What’s your favorite cake? Mine is hands-down carrot cake. I simply can’t resist its sweet, toothsome texture and tangy cream cheese frosting. If you haven’t tried it because you think dessert + vegetables = wrong, I beg you to give it a try.
This version is not only gluten free, but also grain free, thanks to almond flour. I chose to make it a sheet cake, which seemed appropriately special-yet-relaxed for the occasion: my dad’s birthday. However, it would be very easy to turn this into a round layer cake or cupcakes – whatever suits your fancy.
Carrot cake’s naturally hearty texture lends itself well to gluten-free adaptations; because of this, I decided to go one step further and make it completely grain-free. The result was sublime: still hearty – yet fluffy – and incredibly soft and tender. I didn’t alter the traditional cream cheese frosting very much, because hey, it’s the best part – and there aren’t too many ways to make a combination of cream cheese, butter, and sugar “healthy” (although I did cut out about half of the standard amount of sugar). So, save this for a special occasion, or maybe just a “treat yo self” kind of day.
Disclaimer: this recipe doesn’t easily adapt to a vegan diet. A key part of the recipe is eggs, and although I would assume a combination of flax seeds, applesauce, and oil would more than adequately, I haven’t tried it yet. This cake does, however, contain a generous amount of protein, especially for a dessert. At 7 grams, one slice contains more protein than an egg! So dig in and enjoy – whether you’re a carrot cake newbie or a seasoned vet, it surely will not disappoint.
- 12 oz carrots, peeled with ends removed (about 3-4 large carrots)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 tbsp dark maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 9 oz almond flour or almond meal (or 2 cups firmly packed)
- 6 oz coconut sugar (about 1 cup, cane sugar also works)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 8oz cream cheese (non-dairy works well, too)
- 1 stick butter (again, non-dairy if necessary)
- 2 tbsps maple syrup
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon zest, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan with wax paper and set aside.
- Using a food processor, grate the carrots and place in a small bowl. Next, pulse the pecans in the food processor until they are chopped into small pieces. Add the pecans to the carrots and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Add maple syrup and vanilla, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Then, add in the egg mixture and stir until well-combined. Finally, fold in the carrot and pecan mixture. Once the batter is fully combined, pour into the prepared baking pan and bake until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool before frosting.
- With an electric mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Smooth over the cooled cake, and serve.
- Nutrition information for one slice. Calories - 317. Fat - 19g (Saturated Fat - 6g; Monounsaturated Fat - 4g; Polyunsaturated Fat - 1g). Carbs - 33g (Dietary Fiber - 3g; Sugars - 28g). Protein - 7g.