carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten-free + vegan)

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
 

Step-by-step frosting photos for ya:

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn
carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and date caramel (gluten free, dairy free) | marina gunn

There are few people as dedicated and loving as my friend Avery Hudson. She is loyal, loving, and steadfast in her friendship and uplifting nature. AKA she makes everyone feel like a super star. So when she asked me last week to make her mom a carrot cake, I was so so excited!!! Because in a lot of ways, Avery is a carrot cake:

  • Sweet, but savory when most needed.

  • Supportive/Dense, but in the best “I’ll-support-you-no-matter-what” kind of way

  • Cozy + cinnamony/spicy, the kind that makes you think of the Holidays and all your favorite memories (kind of like your favorite Bath + Body Works candle)

  • Always shows up at the best time to surprise you! “Oh it’s a cake but with carrots so it’s even more nutritious.” Avery always is around when you need her the most.

A few years ago she said “To be a good friend, you just have to show up.” Frank and I have repeated that to ourselves over and over after long days and pending social plans. Sometimes you just have to show up and be there, no matter how good or bad your day was. Yay, go Avery with all the wisdom!

The carrot cake recipe I chose is from Minimalist baker and was recommended by some baker friends. I got to baking Saturday morning as this was, in fact, my first carrot cake and I took some pointers from Molly Yeh on her cake decor and from Dana with her gluten-free and dairy-free recipe and got to it. Recipe below!


carrot cake with cream cheese frosting + date caramel

makes a two 8-inch layer cake

*cake recipe + vegan cream cheese frosting from minimalist baker, *date caramel from sweet laurel

Instructions

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round pans with coconut oil or vegan cooking spray and dust with gluten-free flour. Shake out excess. Set aside.

Prepare flax eggs in a large mixing bowl. To flax eggs, add oil and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Next, add applesauce, sugars, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon and whisk to combine.

Add 3/4 cup of almond milk. Add grated carrot and stir. Add almond flour and gluten-free flour blend and stir.

Divide evenly among cake pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Remove from oven and let rest in the pans for 15 minutes. Then carefully run a knife along the edges and gently invert onto cooling racks to let cool completely.

Once cooled, you can serve as is or frost!

Store leftovers at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or covered well in the freezer for several weeks. However, it's best when eaten fresh.

For the cream cheese frosting:

To a large mixing bowl, add softened butter and beat or whisk vigorously to combine. Then add vegan cream cheese and mix again until creamy and smooth.

Add sifted powdered sugar in 1 cup increments until thick and spreadable and to desired sweetness.

You want this frosting to be pretty thick so it won’t slide around, so keep adding powdered sugar until it reaches the right consistency.

Refrigerate cake after frosting to keep fresh (up to 5 days). Enjoy!

For the caramel:

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Top your cake with the caramel + shaved carrots or extra nuts you have in the pantry.

The caramel will keep for about 1 month, refrigerated.

Enjoy!

Ingredient

For the cake:

3 batches flax egg (3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 7 ½ Tbsp water)

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 scant cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

1/4 cup cane sugar

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 plain unsweetened almond milk

1 1 /2 cups loosely packed grated carrot

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend

For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 cup vegan butter (softened to room temperature)

8-ounce container vegan cream cheese (slightly softened)

3 - 5 cups sifted organic powdered sugar

For the caramel:

1/4 cup almond or cashew butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

2 fresh dates, pitted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch Himalayan pink salt


- Marina

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