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Carrot Cake with Spiced Pecans

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This carrot cake recipe has been one of my family secrets for generations and they normally die with the patriarch of the family. This happens all too many times with family favorites. On my father’s side of the family that one recipe was his carrot cake recipe. It took me 20 years just to get it from him.

As a kid growing up, every holiday season meant carrot cake was about to be in full production at the Temple residence. Pounds and pounds of carrots were purchased from the store. Newspapers full of carrot peelings and tops and the food processor getting every pennies worth of its cost put to use. We went through a few of them, which is why my dad is like the consumer report of kitchen appliances.

Now, even though I was in charge of peeling, shredding and using the food processor to get the carrots to the right consistency. I still wasn’t allowed to have the recipe. My father would give it to me like any person keeping the recipe a secret. A little bit of this, a dash of that, bake it and there you have it. What could I create with vague details? Nothing!

Carrot Cake with Spiced Pecans

My father finally gave me the coveted full recipe along with others once I graduated from college. I finally had the family recipes and I was going to master them. After years of trying them he finally gave me the nod of approval for perfecting the recipe. Family members would ask me to share recipe with them but my response was always, “I just got the recipe and I’m his son. I cannot give that up yet.” And that’s how it has been for years.

Last year I was telling my dad how one of my cousins reached out to me asking for the recipe and I explained to him why I could not give that away to him. With the calmest response my dad said, “Oh that’s nothing but the carrot cake recipe out of the NOPSI cookbook; it’s not my own personal recipe.”

Imagine my devastation when I found out that after all these years this deliciousness that’s been regarded as a coveted family recipe is merely a recipe out of a local cookbook?!

I eventually got over it. And in usual Kenneth form, of course, I added my own twist to this great recipe by adding spiced pecans to the batter and let me tell you it gives it a new depth of flavor. The moist cake, the spicy notes from the pecans and the richness from the cream cheese icing is a symphony in your mouth.
Since finding out this family recipe is not a true family original it that means I don’t have to be as secretive and I can share this deliciousness with you. Some of you may not like carrot cake others may love it. This recipe is so good it will definitely convert non-believers to believers.

Carrot Cake with Spiced Pecans Cooking Tips:

Make sure you get the carrots really fine so it blends with the batter well. This will keep you from biting into pieces of carrots.

Can you make ahead?

Freezer: After you cut the cake, individually wrap with plastic wrap. Then store in a freezer storage bag. Keep in the freezer for 5 months. Thaw 48 hours before using.

Fridge: After you cut the cake, individually wrap with plastic wrap. Then store in a freezer storage bag. Keep in the fridge for 7 days.

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Substitution Options:

I use canola oil or avocado for this recipe.

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Carrot Cake with Spiced Pecans

Carrot Cake with Spiced Pecans

Kenneth Temple
This is possibly the best carrot cake recipe you will ever find. Tender, light, moist and topped off with a fantastic cream cheese icing. This recipe has been in my family all of my life and every year without fail someone asks me for the recipe. The spiced pecans is my twist to add another layer of warmth to the cake.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 persons
Calories 1181 kcal


Carrot Cake:

  • 20 oz. shredded carrots
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Spiced Pecans:

  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons water

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • ½ stick unsalted butter room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Place 10 oz. of carrots in the food processor and pulse for 1 minute scrape down and pulse for another minute until carrots are fine. Then repeat with remaining carrots, sit to the side in a bowl.
  • In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast pecans by stirring for 3-4 minutes until you can smell them. Add butter, salt, black pepper and cayenne, cook for 30 seconds, add water and cut off heat. Transfer pecans to a bowl to cool.
  • Get two bowls out in one bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl blend sugar and oil together with a hand mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Next, in thirds add flour mixture. Working flour as little as possible. Fold in carrots, vanilla and ½ cup of pecans. Transfer to greased 9 x 13 pan and bake for 45-47 minutes. Cake should be firm and slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour before icing.
  • In a bowl with a hand blender mix powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Mix together on low speed for about 1-2 minutes until mixture is light and fluffy. Spread evenly over cake. Garnish with remaining pecans.
  • You can assemble in a mason jars, cut with a biscuit cutter cut out cake to size that will fit in jars. In a zip lock bag add icing, cut off a corner piece to make a pipping bag. To assemble add a dab of icing. Then add cake, icing, cake, icing then top off with pecans.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Serving: 0gCalories: 1181kcalCarbohydrates: 142gProtein: 10gFat: 67gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 16gMonounsaturated Fat: 36gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 992mgPotassium: 395mgFiber: 4gSugar: 111gVitamin A: 12507IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 145mgIron: 3mg
Keyword carrot cake, spiced pecans
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