Vegan carrot cake for a fancy dessert on Meatless Monday

​No one's saying you have to go meatless just because it's Monday -- but as incentive to join the growing movement, every week we're offering an animal-free recipe.

If you tried the banana-walnut muffin or the chocolate-chip cookie recipes, then you already know that all the hype about vegan baking being difficult (or not as tasty) is just that...hype. This carrot cake recipe is a bit more complex but still easy, and the results are well worth the effort.

The recipe was adapted for altitude from Vegan With a Vengeance.

You will need:

3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup pineapple juide 1/2 cup canola oil 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup pure maple syrup 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup macadamia nuts 1/4 cup crystallized ginger 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 3-4 carrots

And for the icing:

16 ounces non-dairy cream cheese (Tofutti brand) 4 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly grease two eight- or nine-inch round cake pans.

1. Chop or lightly process the macadamia nuts. Chop the crystallized ginger into small pieces. 2. Peel the carrots. Grate the carrots; you want about two-and-a-half cups of shredded carrots. 3. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together until thoroughly blended. 4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pineapple juice, oil, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract. 5. Using a hand mixer, blend the dry ingredients into the wet in batches, combining well. 6. Fold the macadamia nuts, coconut, ginger and carrots. Looking awesome. 7. Spoon the batter into your two cake pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until springy in the middle (a toothpick will come out clean) and golden-brown on top. There you go! Cool the cakes on wire racks while you prepare the icing. 8. Place the powdered sugar, dairy-free cream cheese and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, thoroughly combine the icing ingredients. The icing should be thick but still easy to work with. 9. When the cake is cool enough to frost, place one layer on a plate and generously slather it with icing, using a rubber spatula to evenly distribute everything. Arrange the second layer on top of the first layer and frost it as well. We've had more than one non-vegan tell us that this was the best carrot cake they've ever eaten.

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