I have to confess I was not always a big fan of carrot cake. Until I developed this carrot mousse cake recipe I simply did not understand why all the carrot cakes are so dense and heavy. Well not this one!
If you are looking for a light and airy carrot cake recipe you found the One! Of course, everyone claims to have the Best carrot cake recipe but in the soft and airy league for me this is the winner 100%! Melt in your mouth, velvety texture with the most amazing cream cheese mousse filling.
Moist and tender carrot cake packed with spices and filled with delicious, airy cream cheese mousse is the ultimate carrot mousse cake recipe you have to try! Definitely a must recipe for fall but carrot cake is also a great idea any other time of the year!
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using milk instead of cream, using poor quality chocolate etc. will all have an impact on your baking
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking desserts
First let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this Carrot mousse cake recipe
For the carrot cake
- Oil: this is an oil based cake (no butter) that keeps the cake super moist, soft and fluffy. Butter based cakes tend to harden a lot in the fridge, with oil we won’t have this issue. Use no flavour vegetable oil
- Sugar: I am using a combination of granulated white and brown sugar. I absolutely love the brown sugar deep molasses flavour and regularly use it in autumn theme recipes. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Egg: Room temperature as always
- Flour: I am using pasty flour but AP works too, they are so called “soft flour” which are low on protein resulting in delicate, tender texture. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Baking powder + Baking soda: Makes the cake tender and helps the rise
- Salt: We always need at least a pinch of salt in any cake batter to balance the flavours
- Spices: I recommend a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or feel free use pumpkin spice. I have a DYI pumpkin spice recipe in here
- Carrot: Carrot will gives further moistness to the cake, I recommend to peel carrots then shred it fresh. It is a juicy, moist, wonderful addition to the cake
- Nut: Use either walnut or pecan and it is a good idea to toast it first in the oven for a few minutes. Toasting nuts enhances their flavours. Tip.: worth to chop pecan or walnut into smaller pieces as while larger pieces are still delicious, they make it difficult to slice the cake later
For the cream cheese mousse
- Gelatine: It´s an odorless, tasteless and colorless thickening agent, very often used by pastry chefs particularly in mousse cakes. Powder or sheet versions are available, in my recipes I always use sheet (1,7 g / sheet), which I found easier to handle. Simple soak the gelatine sheet into cold water for a few minutes before you need them and use it according to the recipe. Please note that gelatine is derived from collagen taken from animal body parts therefore not suitable for vegetarians. Agar agar can be a good substitution for vegetarians however replacing gelatin with agar agar is not 1:1 and can only be done by reformulating the recipe slightly.
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40% . Use it very cold and do not substitute with vegetable based “whipping cream”. Heavy cream will make the filling extra smooth and creamy, effectively a mousse like consistency. While whipping cream you have to start on low speed then gradually increase. Once reached the right consistency (in this case soft peaks) stop whipping otherwise it will go into stiff peaks which makes it difficult to fold with the rest of the ingredients
- Granulated sugar: I use simple, white granulated sugar, nothing fancy . While heating it up with cream make sure the sugar granulates fully dissolve. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Cream cheese: I always use Philadelphia when I state cream cheese in my recipes. I find it easy to cream (need to bring it to room temperature first) and very pleasant in taste. I usually beat it with a hand mixer for less than a minute, just until it becomes fluffy and increases a bit in volume. Please avoid over whipping
- Vanilla bean paste: Avoid using artificial vanilla. There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend
Now let’s continue with my top 5 tips regarding the technique of making this Carrot mousse cake recipe
1. How to make carrot cake
This Carrot mousse cake recipe is one of those easy recipes that you can literally almost make in one bowl, or in two to be exact.
Carrot cake is wonderful and easy cake recipe worth learning for home bakers. Super moist, fluffy cake with velvety crumb, incredible delicious. It is also easy to prepare, key is not to overwork the batter. Here are my top 10 tips to make the carrot cake
- Prepare baking pans with parchment paper (I am using 2 x 18 cm / 7 inches pan )
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 356 F
- Ingredients must be all measures with a Digital scale
- Eggs must be on room temperature
- Shred carrot fresh
- Oil, egg and the 2 different kinds of sugar should be beaten with an Electric hand mixer for only a minute or two until combined
- Sift dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices) before adding to the mixture
- Dry ingredients must be folded in by hand (using Rubber spatula). Do not use a mixer at this point
- Then fold in the shredded carrot and toasted and chopped pecan
- Pour batter into prepared baking pans (2 x 18 cm / 7 inches pan) and bake for 20 minutes. Do not open the oven door during baking. After 20 minutes check the middle of the cake with a toothpick . Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let them cool on a cooling rack
2. How to make cream cheese mousse
Cream cheese mousse is my favorite type of frosting! It is not the usual, heavy butter based cream cheese frosting but light and airy, feels like eating the clouds! Preparing the cream cheese mousse filling is a 3 steps process, do not try to combine them to “save time”. Please note that this cake contains 2 layers of cream cheese mousse plus the decoration (as you can see on the pictures) so you will have to make sure that there is enough mousse left to do both layers and the decoration too.
- Step 1: Prepare the gelatin mixture. Soak gelatin sheets into cold water, in the meantime heat cream and sugar until simmering. Mix gelatine sheets into the hot cream mixture then bring it lukewarm temperature before step 2. Too warm? It will melt cream cheese in Step 2. Too cold? Gelatine will set and will be impossible to mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Do not put the mixture into the fridge or freezer as gelatine can form lumps if it cools too quickly
- Step 2: Once the gelatine mixture cooled to lukewarm temperature, whip room temperature cream cheese until fluffy, for about a minute. Fold fluffy cream cheese and the gelatin mixture together. Cream cheese is an interesting ingredient, it won´t get fluffier or harder if you beat longer, in fact, it will break and become runny. I suggest to use an Electric hand mixer to avoid over beating
- Step 3: After step 2, immediately whip heavy cream until soft peaks. fold cream into the rest of the mixture and pour or ideally pipe into the mousse ring then smooth the top with an offset spatula. Make sure heavy cream is very cold or it might be difficult to whip up. While whipping heavy cream, remember that it will go through the following stages: runny, soft peak, stiff peak then it will break and few minutes later buttermilk separates and you can make butter . For this recipe make sure you stop after soft peak. The cream should not be runny but also should not be too stiff which would make it difficult to fold the cream with the rest of the ingredients.
- Note: Straight after making this cream it will be runny but do not panic, it will set in the fridge due to the gelatine added
3. How assemble this Carrot mousse cake
Baking this cake is super easy however assembling it is a step by step process
1. You will need to make the carrot cakes first, let them cool on wire rack. For a neat looking cake I recommend to keep one of the sponges as it is (that will be the bottom) and trim 1-2 cm around the other one so it will be smaller in diameter (see cut picture above and below), that will be the insert. Freeze both sponges for a few minutes before assembling so they are less crumbly.
2. While sponges are in the freezer prepare the cream cheese mousse as per instructions
3. Assemble the mousse ring; Set Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) to 18 cm / 7 inch, same size as the larger sponge. Use Acetate cake collar around the ring inside for neat looking end results. Place the larger, chilled cake into the mousse ring tightly then pipe cream cheese mousse on top and smooth the top with an Offset spatula. Chill the cake for 10 minutes in the freezer then place the second, smaller sponge on top of the cream cheese mousse and pipe another batch of cream cheese mousse on top and around and again smooth with an Offset spatula. Place cake into the fridge for minimum 4 hours for the gelatine to set.
Tip.: Worth measuring the cream cheese mousse before piping so that the two cream layers are even. Set some cream cheese mousse aside for decoration.
4. Decoration: Once both cake as well as the remaining cream cheese mousse set in the fridge, carefully remove the cake from the mousse ring and acetate cake collar and pipe decoration on top. I am using a French star nozzle tip. Gently hint with cinnamon or pumpkin spice
4. What equipment is needed to make mousse cake
The Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) can be replaced with spring form however mousse ring is adjustable in size therefore can be used for many different kind of cakes.
Acetate cake collar is an inexpensive baker hack you can purchase from Amazon and just makes all the difference! Once the mousse ring is set, place Acetate cake collar inside the ring and start building the cake up from bottom to top as stated in the recipe, it will encourage the side of the cake to look very neat and straight.
Make sure you do not remove the mousse ring and Acetate cake collar until the cake is set. Once unmold the cake ring, remove Acetate cake collar very carefully. If happen to be any “wrinkle” on the side, you can smooth it out with an Offset spatula to achieve a professional smooth side.
5. Be Patient
Patient is key when making layered mousse type cakes, like this Carrot mousse cake recipe. You just can’t rush certain steps or it will make a mess. Building up the layers is so easy, but you have to respect time, concretely leaving enough time in between the layers until they are set
- The sponge needs to cool down before building the cake up
- After assembling the first layer of sponge + cream cheese mousse, pop the cake into the freezer to set before building the second layer of sponge + cream cheese mousse on top
- And then comes the hardest part, let the whole cake rest with the mousse ring on it in the fridge for minimum 4 hours. Patience is not my strength neither but believe me, it is worth to wait
- Regarding the decoration, the mousse that you use as decoration also needs to set in the fridge. It will achieve a pipeable consistency after 4 hours chilling time
- Make sure you do not remove the mousse ring and cake collar in the first 4 hours, this is how long time it takes for the mousse to set
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Now let´s see the recipe of this Carrot mousse cake!
Carrot mousse cake
- 160 g AP flour
- ½ teaspoon Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoon Pumpkin spice DYI pumpkin spice recipe in here
- 100 g Granulated sugar
- 50 g Brown sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 170 g Vegetable oil
- 200 g Carrot peeled and freshly shredded
- 50 g Pecan Toasted & Chopped. Walnut works too
Cream cheese mousse
- 5 Gelatine sheet
- 120 g Heavy Cream
- 130 g Granulated sugar
- 10 g Lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 400 g Cream cheese ex. Philadelphia
- 360 g Heavy Cream
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla bean paste
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Heat oven to 180 C / 356°F
- Prepare a 2 x 18 cm / 7 inches pan with parchment paper
- With an Electric hand mixer beat together room temperature egg, oil, granulated sugar and brown sugar for a minute or two
- Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice, salt) and fold into wet ingredients then fold shredded carrot and chopped pecan in with the help of a Rubber spatula
- Pour cake batter into cake pans. Make sure they weight equal, use a digital scale
- Bake for 20 min or until skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean
- Cool them on Cooling rack
- Once cakes are cooled, trim 1-2cm off around the edges on one of them, keep the other one as it is. Pop them into the freezer for 5-10 minutes before assembling the cake
Cream cheese mousse
- Soak gelatins into cold water
- Heat cream (the first cream that is 120g) with sugar on low medium heat until simmering
- Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into hot cream then mix in the lemon juice. It won’t taste lemon but the lemon balances the flavours; Let it cool to room temperature. Do not place it into the fride as gelatin tends to form lumps if cools to quickly
- Whip heavy cream until soft peaks and very gently, using a Rubber spatula fold into the cream cheese mixture. It must stay light and fluffy
- Assemble the mousse ring and set it to 18 cm / 7 inch in diameter (Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size)) just as the size of the larger sponge
- For a neat looking, smooth side surface use Acetate cake collar within the mousse ring
- Start to build up the cake from bottom to top
- Place the larger, 18 cm / 7 inch diameter sponge into the mousse ring then with the help of a Piping bag pipe approx. 2cm cream cheese mousse on top. Pop it into the freezer for 5 minutes
- Place the smaller carrot cake sponge on top then pipe cream cheese mousse around and also another 2cm on top and smooth the top of the cream with an Offset spatula. Make sure you leave some mousse for later usage decorating the cake
- Place the cake and the leftover mousse into the fridge to set for minimum 4 hours
- Once cake fully set, carefully remove the mousse ring and cake collar