Oh, carrot cake! Ya either love it or you hate it and if you couldn't tell already, I am a serious fan - some people just can't get over the fact that there is a vegetable in their dessert but this one isn't for those people, it's for those of you who are on team carrot! My version of this classic is actually a hybrid bran muffin/carrot cake that is not only plant based and healthy (there's no oil or refined sugar) but also addictively delicious - I *might* have eating 4 in one sitting.
Best part is, this recipe is simple - one bowl, optional icing, 30 minutes and you have yourself a happy little muffin party!
Every year my Mom made me a big, tiered carrot cakefor my spring birthday so I link the flavors with this season. I LOVED it so much, I remember eating spoonfuls of batter and sneaking finger globs of icing from the fridge as it chilled. Luckily I didn't have one of those moms who was paranoid about her kids eating raw eggs but they best part is now you can eat this batter without any hint of worry (and you better believe I did). The spiced cake, the moist texture, the earthy sweetness combined with tangy cream cheese icing - it's about time I made a healthy, easy, vegan version of my childhood favorite.
The muffin itself can be enjoyed as a snack, breakfast or dessert! The texture is fluffy, light and moist thanks to a combination of spelt flour (spelt is an ancient, heartier ancestor of wheat) and oat bran. I used apple sauce and a plant based yogurt in leu of oil and it worked out so well here. I love taking a bite of this muffin to be hit with so many flavors and textures - sweet raisins, crunchy walnuts, earthy carrot, , chewy coconut, spicy cinnamon, tart lemon - YUM!
A little note on 'flax eggs' and why I rarely use them in my recipes: A 'flax egg' is a plant based egg substitute frequently used in vegan baking. While I love the use of ground flax seed for it's health purposes, I hate baking with flax eggs because I feel that they add an unnecessary gloppy dampness to any finished product no matter how long you cook it for. I always try to craft recipes without them - needless to say, no flax egg here and the end result is just lovely.
This was my first time trying a cashew cream cheese icing so I can't speak to whether it is the best thing out there - but I sure enjoyed the whipped texture and tangy flavor. Knowing that I am consuming compassionately outweighs any desire for 'real' dairy at this point in my journey.
Let me know if you try these muffins this spring!
Makes: 12 muffins • Prep Time: 10 min • Cook Time: 18-20 min
Carrot Cake Muffins
- 1 & 1/4 cup spelt flour (I would imagine whole wheat flour or gluten free 1 to 1 replacement would work just as well here)
- 1/2 cup oat bran
- 3/4 cup packed coconut sugar (or sub light brown sugar)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom (or a few tsp.'s of pumpkin pie spice if you're lazy)
- 1/2 tsp. pink salt
- 1/2 cup plain unsweetened plant-based yogurt (I used cashew yogurt, but soy or almond yogurt would be fine here too)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup plant milk (I used cashew, on a roll with the cashew here)
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups packed grated carrot
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Cashew Cream Cheese Icing
- 1/4 cup plant-based yogurt (I used cashew yogurt or sub coconut cream)
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in hot water for at least 1 hour
- the juice of one whole lemon
- 2-3 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp. plant milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. To make the muffins, first preheat your oven to 400* F and grate your carrots till you reach 1.5 packed cups (apx. 2-3 carrots)
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. Add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl and stir gently just till fully integrated and combined - then fold in the grated carrot, raisins and nuts so that they are evenly incorporated into the batter. The batter should appear pretty thick!
4. Divide into a lined muffin tin and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, using a toothpick to check doneness.
5. Allow to cool completely! I do not recommend eating these straight out of the oven, as with most vegan baking, these muffins need to cool in order to set up properly. Personally, I think they were even better after being chilled in the fridge the next day.
1. To make the icing, soak 1/2 cup cashews in hot water for at least 1 hour (or in cool water overnight)
2. Rinse and drain the cashews and add the your food processor or blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend till light and fluffy, scraping down the sides intermittently to ensure even texture.
3. Add the icing to a container and chill in the fridge
NOTE: I made the icing while the muffins cooked, the timing worked out perfectly.
LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN