Brazilian carrot cake – or bolo de cenoura- is delicious and simple to make. It’s a very popular cake in Brazil among children and adults. Some carrot cakes (mainly in the US and the UK) are often made with grated carrots, nuts, spices, coconut, raisins, and pineapple – all topped with a cream cheese frosting. In Brazil, carrot cake is made with carrots as the only flavoring ingredient and is usually covered in a chocolate glaze (unlike “frosting” or “icing” which usually refers to a dense whipped butter-sugar-mixture). The contrast in colors from the dark glaze over the bright orange cake is visually appealing; while the combination of flavors from the chocolate and the subtle sweetness of the carrots are truly delightful.
About this recipe
This is a family recipe which I have modified to reduce the amount of sugar and fat while not sacrificing texture or flavor. My version of the recipe has half the amount of oil and is still super moist because of the carrots and addition of milk. The carrots and the milk also naturally sweeten the cake; therefore I have reduced the amount of sugar in both the cake and the chocolate glaze.
Cocoa powder is often used for this glaze instead of melted chocolate. The cocoa powder gives an intense chocolate flavor and a shiny coating (not achieved from melted chocolate unless adding butter or oil). You may substitute this glaze for a ganache (melted chocolate with cream or milk) or another chocolate frosting, but I prefer the traditional Brazilian chocolate glaze – or cobertura de chocolate- usually made for this recipe.
Brazilian Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)
Yields approx 24-28 pieces (approx size: 2×2 inches/5x5cm) if using rectangular 12×9 inch (30x23cm) pan.
Prep time: 10-15 min
Cook time: 30-40 min (cake) 5-8 min (glaze)
Cooking temp: 350°F/180°C
- 4 small or 3 medium (250g) carrots, chopped
- 3 eggs, separated yolks and whites
- 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated (superfine/caster) sugar
- 1 tsp (5ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbl (100ml) vegetable oil (I use canola)
- ½ cup milk (125ml) (you can replace the milk by adding an equal amount of oil to the recipe)
- 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbl (15g) baking powder
- 1 cup (250ml) milk (more if you prefer a thinner coating)
- 4 Tbl (24g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar (if you prefer it sweeter, you can add another ¼ cup or 50 g of sugar – for a total of ½ cup or 100g of sugar)
- 1 Tbl (9g) corn starch
- First separate the egg yolks from the whites and beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Note: Beating the egg whites separately incorporates more air into the batter; which is a very important step to achieving a soft fluffy cake (I do this for every cake recipe). However, to simplify, you can also put the entire egg into the blender if you wish to skip this step.
- Blend the chopped carrots, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, oil, and milk in a blender until well mixed and carrots are thoroughly blended.
- Note: I usually blend for approximately 5 minutes to make sure the eggs are well blended and not leave an “egg-y” smell or aftertaste.
- In a separate bowl, sift flour and salt. Pour carrot blended mixture into the dry ingredients bowl and mix well.
- Slowly combine 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter (the batter will feel a bit “heavy” so incorporate the egg whites slowly not to take away the “airiness”). When well mixed, slowly combine the rest of the egg whites into the mixture.
- Add the baking powder and slowly incorporate it into the batter; do not over mix at this point.
- Note: Baking powder is very delicate and should always be added as a last step whenever possible.
- Butter and flour a baking pan (I usually use a rectangular 12×9 inch (30x23cm) pan, but you can use any shape you prefer).
- Bake at 350°F/180°C for 30-40 minutes.
- Note: Adjust cooking temperature depending on the size and type of pan you use. Check the cake at 20 minutes to perhaps adjust cooking time.
- Important note: Every oven is different and I always check recipes approximately half-way and again two-thirds of the way to make sure I don’t overcook anything; especially when making a recipe for the first time.
Chocolate glaze directions:
- Combine milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and corn starch into a blender or mix thoroughly.
- Pour into sauce pan and cook over low-medium heat stirring frequently so the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the mixture begins to thicken (approx 5-8min), remove it from heat and pour it over the carrot cake while still warm.
I hope you enjoy one of my favorite cake recipes. Even if you have made “bolo de cenoura” before, try this recipe and you will see you won’t miss the reduction of sugar and oil in it. Let me know how it turns out!