Cayenne Carrot Cake with Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting


I have a go-to, traditional southern carrot cake recipe that I would stake my life on. It’s moist, has great texture, and has a wonderful balance of flavors.

But there are only so many times a girl can make the same recipe in a month! This is the third request I’ve gotten for carrot cake, and I needed to mix things up.

I decided to spice up my favorite recipe. I experimented with a little cayenne, and made a spicy carrot cake with a bourbon maple cream cheese frosting.

Yield: 24 slices

Cayenne Carrot Cake Base:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 1 (12-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 10 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp maple bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and lightly greasing three nine-inch, round, cake pans. Set the pans aside. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon.

Mix in the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla at a medium speed, until fully incorporated. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and walnuts.

Pour the batter evenly between to prepare cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Allow the layers to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove them to allow them to finish cooling on a wire rack.

While the cake layers cool, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then mix in the powdered sugar in several installments on a low speed.

Add in a splash of cream and bourbon between the powdered sugar installments. Add in maple syrup and salt last, and mix on a low speed until fully incorporated.

Once the cake layers are fully cooled, frost each layer with an even layer of frosting, and add a thin crumb coat around the cake. Chill the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes, until the crumb coat is firm to the touch. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting, and smooth using a bench scrapper. Then decorate as desired!

I opted to make a walnut dirt garden, with orange and green gel colored, frosting carrot tops.



4 thoughts on “Cayenne Carrot Cake with Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Hi! Trying this recipe now, but a big confused – you have it described as both a cake and cupcakes, and refer to two types of frosting but don’t talk about how you used each of them. Will you clarify? Thanks!

Let me know what you think!