Thursday 5 April 2012

Heirloom Carrot Cake (Gluten-Free) with Creamy Coconut Milk Drizzle

Recently I’ve become enamored with vegetables. I can’t seem to get enough greens (kale and I are in a long-term relationship). What I love about vegetables is how they love you back when you eat them – skin glows, hair shines, energy abounds and life is digested with ease. A love affair with vegetables is the answer when balancing the equally-important occasional indulgence in buttery baked goods. I’ve been experimenting with incorporating vegetables and alternative grains into my baking. I've tried Dinner With Julie's black bean brownies, for instance, as well as Naturally Ella's pumpkin pie millet porridge. There are so many options available today to supplement or replace traditional ingredients without compromising on flavour. This Heirloom Carrot Cake is chock full of pleasantly plump raisins, golden-toasted walnuts, coconut and spice, all naturally sweetened with honey and topped with a creamy coconut milk drizzle.

When I go grocery shopping, I find pleasure in colouring my basket with produce. I found these heirloom carrots at a local specialty greengrocer and thrilled at how they broadened the colour (and taste) palate of my purchases.

The carrots are grated (I used my food processor) into a rainbow of shreds.

Eggs are whisked until frothy. The carrots, shredded coconut, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and honey are mixed in. 

A combination of coconut flour (a slightly sweet protein and fibre-rich flour made from the meat of coconuts) and rice flour are added along with toasted walnuts, shredded coconut and organic raisins.

The batter is evenly spread in a parchment-lined 9” baking pan. It feels heavy and thick, but not to worry, it will rise nicely.

The cake is baked in a 325F oven for about 40 min, or until slightly golden with a top that is firm to the touch. The smell is intoxicating. The cake is then allowed to cool completely in the pan before it is carefully removed - sliding it onto a plate is best.

Since I had opened a can of coconut milk for the batter, I decided to use it as a topping as well. The clear liquid is drained and the remaining cream is whipped until slightly thickened. Tapioca starch and a scant 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar sweeten and stabilize it further.

The cream is then stored in the fridge for a few hours and brought to room temperature before being lovingly drizzled atop the carrot cake and left on the table for further dolloping.

Heirloom Carrot Cake (Gluten Free) with Creamy Coconut Milk Drizzle – adapted from Kelly at The Spunky Coconut

OVEN: 325F


4 eggs, at room temperature
3 CUPS shredded heirloom carrots (a food processor is great for this)
¼ CUP shredded coconut
½ CUP coconut milk
¼ CUP pumpkin puree
¼ CUP liquid honey
¼ CUP coconut oil
½ TSP vanilla extract
½ TSP coconut extract
2/3 CUP coconut flour
¼ CUP rice flour
1 TSP baking soda
½ TSP salt
1 TSP cinnamon
½ TSP ground cloves
½ TSP ground allspice
1 CUP chopped walnuts, toasted
1 CUP raisins


1 CUP coconut milk
2 TBSP tapioca starch
3 TBSP confectioner’s sugar
¼ TSP vanilla extract
¼ TSP coconut extract

Whisk eggs until frothy. Add carrots, coconut, coconut milk, pumpkin, honey, coconut oil and extracts. Combine.

Sift coconut and rice flours with additional dry ingredients. Toss toasted walnuts (let them toast until fragrant on a dry frying pan on high heat) and raisins in flour mixture to coat and add dry ingredients to the liquid mixture, stirring until just combined.

Using a spatula, evenly distribute the batter (it will be thick and slightly heavy) into a parchment-lined (bottom only) 9” springform pan.

Bake at 325F for approximately 40 minutes, or until top is slightly golden and the top of the cake is firm to the touch.

Allow the cake to cool completely before carefully removing from the pan. It is easiest to slide it gently onto a plate using the parchment on the bottom.

For the drizzle, drain the clear liquid from the coconut milk and whisk the remaining cream until slightly thickened. Whisk in extracts, starch and confectioner’s sugar until dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to use, allowing the drizzle to come to room temperature before serving with the cake.

Enjoy. This cake tastes like indulgence feels, without the guilt. You will want to put the drizzle on everything or eat it out of the jar with a spoon – it is that good.


  1. Are these all really colorful carrots? :) Wow!

    1. I know! Aren't they beautiful? I tend to get very excited when buying produce. When I found these, it was love at first sight - had to buy them and come up with a fun way to use them. I am always astounded by the colours nature comes up with - it moves me.

  2. I am in love with the heirloom carrots, so colorful! I guess we were both in a coconut phase (the state of coconut?) - I love its complementary use in the starch and the cream, it is a strangely satisfying kind of harmony! The cake turned out beautifully (I remain gluten-free baking challenged).

    1. Thanks Kat! I spent a year on a very restrictive diet so had to learn to get creative with alternative flours, etc. There's a bit of a learning curve, but it's a fun process - I like the challenge of taking a dessert and re-interpreting it to be allergen free (but still delicious). I like this idea of a state of coconut, almost like it's a way of being and a place. I would live there, or at least vacation there frequently.

  3. Love the colors of the carrots! Colors make me very happy. You have some beautiful pictures here, my friend, seriously beautiful! I've never tried carrot cake with the coconut flavor profile in it but it looks darn delicious, especially that creamy thick coconut drizzle on top!

    1. Colours make me happy too - as you can see by the bright red accent wall in my kitchen. I especially love colours in nature. In the spring, I'm always exclaiming "But it's so GREEN!!!" like it's a new thing each year. :) The carrot cake/coconut combo is a winner - the flavours work really harmoniously together. Try it!

  4. This looks and sounds great; very interesting with the coconut!

  5. Three cheers for heirlooms. I have found only the purple carrots here in Germany but I used to grow the full spectrum when I had a garden. We are in a healthy baking phase at the moment and I like the idea of this cake. Also have been into coconut lately... must be a trend :-) I just had coconut oil on my popcorn last night. Not too shabby.