After a long couple of months, having moved across the country from Champaign, Illinois to Bellevue, Washington, I’m back…and I come bearing cake! What better way to celebrate a new home, in a new city, than with a decadent carrot cake. A little comfort food to help me settle back into my life. I’m excited to be living in the Pacific Northwest, an area I’ve never experienced. It’s beautiful! Although we’ve only hit up one vegan/vegetarian joint in Seattle thus far, I’m excited for all of the people, restaurants and food that this city has to offer. I think this will be a good year for me to expand my horizons and hopefully bring a big, fat v-gasm to the west coast.
Ok…back to business! Here is my twist on carrot cake. The added fruit not only tastes great, but keeps the cake super moist. I wanted to try adding figs as opposed to the standard raisins. As for the frosting, cardamom is in the ginger family and when used sparingly, taste wonderful with vanilla. This is definitely a rich dessert, but that’s kinda the way I like it. If you’ve ever tried Magnolia Bakery in New York City (not vegan) you’ll know what I’m talking about. If I’m gonna eat dessert, I wanna eat DESSERT. Am I right, or am I right?
Crystalized Ginger & Candied Walnuts:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated vegan sugar
1 cup fresh ginger (peeled and sliced into thin strips)
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling, add in the ginger pieces. Stir and reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. Carefully strain the sugar water into a glass container and transfer the ginger pieces to a cooling rack set on top of some parchment paper or a baking sheet.
Once the ginger is cooled, place it into a bowl with about 1 cup of granulated sugar. Toss to coat.
Pour the sugar water back into the saucepan and return to a boil. Add in the walnuts, then reduce the heat to gently boil for about 10 minutes. Be sure to watch the saucepan to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Pour the walnuts and liquid onto a baking sheet lined with either a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Make sure all of the walnuts are in a single layer, then set aside to cool. You can stick this in the fridge to help it cool faster.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup dried figs (chopped)
1/2 cup fresh pineapple (finely chopped)
1/2 cup raw walnuts (finely chopped)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease (2) 9-inch springform cake pans (I chose to do (3) 6-inch pans so I would have 3 smaller layers of cake)
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and sea salt.
In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk, vanilla extract, canola oil and maple syrup. Whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir with a spatula. Don’t over mix! Fold in the shredded carrot, figs, pineapple and walnuts.
Evenly distribute the batter into the cake pans and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer cakes to a cooling rack and allow them to cool in the pans for about 15 minutes before removing them from the springforms to cool all the way.
Vanilla-Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. tofu cream cheese
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cardamom
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together the tofu cream cheese, vanilla and cardamom. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Continue mixing until well incorporated.
When putting together the cake, it helps to shave off the top of each layer to make them level. Spread a layer of frosting between the layers and stack them. Place the stacked cake in the fridge to allow the icing to harden a bit before frosting the entire cake.
Garnish the top of the cake with some candied walnuts and crystalized ginger. Since the ginger is pretty strong, I like to chop mine up even smaller before sprinkling it on top.