Paleo Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
Yes, this cake is dairy-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, and Paleo-friendly but DON’T let this fool you into thinking it’s also flavor-free, fun-free, and enjoyment-free. While I can’t tell you that it tastes EXACTLY like the carrot cake your grandmother made (you’d need actual cream cheese for that), I can tell you that it’s still DARN GOOD. Darn good for Paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and all other cakes. I argue that this pretty pastry will even stand up to the other desserts at your potluck family reunion. Folks will be gobbling up bite after bite, exclaiming how much they “love your carrot cake! …it’s so moist!” It’s lovable, moist, wonderfully dense, totally delicious, and a more benign dessert option than it’s wheat-filled cousin. Still a dessert, but a dessert with fewer consequences.
The dairy-free cream cheese frosting will blow you away. Soaked cashews work their magic with some palm shortening, honey, and a tiny amount of lemon juice plus apple cider vinegar (for that familiar cream cheese bite). Note that if you don’t soak the cashews long enough or blend the frosting exceptionally well, it may stay slightly lumpy. Though it could take a little practice to the get frosting texture perfect, know that the flavors are easy to master. I like to top my cake with a generous pile of roughly chopped walnuts for extra crunch and flavor. Chopped pecans, shredded carrots, or even toasted unsweetened shredded coconut would all be marvelous toppers as well! Top your cake as your heart desires.
Also note, if you tolerate dairy well, I completely support you using real-deal cream cheese frosting on this cake. For an easy recipe, just mix some softened cream cheese with honey, a little fresh lemon juice, and a little vanilla extract. Add a touch of water, coconut milk, or full-fat cow’s milk as it needs thinning until you get the consistency you like.
Other ways you can make simple modifications to this cake: add raisins, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut to the batter itself. These additions shouldn’t have an impact on the chemistry or baking time, so have some fun with it!
Enjoy and please, come back and tell me how you’ve made this cake your own! I love reading about your own creations.
Carrot Cake with Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 12 servings
Total Time: 1 hour
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 cup arrowroot
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon all spice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup smooth almond butter
- 3 cups carrots (about 4), finely shredded
- 6 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup palm shortening (may substitute with ghee or extra virgin coconut oil)
- ¾ cup honey
Faux Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 1/4 cups cashews, raw, soaked (for at about 6 hours), and drained
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons palm shortening (may substitute with ghee)
- 4 1/2 teaspoons coconut flour
- 3/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups walnuts, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 300 F and place a circle of cut parchment paper in the bottom of two 9” round cake pans.
- Whisk all the dry ingredients together.
- In a mixer, combine all the wet ingredients, including the carrots, until smooth.
- Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix until evenly incorporated.
- Separate the cake batter evenly into the two cake pans.
- Bake at 300 F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Faux Cream Cheese Frosting
- Combine all the ingredients (minus the walnuts) together in a food processor until smooth.
- Spoon into bowl and set aside until the cakes are cooled.
- When the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool completely before frosting.
- Once cakes are at room temperature, lay one cake on a platter and then evenly spread 1/3 of the frosting over the top-facing portion.
- Carefully lay the other cake on top.
- Spread the rest of the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the entire cake.
- Top with walnuts, slice, and serve.
- Keep refrigerated for up to one week.