Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies are the perfect sweet treat for spring! The tender carrot cake is studded with walnuts, and a layer of cream cheese icing is sandwiched between two cakes. These will be a hit at a bake sale or potluck!
A reader requested a whoopie pie recipe awhile back, but I was hesitant. The whoopie pies that I had tried in the past at various bakeries were dry and not very good. If I was going them, they needed to be moist, flavorful, and even better than a cupcake.
These Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies check all those boxes! The cake is nice and tender, and packed with flecks of grated carrots and finely chopped walnuts.
And the cream cheese icing takes them over the top. Because let’s face it, carrot cake is NOT carrot cake without cream cheese icing!
- The recipe starts with classic cake batter ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, and salt.
- Buttermilk keeps the cake tender.
- Cinnamon complements the shredded carrots and chopped walnuts.
- Cream cheese is the star of the icing, which is made with butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
- Orange zest and orange juice in the icing are the perfect complement to the carrot and cream cheese combination.
Making the whoopie pies
Begin by grating the carrots. I grated them using the grating disk of my food processor—it’s so much easier than grating carrots by hand! It took all of 15 seconds to grate them (and maybe another 2 minutes to clean the food processor). 🙂 You can also use a box grater. Avoid using pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store, which will be too thick for this.
Next, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Then, cream together the butter and sugar, and stir in the eggs.
The next technique is classic for cake-making: add half the flour mixture, stir, and then add half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and remaining buttermilk. Then, you are ready to scoop!
The key to getting consistently sized cakes is to use an ice cream scoop with a release lever. I used a 1-ounce scoop (here is a similar one). It comes in handy for scooping cookie dough and muffin batter, too.
Scoop evenly sized portions of batter onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat.
After baking for 12–14 minutes at 350°F, the cakes will be flat on the bottom and slightly domed on the top. This is the perfect whoopie pie shape!
Remove the cakes from the baking sheet and set them on a wire rack to cool completely.
How to make cream cheese icing
The key to a smooth and creamy cream cheese icing is to soften the butter and cream cheese on the countertop for at least two hours before making the icing.
When the butter and cream cheese are soft, place them in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest, and mix until combined and smooth.
The light citrus flavor of the orange juice and zest is the perfect complement to the carrot cake.
Assembling the whoopie pies
Once the cakes are cool, match each cake with another similarly-sized cake, and sandwiched the cream cheese icing in the middle using an offset spatula.
True to my original intent, these Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies are indeed better than a cupcake. I like them better because the icing is between the two cakes instead of on top, so you get the perfect ratio of cake to icing in each bite.
These whoopie pies would be such a fun addition to the dessert table at Easter dinner. They also would be a great contribution to a bake sale, packaged in a clear cellophane bag with a ribbon or raffia tied around the top.
If you’re on the hunt for more old fashioned cake recipes, this Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing is my absolute favorite!
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
For the cakes:
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup finely grated carrots (about 2 medium)
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
For the cream cheese icing:
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
- ⅓ cup softened unsalted butter, softened
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- Zest of one orange
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place parchment paper or silicone baking mats on two large baking sheets.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the sugar and softened butter until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and beat until combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture, beat on low just until combined. Add half of the buttermilk and beat until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk.
- Stir in the grated carrots and chopped walnuts. Use a 1-oz ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons) to drop cake batter onto the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches in between each mound of batter.
- Bake for 12–14 minutes, or until the top of the cakes no longer appear wet. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the softened cream cheese and softened butter until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest.
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. Repeat with the remaining powdered sugar, ½–1 cup at a time until all the powdered sugar is incorporated.
- Spread approximately 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese icing on the flat side of a cake. Top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with remaining cakes to create 12 whoopie pies.