I would take chocolate over any dessert any time. BUT this raw carrot cake is delicious! Maybe it’s the sweet moist cinnamon-y bread. Or the thick lemony vanilla icing. Whatever it is, it’s amazingly similar in taste and texture to the baked version of a carrot cake. However, unlike the real deal carrot cake, this raw carrot cake is healthy and super easy to make.
I recently took a trip to Europe where I visited several of my favorite raw food cafes and restaurants. Since I don’t eat out all the often, it’s always a grand experience for me. I love experiencing the smell of food as I step into the cafe, sitting down at the table, exchanging my first words with the server, and opening the menu. Raw food cafes are particularly appealing to me because they offer a wonderful range of raw desserts, smoothies, juices, and herbal teas.
One of the raw food cafes I visited this year was located in Prague. The first thing I noticed on the menu was a beautiful photo of a raw carrot cake. Since I had never had raw carrot cake before, I immediately knew what I was gonna order. As soon as I placed my order, I could feel my expectations rising. I’m normally excited about raw food, but raw desserts – hold me back!
When the server put the raw carrot cake in front of me, I was in awe. It looked so beautiful and absolutely indistinguishable from the classic baked carrot cake I know. I just hoped the taste and texture would be just as incredible and … it was. I couldn’t even tell this carrot cake was raw. The carrot flavor was completely overpowered by the warm embrace of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It was moist and tender, but not so much that it fell apart into a million crumbs. Just amazing.
Tips for Making Raw Carrot Cake
The base of this carrot cake utilizes a natural sweetness of carrots and dates, a flour-like texture of ground and desiccated coconut, and a textural contrast of nuts. I am very pro-nuts in this cake because nuts add a bit of savouriness that help the spices balance all the sweetness.
Speaking of spices – some people actually call carrot a spice cake because of all the bold spices it contains. The heady flavors and scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger should take center stage. Make sure the spices are fresh because that’s what you’ll taste the most in this cake.
The frosting is similar to a raw cheesecake filling. For the cream-like consistency, I use cashews because of their neutral (slightly sweet) flavor and a wonderfully smooth texture. Mixed together with some coconut milk and maple syrup, the icing becomes thick and lightly sweet. The coconut oil is essential in the icing as well as it creates a texture that melts in your mouth. It’s also one of the reasons you should keep this cake in the fridge (since coconut oil becomes liquid at a room temperature).
Because this carrot cake is raw, the flavor of carrots is quite prominent. However, despite the name of this cake, carrots shouldn’t be the starring player in the recipe. Their main role is to moisten the cake and add texture. So, use a small setting of your box grater or food processor’s grating attachment to turn the carrots into fluffy pieces. Aim for light and airy.
The first time I made this raw carrot cake, I made it into a traditional style layer cake. It looked beautiful, but it was too much work. So, the second time I made it, I turned it into a simple two-layer carrot cake with icing just on the top. However, since carrot cake is known to be quite tall, I also used a smaller spring-loaded pan to make it – a 6″ (15 cm) tall spring-loaded pan works great for this recipe.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Blender (Vitamix 5200) | 3. Spring-Loaded Pan (6-Inch. Wilton, Coated Steel) | 4. Measuring Cup (4 Cups, Pyrex, Glass) | 5. Mesh Strainers (Set of 3, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel) | 6. Can Opener (Zyliss, Stainless Steel) | 7. Offset Spatula (Wilton, Stainless Steel) | 8. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) | 9. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel)
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- 2 cups raw walnuts
- 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 lemon, zest only
- 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 cups carrots, finely grated*
- pinch fine sea salt
Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground. Be careful not to over-process the walnuts. They should still retain some of their texture.
Add the desiccated coconut, coconut flour, spices, salt, lemon zest, and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the coconut oil, lemon juice and, vanilla extract, and pulse to combine.
Add one date at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while the food processor is running. The carrot cake mixture should be a little bit crumbly, but stick together when pressed in between your fingers. Finally, fold in the carrots.
Press the mixture into a greased 6" (15 cm) spring form. If you are using anything other than a spring form, line it with parchment paper for an easier removal. Place the carrot cake base in a freezer while you make the icing.
Add the cashews, coconut milk, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and salt into a high-speed blender. Blend on high until the icing is smooth and creamy.
Remove the spring form from the freezer and spread the icing on top of the carrot cake base. Place the cake back into the freezer for about 4 hours to let the frosting firm up.
Once set, remove the cheesecake from the spring-loaded pan. Serve it frozen or let it thaw at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Store leftover carrot cake in an airtight container in the freezer for 1-2 weeks.
*Squeeze out any excess juice from the carrots. If the carrots are too wet, they will make the cake too moist and dense.
**Soak the cashews in water for at least 8 hours (or overnight) so they soften up and are easy to blend. To quick-soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews and soak for 1 hour uncovered. When the cashews are done soaking, drain the water and rinse the cashews thoroughly. (Note: if you do the quick soak, the carrot cake will no longer be raw).
***Prep time does not include soaking the cashews (8 hours).