Gluten-Free Chocolate Carrot Cake with Coconut Espresso Cream Frosting

By Emily Smith

I am so excited to post this recipe today. It’s been a long time in the making, and even then some, since once these two heavenly layers of chocolate cake came out of the oven they still had to sit in the fridge overnight, to really let all the flavors sink in, so we had to patiently wait until this morning to get a taste of what we could only imagine would be an incredibly delicious cake.  Oh, it was so worth it!  I’m happy to say that this is a gluten-free dairy-free cake that will blow your mind!  Who knew five cups of carrots in a dessert could taste this amazing? You’ll have to try it to believe it ;)

Creating this cake was definitely an adventure. One of those things where you know it will either be monumentally triumphant or a tragic flop. I was hoping for the first and thankfully, I got it! Woo-hoo!
I was inspired by a recipe from an old magazine that I was letting Aiden use to color on.  The Chocolate Carrot Cake headline caught my attention…hmmmm. I was very curious.  Of course, the recipe had to be converted to gluten-free, the sugar taken down by over half, and I wanted to make it dairy-free as well. A challenge indeed, but I was up to the task.  I’ve always been a fan of rich carrot cakes, so why not add chocolate?


The whole idea of using coconut milk for the frosting came about when I was making a Thai green curry for dinner the other night and for some reason I had put the coconut milk can in the fridge. When I opened it up, it had turned into a very dense cream.  Then it reminded me of a pin that I’d seen circulating a while ago, which I went in search for, leading to a blog post with a tutorial on how to make a sweet coconut whipped cream for your coffee. That’s a lot of connecting the dots, I know, but  it inspired me to use the cold coconut cream instead of cream cheese (which the recipe originally called for).  A little risky business, because it’s not the same consistency – but I thought something scrumptious might transpire.

Well, something amazing did come about, however  it wasn’t in the shape that I had imagined.  At first, I was completely frustrated and thought it was a total flop. My frosting was more liquid than I had hoped for. I decided to put it in the fridge for twenty minutes and it thickened up, into a rich glaze.  I chose to use pure coconut cream for the middle layer, and the coconut espresso frosting over the entire cake. I did this with a large platter underneath it to catch all the excess frosting and then transferred the cake to a serving plate, and garnished it with fresh cut strawberries and chocolate shavings.

Then I cut into it and served up some generous slices all around. What a perfect delight!

I’m wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Gluten-Free (and Dairy-Free) Chocolate Carrot Cake with Coconut Espresso Cream Frosting
Serves 8-10

1 1/2 cups of brown rice flour
1 cup of dark buckwheat flour
5 cups of grated carrots
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
6 squares (6 oz) of Unsweetened Chocolate (use dairy-free)
1/4 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
4 eggs

Coconut Espresso Cream Frosting

1 1/2 cups of refrigerated coconut milk from can (with no preservatives)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup of brewed espresso (or dark coffee)
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

  1. Grate five cups worth of carrots and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl,  sift flours, sprinkle baking soda, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, and cocoa, mix together.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat on low; eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, and apple sauce. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, on low heat, melt unsweetened chocolate squares combining with unsweetened chocolate almond milk.  Stir continuously until a smooth consistency is reached.
  5. Pour chocolate into wet mixture, beat on low for a minute.  
  6. Combine wet mixture into large bowl. 
  7. Add grated carrots, making sure batter is well blended. Use a spatula to scrape around the bowl and note that the batter will be thicker than a typical cake batter.
  8. Separate batter into two, lightly greased,  9 inch cake pans (circular).
  9. Bake at 325F for 35 minutes. 
  10. Remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes before removing from baking pans. Transfer on plates and cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight.
  11. Open a can of  all natural coconut milk that has been refrigerated for 48 hours. It will be the consistency of thick cream.  
  12. In a medium sized bowl, combine one cup coconut cream with confectioner’s sugar, brewed espresso and vanilla extract. Beat on low, until blended.  Refrigerated frosting for 20-30 minutes before icing cake.
  13. Place one cake layer down on a large platter or cutting board, spread 1/2 cup of coconut cream as a middle icing layer and place second cake layer on top of it.
  14. Take frosting out of the fridge, it will be a thick glaze – pour over the cake and let it drip over the sides. Use a spoon to add frosting to parts of the side that might have gotten missed.
  15. Use a large spatula to transfer the cake unto serving plate.
  16. Garnish with chocolate shavings and fresh strawberries.  Enjoy!

Emily Smith

Emily Smith is the founder and editor of The Best of this Life. She has two littles, a darling husband, and dreams of owning a new puppy. A gluten-free connoisseur, social media maven and reigning fashionista (in her own rights). She loves writing and shares her three core values with her readers – love life, live well, share the beauty.

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16 Comments on Gluten-Free Chocolate Carrot Cake with Coconut Espresso Cream Frosting

  1. tinajo
    March 10, 2012 at 10:12 am (3 years ago)

    That does look crazy yummy – strawberries and chocolate is a fab combination! :-)

    Reply
  2. Anonymous
    March 10, 2012 at 10:50 am (3 years ago)

    Yum! Need to try out this recipe asap :)

    Reply
  3. Nicole
    March 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm (3 years ago)

    I am just at a loss for words! This cake is beyond delicious!!!
    Nana is counting on some more of the same for her birthday. Little “A” please, please put in your best pleading smile for me!

    Reply
  4. Lynn {hearted girl}
    March 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm (3 years ago)

    um, i’m with the other girls…Emily, you have outdone yourself with this decadent sensation! no wonder you were feeling excited about posting it, i’m all kinds of excited to see it. from the images, which are incredible by the way!, i can say without a doubt this would be in my top faved dig-into-it-NOW items!!!

    really and truly, your works look like they’re coming from magazine features. the styling and finishing touches you create are spot on. xo ♥

    Reply
  5. Saya
    March 11, 2012 at 3:12 am (3 years ago)

    Awsome post!! I lOve love love carrot cake and this twist with chocolate and a coconut icing looks super creative! I must give it a shot! Thanx for sharing xo

    Reply
  6. Shu Han
    March 11, 2012 at 9:24 am (3 years ago)

    lovely! I love carrot cake, and chocolate, it’s a perfect combination! I want to see if there’s any way this will work without the xanathan gum though!

    Reply
  7. Mother Rimmy
    March 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm (3 years ago)

    What a beautiful cake! You have all my favorite ingredients in one cake. Nice job!

    Reply
  8. Sherilyn @ Wholepromise
    March 12, 2012 at 11:13 am (3 years ago)

    I love your passion for this chocolate cake and the coconut cream frosting is on my list of things to try out. I have seen it everywhere of late. It is a must do given I am a coffee fan.

    Reply
  9. Paper Moon
    March 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm (3 years ago)

    this looks incredible!!! xx

    Reply
  10. Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking
    March 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm (3 years ago)

    What a perfect carrot cake (with chocolate too?? oh dear) and a bunch of absolutely gorgeous photos to compliment it. You are so talented, Emily! Great recipe and beautiful post.

    Reply
  11. Bonnie
    March 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm (3 years ago)

    I must try this recipe, looks incredible!!!

    Reply
  12. Brooke @ Inside-Out Design
    June 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh my goodness…I love chocolate, and I love carrot cake, but I’ve never had them together. This looks amazing!!

    Reply
  13. Alissa Conn
    October 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm (2 years ago)

    My daughter can’t have eggs. How do you think it would turn out with the flax/H20 egg replacer?

    Reply
  14. Emily // The Best of this Life
    October 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm (2 years ago)

    I think it would still work. I’ve used homemade ‘flax egg’ when I’m in a pinch and have no eggs on hand, and it’s worked like a charm. Thanks for stopping by! Let me know how it turns out!

    Reply

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