little raw carrot cakes with orange maple cream {gluten + dairy-free} to celebrate 3 years!

little raw carrot cakes w/ orange maple cream

I find it fascinating to think of how we all have our own special callings in life. What may seem impossible to even comprehend to some, comes naturally to others. Take my friend Aidee for example. She knows how to make films. Yes, films. She also knows how to act and has just produced her first music video for our other friend Anna's new single. Lets be honest, this baffles me. Both the singing part and the making a video part. I wouldn't even know where to begin to undertake such a project. When I started high school I had great musical aspirations; I was first going to learn how to play the guitar, followed by bass guitar and then drums. 
I lasted approximately 2 weeks with guitar lessons before promptly giving up on any dreams I may have had of being a musician, and went back to fascinating about food. That there are actually people who can play the guitar (or any musical instrument for that matter), still blows my mind. That was not my calling, not even close.

I often look at people in awe when they tell me what they do for a living. You're a teacher!? Wow, how do you have the balls to stand up in front of a class full of kids and more importantly... how do you handle that many kids in your face all day! You're a doctor!? Wow, I know you've spent most of your adult life training to do what you do, but really, how do you deal with all the gross bits... and the blood. I'd faint. You're an artist!? Wow, what I would give to have the talent and the discipline you have to create. You lucky thing (yes, brother Louie I'm talking to you!). You what, create and sew clothes!? Me, I can barely hand-stitch a button back onto a shirt. I wouldn't even know where to begin to make something you'd actually be able to wear. How do you do what you do? (Yes, sister Jessie I'm talking to you!). You're a shoemaker!? Wow, I can create many things, but shoes? Nope they are not one of them, you're awesome (Yes, brother Ben I am talking to you!). You're a builder? Respect to you, seriously. You build houses and stuff! Houses! Far out *taking my hat off to you*.

dates
cake prep
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Food has always been my one true love and thankfully cooking comes naturally to me, it always has. Sure there was a time when I was going to give it all up to train as an Ayurvedic practitioner and another time when I made jewellery for extra cash when the kids were little and I thought it might be kinda cool to do some kind of formal training so I could make more professional looking necklaces to sell. But food has always succeeded in pulling me back in. I day-dream of recipes, am constantly thinking of different combinations of flavours and for the first time in a long time, feel like this is my true calling. Writing and sharing my food and stories, right here and in my book (that you'll all get to see early next year).

Tomorrow marks 3 years since I wrote my first post and 7 years of motherhood. Gulp.
3 years ago I would never have been able to imagine what this little space would have turned into and the opportunities it has given me. I get so much joy in sharing all these stories that have been rattling around in my head, and it's the coolest feeling when someone I don't even know cooks one of my recipes and loves it as much as I do. I'm gonna be completely clichéd right now, but this little community that we've created here means so much to me. I read each and every comment from you and I can't thank you enough for the words of encouragement you have all left along the way. 

little raw carrot cakes w/ orange maple cream
little raw carrot cakes w/ orange maple cream
little raw carrot cakes w/ orange maple cream

Now what would a celebration be without cake? After sending Ada off to school this morning with 30 chocolate cupcakes for her early Birthday celebration I wanted to make something for myself, you know to celebrate my 3 years of blogging and to satisfy the sweet cravings I've been having for the past few weeks! You see, I've just finished a full-on 15 day herbal cleanse, so the idea of diving straight back into butter and sugar just didn't feel right. Instead I've decided to make a ridiculously healthy (raw) version of the much loved carrot cake. And I gotta say, it hit the spot perfectly. 

It's that time of the year again when boxes of fresh Californian medjool dates are as cheap as chips down here in Australia, so now is the ideal time to be making raw desserts. All of those traditional carrot cake flavouring are there, you've got the carrot, the walnuts and orange with just a teeny hint of cinnamon and ginger to add a bit of excitement. Most raw carrot cakes I've come across seem to be iced with a cashew based cream, but I've never really taken a liking to it myself (this could partly be blamed on the fact that I don't own a high powered blender, so the icing is never ultra smooth?), so I've instead gone for a slightly more decadent topping of whipped coconut cream, with just a touch of orange and maple.

Thank you my lovelies, for everything. Here's to another 3 years and beyond! xx

3 years of My Darling Lemon Thyme!
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little raw carrot cakes with orange maple cream
You will need to start this recipe the day before to give the cakes time to firm up a little in the fridge and to chill the coconut milk for the cream. For the cream you need to make sure the coconut milk you use is a natural one, no nasty additives, stabilisers and additives whatsoever, just coconut and water is all it should say on the ingredients list (really, this goes for every time you buy coconut milk though too). For a more detailed post on making whipped coconut cream, Ashlae recently wrote this great post. I always pick up the tins of coconut milk in the shop and give them a little shake, if you don't feel too much movement or hear too much sloshing about then this is usually a good indication that brand is a good one to use. Some brands, even at room temperature in cold weather are thick enough to use without chilling, and feel solid when shaken. When I first started making whipped coconut cream a few years back I bought a whole range of different brands, put them all in the fridge overnight and experimented with which ones firm up the most when chilled. I've found most Asian brands from your local Asian grocers work great and I mostly use 'Chef's Choice' or 'Aroy-d' brands here in Australia. 'Ayam' brand works great, but I don't really like the flavour of it.
Makes 6.

2 medium carrots, peeled, ends trimmed + coarsely grated
1 cup (140g) walnuts, whole or pieces
1/2 cup (45g) shredded or desiccated coconut
15 medjool dates, pitted
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted if solid
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
the finely grated zest 1/2 orange (just zest the whole orange as you need some for the cream)
a pinch of fine sea salt

orange maple cream
1x 400ml tin of good quality coconut milk *see headnotes
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
the finely grated zest 1/2 orange 
a pinch of fine sea salt

Day one: Place the tin of coconut milk into the fridge and leave overnight.
Place all the cake ingredients into a food processor and blend on high until everything is finely chopped and almost paste-like. I leave mine a little bit chunky still for added texture. Line a six-hole 1/3 cup capacity muffin tin with cling-film (glad-wrap for the kiwi's or plastic wrap for everyone else!) and divide the mixture between each hole. Press down firmly to pack it down, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day two: To make the cream, open the tin of coconut milk carefully and scoop off the thick cream that's settled on the top and place it into a bowl, leaving behind the thin watery liquid at the bottom (this is great to add to porridge or smoothies so don't waste it!). Use a whisk or electric beater to beat the cream until thick and billowy. Add in the maple and orange zest and whisk to combine. 

Serve cakes topped with a dollop of orange maple cream and serve immediately. Un-iced cakes will store happily in the fridge (covered) for 4-5 days.

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83 Comments

  • Reply
    Jodi Kay
    July 5, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Beautiful recipe and beautiful photos! Congratulations on 3 years, Emma! Looking forward to many more! x

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Thanks Jodi! xx

  • Reply
    Emma Gardner
    July 5, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Congratulations Emma! I love marking each year and thinking back over the community and knowledge and friendships gained, it's fantastic. Wishing you many more years xx

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Thanks so much Emma xx

  • Reply
    Amy @ Swiss Miss in the Kitchen
    July 5, 2013 at 7:27 am

    ohhhh…. Emma these little cakes looks so beautiful! I love the healthy ingredients you used! What a fantastic dessert 🙂 I have to re-make these as soon as possible!! Thanks for sharing!!
    xox Amy

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Enjoy love! xx

  • Reply
    Sarah
    July 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I feel the same level of impressed at other peoples jobs. Builders and labourers amaze me. Love this sweet recipe

  • Reply
    Nicola Galloway
    July 5, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Happy birthday My Darling Lemon Thyme, I look forward to the next 3 years of inspiration. Emma, these little cakes look divine, can't wait to make them with the sweet sweet winter carrots around xx

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Thanks Nicola! xx

  • Reply
    london bakes
    July 5, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Happy three years Emma! You've created such a wonderful and inspiring space here xo

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Thanks so much Kathryn! xx

  • Reply
    Grace Charlotte Nagle
    July 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Oh my goodness these look divine! Can't wait to try them …thank you so much for your beautiful blog. Your photos are stunning and I love your Kiwi humour and attitude. Well done you – aren't you clever!?! Kara xxx

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

      🙂 Thanks Kara xx

  • Reply
    thelittleloaf
    July 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Happy happy three years! I adore carrots and am absolutely fascinated by the idea of a raw carrot cake, it looks and sounds so good 🙂

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Thanks Kate! It's amazing how much like actual carrot cake these taste xx

  • Reply
    coconutandberries
    July 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I get such pleasure from reading your blog that it's so nice to read that you enjoy writing it just as much 🙂 These little cakes look like the perfect celebration treat! Look forward to more from "my darling lemon thyme"

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Thanks love! xx

  • Reply
    Shanna Mallon
    July 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Congratulations, Emma! I know just what you mean about being awed at others' talents, the ones that are so far outside my own reach. But honestly, I know a lot of people feel that way when they look at your work. I do. Here's to what the next years bring! : )

    • Reply
      emma
      July 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Oh wow Shanna. Thanks so much for your kind words, I feel the same about you and your beautiful writing! Lotsa love xx

  • Reply
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    July 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I love medjool dates but I've never made a raw cake. These look so good!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:21 am

      They are perfect to add sweetness and to bind all the ingredients together in a cake like this. I hope you try it xx

  • Reply
    Dee
    July 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    So glad I found your blog — these look fantastic! Going on my 'must make' list. (Moving into a new house very soon and I get a real kitchen again!)

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Hi Dee, welcome! xx

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    July 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Emma, thanks for your inspiration. Just wondering how come coconut milk is used, would a can of coconut cream be thicker or too rich?

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:16 am

      I've tried it with coconut cream too, but for some reason it doesn't separate into thick cream and liquid like chilled coconut milk does? Don't ask me why, it seems to go against logic I know!? xx

  • Reply
    Jo Balfe
    July 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Congrats on your milestones! I love a raw carrot cake and your blend of citrus and spices sounds amazing : )Just remember that you are the 'teacher', the 'artist' all of those things in your own right, just in a different way! I'm sure those people are in awe of hat you do as much as you are of them ; ) I will be making these little cakes very soon! xx

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Thanks Jo, so sweet xx

  • Reply
    Blandine
    July 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for keeping inspiring us with beautiful and delicious recipes Emma! Happy three years 😉

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Thanks so much Blandine! I've loved hearing from you over the years 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    Charlotte | Lovely Food
    July 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    This looks and sounds amazing. Can't believe it's been three years already! You have come so amazingly far in that time 🙂

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:17 am

      I know, 3 years have flown by! xx

  • Reply
    Christine
    July 5, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I live the look if these and would like to try to make them however I'm not seeing the recipe? Just the blog and the gorgeous photos. Help??!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:19 am

      Hrmmm, have you read this post on a computer or just a ipad/phone? For some reason some of my readers have been having troubles on ipads/phones. Check on a computer and let me know if it's still not coming up.

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef ™
    July 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Happy birthday indeed Emma! It's a great milestone:) Here's to looking forward to the next 3 years! The little cakes are lovely, and so healthy I could even have seconds!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Thanks love, your support over the years has meant so much xx

  • Reply
    Pat @ Elegantly GF
    July 6, 2013 at 3:06 am

    Congratulations on 3 years of beautiful photography, captivating articles and delicious food. That's artistic!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Thanks Pat! xx

  • Reply
    Myriam Lluria Sitterson
    July 6, 2013 at 3:39 am

    What a beautiful blog page! Everything about it is delightful! Thanks for sharing this scrumptious looking healthy dessert!!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

      You're welcome Myriam, thanks for stopping by xx

  • Reply
    Janet NZ
    July 6, 2013 at 5:18 am

    Happy Anniversary Emm!
    You must know that any recipe that calls for 15 (!) medjool dates also calls for a win at lotto eh? Lol
    Wee cakes sound delicious though 🙂

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Um, yeah. Sorry about that Janet! I know medjool dates are so ridiculously priced back home in NZ (about $1 each eh?), but while we live in Aussie I'm gonna make the most of the super cheap prices here (2.5kg box for $25!) 🙂 Wish I could send you some! xx

  • Reply
    Jenny S
    July 6, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Hi Emma, Just found this recipe & your website through Empowered Sustenance. Lovely to have someone in Aussie blogging thank you.
    I was wondering if you have any ideas what I could use instead of dates- can't eat them. Would coconut oil or butter be any good do you think?

    • Reply
      emma
      July 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Ah I was wondering where all these new readers came from! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 If you can eat other dried fruit I'd use raisins/apricots/figs. If not, I'm guessing at a pinch a hefty amount of coconut oil (I wouldn't use butter, the end product would just feel like a lump of butter in your mouth.. ick) and some extra walnuts/coconut might hold it all together. Maybe a touch of honey/maple to sweeten? You'd have to have a play around xx

  • Reply
    Blue Apocalypse
    July 8, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Happy 3rd blog birthday Emma!

    You have great recipes and honest photos. I like your photos because they are not too stylised and contrived (too much of this on blogs these days!).

    Ai-Ling

    • Reply
      emma
      July 8, 2013 at 7:16 am

      Thanks Ai-Ling! I've found simple works for me, so glad you like it too 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura
    July 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I cannot wait to make these. I love every little thing about them. Totally my kind of treat 🙂

    And congratulations on three whole years 🙂 Cheers to you, Emma, and all of the inspiring work you do here. xo

    • Reply
      emma
      July 9, 2013 at 1:36 am

      Thanks Laura! Coming from you that means so much xx

  • Reply
    JenK
    July 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I have read about Medjool dates here a few times and thought I would give this a try. It looked so good. So I bought my medjool dates having never actually eaten a date at all before. I thought I would just try one in the car as I hadn't had any lunch. Well that was a bad move as I hooked into the dates to the extent a) I felt a little ill b) I didn't have enough left to make this recipe. Oh well not to worry. Medjool dates are my new love.

    • Reply
      emma
      July 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Oh JenK, I just laughed out loud reading your comment! Hehe. Too funny. Better luck next time, but seriously aren't they amazing things?! They are my secret weapon when that sugar craving hits.

  • Reply
    Domestic Executive
    July 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Congratulations on your blog birthday. I am so in awe of your talent with food. Looking forward to what's yet to come. Keep up the brilliant work Em.

    • Reply
      emma
      July 10, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Aw, such kind words love! Thank you xx

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    July 10, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Happy Blogiversary, Emma! You're definitely a talented and creative person in the kitchen and I love the idea of this raw carrot cakes. Can't beat that delish orange maple cream! Yum 😀

    • Reply
      emma
      July 12, 2013 at 2:04 am

      Thanks Kiran! xx

  • Reply
    TITLE Boxing Club Overland Park
    July 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Wow, yummy and not too bad for you. Wonderful!

  • Reply
    Laura @ PassTheKnife
    July 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Congratulations! Your site is beautiful and it is always a pleasure to read your words.

    • Reply
      emma
      July 12, 2013 at 2:04 am

      Thanks Laura xx

  • Reply
    Alanna
    July 11, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Happy, happy blogiversary, Emma! These cakes look absolutely exquisite – I wish I had one right now. I love this space, and look forward to the next three years. 🙂

    • Reply
      emma
      July 12, 2013 at 2:04 am

      Thanks Alanna, so happy to have found your blog recently! xx

  • Reply
    Jacquie
    July 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    With lots more to come!!Love this beautiful space,but you knew that alredy:)

    • Reply
      emma
      July 12, 2013 at 1:56 am

      Thanks so much Jacquie. Lotsa love always xx

  • Reply
    dervla | the curator
    July 13, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Lovely, congratulations Emma 🙂 Your site is always one that I come to with joy and leave satisfied.

  • Reply
    Nicole @WonkyW
    July 14, 2013 at 3:42 am

    I love this idea! Carrot cake is my favorite and I can't wait to give this a try!

  • Reply
    Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania
    July 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I am inspired! I loved this Vegan recipe….anything with carrots is yum…and this is gorgeous too!

  • Reply
    Charlot VERT
    July 21, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Such a great recipe, and an even more perfect blog. Many years more to come hopefully! X

  • Reply
    Nicky McLeod
    July 21, 2013 at 7:57 am

    You cant stop blogging any time soon. I have only just found you (via a friend who forwarded me this recipee). Salivating at the thought of going back over 3 years of your recipees. I have tried other raw carrot cake recipees and yours is the best I have come across. The whipped coconut cream is inspired! Who would have thought you could whip coconut cream as you can cream. By the way I used coconut cream. Not so healthy but rich and creamy – any reason you use the milk instead of the cream? And a tip for those kiwis (like me) who balk at using medjool dates for anything due to price – whereever they are called for just use double or even tripple (if they are small) the amount of ordinary dates, covered and soaked with boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Drain before use. The soak water can be saved and used for other things, for example to cook porridge. Keep up the fantastic blog. You are very much appreciated!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 22, 2013 at 1:28 am

      Hi Nicky!
      Thanks so much for your lovely comment 🙂
      I tend to use coconut milk as I find it separates better, but if you have luck with coconut cream that's great! It's just the cream part that you use with the milk anyway.
      Cheers for the tip on using dried dates, I often use them too xx

  • Reply
    Haley @ Cheap Recipe Blog
    July 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Whoa… I just made this and it's wonderful! It's like eating carrot cake batter – which is usually better than the finished product anyway!

    • Reply
      emma
      July 29, 2013 at 2:01 am

      Yay, so glad you made them! xx

  • Reply
    Felicity
    July 28, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I've just been directed to your blog and have spent the loveliest time beginning to explore this wonderful, warm, informative and inspiring space that you've created.

    Thank you for all that you share, the images, the recipes, the tips – your generosity is greatly appreciated.

    As soon as I've finished typing this, I'm scooting to the kitchen to pop the coconut cream into the fridge and get crackalacking with the recipe! x

    • Reply
      emma
      July 29, 2013 at 2:00 am

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment Felicity, and welcome! Enjoy your carrot cakes 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    August 3, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Oh….my…god. Standing in the kitchen, just made 2 batches of this because 1 was not enough, Holy moly. Seriously. so delicious, I just want to whip them out of the fridge now and eat them… magic. GO KIWI!

    • Reply
      emma
      August 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Hehe, awesome! Glad you liked them 🙂

  • Reply
    alder rea
    August 27, 2013 at 9:40 am

    This was my first foray into raw food and by joves is was easy and delicious.
    Don't have a food processor so just chopped everything as fine as I could, added a handful of almond meal and extra coconut oil (copha) to help them hold together and WAH LA am now feeling very virtuous ( though that feeling may be fleeting if I polish off the lot tonight :-P)

    Thanks a lot!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 9, 2013 at 4:14 am

    Just had to leave a post. My girls(9 yrs & 7 Yrs)and I just got done making these little orange jewels. We used one of those manual food processors. Although, a little more time consuming, its a great way for the girls to feel really involved. We threw some hemp seeds and flaxseed meal in the mix. Delish! They are in the fridge now for tomorrow's afterschool snack. On second thought, I may just minus the topping and the girls can eat them for a quick but incredibly nutritious breakfast. My 9 year old does not like to eat breakfast(never has-even as a toddler-more of a late morning breakfast eater)but, I think this may be a perfect nutritious breakfast for her to eat on the way to school. Thanks for this yummy and versatile recipe!! Kind Regards, Lisa

  • Reply
    Lana
    November 11, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Hey Emma, hope you are well, what could i use instead of walnuts? thankyou Lana

    • Reply
      emma
      November 11, 2013 at 9:24 am

      You could use any other nut or seed of your choice. Or simply leave them out altogether. They add a nice crunch, but if not tolerated just leave out or maybe add in some more shredded coconut instead. xx

  • Reply
    Kate
    April 27, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Lovely, they were very well received. I only refrigerated it for 1 hour though and they were a little soft, I'm looking forward to having left overs tomorrow after they've had a chance to harden up. I didn't use coconut cream on top but instead put a little dollop of thick greek yogurt, a pinch of orange rind and about 1/8th of a teaspoon of maple over the top. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      emma
      April 29, 2014 at 6:19 am

      They're much nicer after a night in the fridge, if you can wait 🙂

  • Reply
    her waking world
    September 19, 2014 at 8:10 am

    So good! <3 thank you

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    December 4, 2014 at 4:11 am

    I've been craving carrot cake ever since I tried some at Trader Joe's, but now I'm looking for a raw version 🙂 This look delicious and simple to make. One question: do you think I can omit the dates considering that there is already walnuts and coconut for solidity?

    • Reply
      emma
      December 5, 2014 at 3:00 am

      They wouldn't hold together quite the same, but I'm sure they'd still be nice (albeit not sweet at all!) xx

  • Reply
    Trademark Lawyer
    August 12, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    That last photo is so cool, and that's an awesome recipe!

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