This week I found myself taking the long way to a tube of toothpaste at the drugstore.
(Somehow, well into adulthood, toothpaste is one of those things that even with daily use, an empty toothpaste tube always seems like a surprise.)
The long way to toothpaste, in case you aren’t familiar with this technique, involves meandering through the nail polish aisle and staring in disbelief at the anti-aging skin care section before wandering into the candy section. In the candy aisle I usually talk myself into a box of Red Vines but this week, friends – we hit the jackpot: Easter candy. Spring candy is more righteous than even Halloween candy. It’s Easter eggshaped, candy coated, and Cadburry creamed. It’s the best candy of the year which of course helped me realize that it’s time for cake. Carrot cake, specifically.
I bought the Easter candy. I didn’t forget the toothpaste. I came home and dreamed up this cheeky little No-Bake Carrot Cake.
This cake is a play on this No-Bake Tres Leches Cake I made a few years back. Essentially we’re making a soft, whipped-cream based carrot cake ‘batter’. We’ll use graham crackers for our layers, alternating cream and crackers, and allow the cake to chill and the layers to soften overnight. The magic? The graham crackers soften to a cake like texture that is absolutely divine.
I want you to carrot cake any way that feels best to you. In the Joy the Baker Cookbook (of many years past) I shared my dad’s Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake recipe. You might also connect with Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls or this simple Browned Butter Carrot Loaf.
Now let’s make a cake!
Here’s what you’ll need for this sweet and easy no-bake carrot cake:
• a box of graham crackers (you can also use gluten-free graham crackers if you prefer)
• softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. This dynamic duo is the secret to no bake desserts because of the stability, and texture they add to no-bake cakes and ice creams.
• heavy cream whipped to soft peaks to lighten the ‘batter’ and extend the carrot cake flavor.
• toasted coconut, finely shredded carrots, and well-drained crushed pineapple. (Of course you can leave out coconut and pineapple if you don’t enjoy them.)
• carrot cake spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and a pinch of cloves.
• salt and vanilla the balance our baking flavors.
• whipped cream and orange and green tinted buttercream frosting (store-bought is totally fine) for decorating.
First, whip the softened cream cheese around the bowl to ensure that it’s very well softened and pliable.
Beat in the sweetened condensed milk ensuring that there are no egregious cream cheese lumps.
Add the carrots, toasted coconut, crushed pineapple, spices, salt, and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
In a separate large bowl, beat the whipped cream to soft peaks. It should feel sweepy dreamy – that’s my obnoxious description of the consistency of the whipped cream.
Fold most of the whipped cream into the cream cheese carrot cake mixture. We’ll reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the soft whipped cream to pipe the top of the cake.
The mixture will be incredibly light and rather loose. This is the filling that we’ll layer with graham crackers to create a soft and tender cake.
Layer the bottom of a square pan with graham crackers. Break the crackers and fit them together like puzzle pieces to create a good cookie base.
Top the graham cracker layer with about 1 cup of the carrot cake filling.
Repeat with another layer of crackers and another layer of filling. Repeat until you reach the top of the pan, ending with a layer of the carrot batter.
Cover the cake very loosely and refrigerate for at least 4 hours though overnight is best! Oh, you’ll want to refrigerate the whipped cream we’ve set aside too!
Ahead of frosting the cake, whip the softly whipped cream with a touch of powdered sugar to stiff peaks.
Add to a piping bag with a star tip (I used Wilton 32) and pipe a border and tic tac toe lines.
Pipe little orange carrots and green leaves if you’re feeling fancy . (I absolutely used store-bought vanilla frosting and tinted it with food coloring.)
Look at this soft and tender texture! The graham crackers become actual cake – it’s such a delight.
Happy Spring my friends!
If you make this cake, be sure to rate it and leave a comment below! I’m so thankful for this little baking community we’ve built together.
Oh…. and buy the Easter candy when you see it! xoPrint
A simple no-baked layered dessert with graham crackers and light carrot cake flavored whipped cream filling. It’s a delightful Spring Easter recipe!
- 1 (14 ounce) box graham crackers
- 1 (8 ounce) brick of cream cheese, very well softened
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots
- 1/3 cup well drained crushed pineapple
- 1/4 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups heavy cream, dividing the cream after it’s whipped
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Store-bought vanilla frosting, orange and green food coloring, sprinkles for decoration. All optional but lovely.
- Start by breaking 4 or 5 graham crackers into quarters. Keep the remainder in whole, long cookie pieces.
- We’ll use a 8-inch square pan for this recipe. A 9-inch pan is also fine – you’ll just use more cookies.
- On either size square pan you’ll notice that the sides arch out a bit as the pan get taller, making more real estate space for more cookies and filling. As you place cookies, just see what fits. It’s a puzzle!
- Place the cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Make sure the cream cheese has rested at room temperature for a few hours, ensuring that it has no chill and is very soft. Beat with electric hand beaters until lightly fluffed and smooth.
- Add the sweetened condensed and beat until very well incorporated and smooth. You don’t want to see any bits of cream cheese, so beat on high until they’re thoroughly combined. Stir in the shredded carrots, pineapple, coconut, spices, vanilla, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, use the electric hand beaters to blend the heavy cream to soft peaks. You want the cream to hold some shape and feel aerated but still be very smooth and spreadable.
- Start to incorporate the unsweetened cream into the cream cheese mixture by spooning just under a cup of whipped cream into the cream cheese bowl. Fold with a spatula to combine. No need to super stir this together. We’re trying to lighten the cream cheese mixture and keep the whipped cream fluffy.
- Continue to add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture in batches, being sure to reserve about 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream in the bowl – we’ll use this for the piping.
- Layer graham crackers across the bottom of the pan to cover the bottom.
- Spoon in a scant cup of the whipped cream carrot mixture and spread to smooth.
- Layer more graham crackers across the cream layer and again smooth more whipped cream carrot mixture. Repeat this process, with five layers of graham crackers and ending with the a final layer of whipped cream carrot mixture.
- Cover loosely and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight to soften.
- Add the powdered sugar to the remaining 1 1/2 cup of whipped cream and beat lightly to firm up.
- Before serving, spoon the sweetened cream into a piping bag and make a border around the edges and across the center to create nine squares. Pipe a carrot into each square, a few sprinkles across the top of the cake, and keep chilled until ready to serve. Cake will last in the fridge for up to four days. Enjoy chilled!