Made with good-for-you ingredients, this carrot cake with marshmallow cream cheese frosting is a decadent, moist, and delicious family favorite!
I was never much of a carrot cake person until I met my husband. Carrot cake is literally his favorite dessert (I know, what about cooooooooookies????).
Eventually, I began to see the light and he successfully converted me to being a carrot cake lover as well. I really do love it, so long as there are no nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut pieces involved (I’m a carrot cake purist).
Now that we’ve been married for quite a while, I decided it was time to create my own version of this family favorite.
I’ve been playing around with this carrot cake with marshmallow cream cheese frosting for a few months in preparation for my husband’s birthday and Easter (read: batches and batches of cake that we happily had to taste test).
Just in time, I think I’ve finally got the recipe just right! This cake is moist, decadent, and perfectly paired with a fluffy and rich marshmallow cream cheese frosting. It is spring time in a bite and happiness in cake form!
carrot cake with good-for-you ingredients
This carrot cake is free from dairy, suger, and gluten. It’s moist, delicious, and best of all? You’ll never be able to tell that it’s made with better-for-you ingredients:
- coconut oil (I like to use expeller-pressed coconut oil because it does not have a coconutty taste)
- maple syrup
- almond milk (cashew milk also work really well in this recipe! You could also use regular cows milk.)
- vanilla extract
- shredded carrots
- coconut sugar
- almond flour
- tapioca flour (arrowroot powder works really well here, too.)
- coconut flour
- baking soda
- baking powder
- sea salt
marshmallow cream cheese frosting (that doesn’t taste like coconut)
I’m a little bit sensative to dairy, so I thought it would be a fun challenge to see if I could figure out a way to make a dairy-free cream cheese frosting. Most dairy-free cream cheese frosting recipes I found use coconut milk or coconut cream. Coconut milk and coconut cream give that creamy texture I was looking for. However, I really wanted to avoid a coconutty taste in this recipe (again, I’m a purist!).
Sometimes you just can’t replace the real thing. Happily, in this case, I think I’ve come up with a winning recipe! My kids couldn’t stop licking this frosting off their fingers, and you can’t even tell it’s dairy-free.
I found that I could make a nice, fluffy frosting by first creating a marshmallow base. Then, I added in vegan butter and dairy-free cream cheese. The result is magic!
This marshmallow cream cheese frosting is the perfect companion to the carrot cake. Here’s what you’ll need:
- gelatin (this helps form the marshmallow base of the frosting)
- honey (try to find a lighter colored honey, such as clover)
- butter (I used Miyokos vegan butter in this recipe. Regular dairy butter should work well here, too.)
- cream cheese (I used Kite Hill dairy-free plain cream cheese. Regular dairy cream cheese should work well here, too.)
- vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
tips and tidbits
- To prevent the cake sticking to the pan, line your cake pans with coconut oil and then place a piece of parchement paper on the bottom of the cake pan. (Place your cake pan on a piece of parchement paper, and trace the cake pan. Then cut out your parchement paper along the traced lines, and set it on the bottom of the pan. This will make it easier for the cake to release from the pan when it is done cooking and has cooled.
- I find it’s much easier to frost the cake when it’s frozen. After you bake your cake, let it cool completely. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer over night. When you’re ready to frost, simply take the cake out of the freezer and remove the plastic wrap.
- This frosting has a little bit of texture to it. However, if your butter and cream cheese don’t incorporate into the marshmallow base well, refrigerate the frosting for about 20 minutes, and then mix again. This should help any extra little chunks incorporate into the mixture.
- The cake holds up well at room temperature, but we enjoy it best when it’s been refrigerated and is a little bit cold.
carrot cake optional add-ins
Although I love a plain, crunch-free carrot cake, this recipe is wonderfully versatile. Feel free to add in anything your heart desires to fulfill your own carrot cake dreams! Shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, raisins, or orange zest would all be delicious add-ins to this carrot cake.
- For the Cake:
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (see Note 1)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cups shredded carrots (about 2 large carrots, finely shredded in a food processer)
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour (or arrowroot powder)
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- For the Frosting:
- 3 tsp gelatin
- 1 cup light-colored raw honey
- 1 cup water
- 8 oz butter (or vegan butter, such as Miyokos brand)
- 8 ox cream cheeze (or dairy-free cream cheese, such as Kite Hill brand)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" cake pans or three 6" cake pans with coconut oil, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper (see Notes 2 and 3).
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add the oil to a mixing bowl.
- Add the maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract to the coconut oil. Stir to combine.
- Once mixture has reached room temperature, add in the 3 eggs. Whisk to combine.
- Stir in the shredded carrots.
- In a separate bowl, add the almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Add the batter to the cake pans, careful to evenly disperse the batter for each cake layer.
- Place the pans in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pans (see Note 4).
- For the frosting, place the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer and add 1/2 cup of the water. Allow the gelatin to bloom for about about ten minutes. .
- Place the remaining 1/2 cup of water and the honey in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Simmer for about 12 minutes, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees.
- Turn the stand mixer on low speed, and slowly pour in the honey to the bloomed gelatin. Once all the honey mixture is added, increase the speed of the mixer to med-high. Coninue to beat for about ten minutes. The mixture will change color from brown to white, and triple in size. Continue to beat until the mixing bowl has returned to room temperature.
- Add in the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt, and beat until well incorporated. If the mixture seems to separate or is not combining well, place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow the frosting to get cold (for at least 20 minutes). Once the frosting is cold, return the bowl to the stand and beat on med-high speed for 5 more minutes. This should help the little chunks become well incorporated. The finished frosting will be slightly textured, but should be decently incorporated and ready to spread on the cake.
- Frost the cake and enjoy!
1) I prefer to use expellar-pressed coconut oil, because it does not have a coconutty taste.
2) Once you've greased your cake pans, place it on a piece of parchement paper, and trace the circumference. Then cut out your parchement paper along the traced lines, and set it on the bottom of the greased pan. This will make it easier for the cake to release from the pan when it is done cooking and has cooled.
3) This recipe makes two 9" cakes, with about 1 1/2" thickness. If you'd like to make a 3 layer cake, I recommend dividing the battter into three 6" cake pans, or doubling the recipe (this will yield a fourth cake layer, which can be saved for later in the freezer).
4) I find it's much easier to frost the cake when it's frozen. After the cake has cooled completely, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer over night. When you're ready to frost, simply take the cake out of the freezer and remove the plastic wrap.
5) The cake and frosting hold up well at room temperature, but is delicious when it has been refrigerated and is a little bit cold.
Are you a carrot cake lover, too? I’d love for you to try this carrot cake with marshmallow cream cheese frosting and see if it converts you to the carrot cake fan club! If you try this recipe, please leave a rating and review!