Thanks so much, Asha! The dulce de leche does give it that special mava-like flavor :) Hope you like it.

  2. Lovely recipe Bina! I love all the complex flavours that bring everything together. I have never worked with dulce le leche before. This makes me want to! <3

    1. Thanks so much, Rakhee! I was originally thinking of mava but figured the dulce de leche would be so much easier. Especially since it is easily available :) You should try it some time. I can have more than a few spoonfuls as is :)

  3. Such a lovely recipe and I am definitely going to try that soon. Right now, I just wish I could grab a bit or two.

    1. Thanks so much, Kankana! Wished you lived closer, would have sent some across or better yet, shared over a cup of tea :)