This Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is ridiculously tasty, perfectly spiced, ultra moist, and tastes completely indulgent. It can be our secret this cake is actually free of refined sugars, dairy-free, gluten-free, and there's no flour needed.
PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside for now.
CAKE: Add the cashews, oats, maple syrup, and coconut oil (measured when melted) to a large powerful blender (Blend-tec/Vitamix) and blend until fairly smooth, 60 seconds. Add in the rest of the cake ingredients EXCEPT the carrots. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 6-90 seconds. Stop and scrape down edges as needed. Meanwhile, grate carrots on the small side of the grater and measure to get 1 full cup. Gently stir the carrots into the batter in the blender and then pour the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to scrape out every bit.
BAKE: Smooth the top with the spatula and bake for 28-34 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned at the edges and set in the middle (toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). (32 mins is perfect in my oven!)
OPTIONAL FROSTING: Meanwhile, place softened cream cheese in a large bowl. (Give it ample time to warm to room temperature so your frosting isn't chunky.) Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar (beating in between additions) until smooth and creamy and to your desired consistency. Add milk and beat until smooth.
DECORATE: Frost the completely cooled cake evenly with the frosting. If desired, top the frosting with chopped pecans.
Note 1: Blender: You'll need a good, powerful blender (think Blendtec® or Vitamix®) to break down the cashews without over-heating the machine.Note 2: Cashews: We love dry-roasted and lightly salted cashews best — more flavor without any extra effort on your part. (Here's what we use in this cake.)Note 3: Oats: Although it would make sense that any oats would work since they’re getting blended anyways, it’s important to use old-fashioned to ensure you get the right measurement. Both quick and steel-cut oats are smaller, denser, and more compact so measurements would be off and the cake would end up too dry.Note 4:Pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener (unlike corn syrup or pancake syrup) made from the sap of a maple tree, which is boiled down to a thicker consistency. I don't recommend any substitutes. Note 5: Corn starch: This is an important ingredient since we aren't using flour and need some additional support and thickness.Nutrition information does not include the optional cream cheese frosting. With the frosting, one serving of this cake is 241 calories.