One of my favorite parts about the changing seasons is the whole new palette of seasonal ingredients I get to play around with in my cooking and baking.
A little flavor refresh is always an exciting way to switch up the typical menu and introduce new foods and recipes. Out of all the seasons, spring produce delivers some of my favorite bright flavors, and we all know that carrot cake is the quintessential spring dessert.
I made this easy carrot cake with a little bit of a twist by incorporating hazelnuts and topping it with a healthier vanilla cashew frosting. For this recipe, you’ll want to start by making the frosting since the cashews need to soak for a few hours before they’re ready to be used.
I love a good cream cheese frosting, but I’ve yet to find a vegan cream cheese that really wows me, so I decided to put my own little twist on this recipe by making it with vanilla cashew frosting. Instead of heavier butter or cream cheese options, the base of this frosting is raw cashews which give the cake a whole new layer of perfectly sweet, nutty, and creamy flavor.
When making your frosting, soak your cashews for a couple of hours to allow them to soften. Trust me, this will make things much easier for you when it comes time to blend. to It’s also super important to blend the ingredients until they form a paste that’s completely creamy. I got a liiiittle impatient in the first couple of go’s and they turned out sad and lumpy. Not great.
For the cake itself, you’ll start with your wet ingredients. Melt both sugars, coconut oil, and cashew milk together in a saucepan. Once all of your dry ingredients are sifted together, pour the wet mixture into the dry and add the rest of the good stuff.
I’m usually all about the sweet add-ins like chocolate chips, but my family loves nuts in their desserts so I took one for the team and it ended up being the best decision. The buttery, sweet crunch of hazelnuts added the perfect, decedent bite to the layers of the cake and brought all the flavors together.
When your cake is completely cooled, you can frost and decorate with whatever garnishes you choose. I sprinkled mine with some more crushed hazelnuts, but you can also opt for fresh grated carrot, cashews, or even candied carrot curls.
Hazelnut Carrot Cake with Vegan Cashew Frosting
Takes , Serves 12.
- 1 Cup Organic Cane Sugar (200g)
- 1 Cup Coconut Sugar (200g)
- ¾ Cup Coconut Oil (157g)
- 1 Cup Almond Milk (8 oz)
- 2½ Cups All-Purpose Flour (315g)
- 1½ tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1½ TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract
- 4 Flax Eggs*
- 3 Cups Grated Carrots (340g)
- ⅔ Cup Chopped Hazelnuts (100g)
- 2 Cups Raw Unsalted Cashews Soaked Overnight (300g)
- 1½ TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 TBSP Coconut Cream
- 4 TBSP Cashew or Almond Milk
- 4 Cups Organic Powdered Sugar (500g)
- For Cashew Frosting: In a large bowl, soak raw, unsalted cashews in water overnight (or for at least 6 hours). After soaking is complete, rinse and drain cashews. Place cashews, vanilla extract, coconut cream, cashew milk, and powdered sugar in a high power blender and blend until completely smooth.** Chill in fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease two 8-inch round cake pans with coconut oil.
- To a medium saucepan, add cane sugar, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and cashew milk. Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift in all-purpose flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add in salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Slowly pour the melted sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. At this time, also add flax eggs, vanilla extract, grated carrots, and hazelnuts. Stir mixture until just combined.
- Pour mixture evenly between two 8-inch round cake pans and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.
- After completely cooled, frost the cake and add any additional garnishes of your choosing.
* To make a flax egg, mix one TBSP of flax meal with 2 TBSP of warm water. Let this mixture rest for around five minutes to form a gel-like consistency.
**If the frosting is too liquidy, add more powdered sugar 1 TBSP at a time until you reach the desired consistency.