Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Carrot cake is one of my all time favorite desserts. I was craving it this weekend and decided to “veganize” a traditional carrot cake recipe. This vegan version of classic carrot cake is not too sweet and not dry. This cake made my entire apartment smell so good! The cinnamon and nutmeg really complement the carrot flavor. Grating carrots is definitely not my favorite pastime, but it’s worth it for this scrumptious cake! Because vegan cakes don’t use eggs, they don’t rise as much as traditional cakes. This is why the layers of this cake aren’t as thick as it’s traditional counterpart. I used vegan cream cheese to make the decadent icing. I prefer the Kite Hill brand as its texture is easy to work with and contains no soy (it’s made with almonds). I don’t recommend using the Daiya brand as it has a really tough texture. If you’re not avoiding soy, Toffuti brand vegan cream cheese should also work well but it contains many processed ingredients.

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Icing the cake is a 2 step process.

Flax eggs are a great substitute for regular eggs in vegan baking. Once the flax powder is mixed with water, it turns into a thick, egg-like sludge which acts as a binder for the cake. I lowered the amount of oil for this recipe and added extra applesauce instead – this made it taste rich without extra fat. Walnuts are a traditional topping for carrot cake but I decided to change it up a little and add coconut instead. I had my friends over for this cake and they pretty much devoured it! It’s rich, moist, and super tasty without being too sweet! The cream cheese frosting is super creamy and can be used as a decadent dip for things like pretzels as well. I love making carrot cake in the spring and found this recipe to be simple and really delicious. If you make it, make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or Pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 “flax eggs” (whisk 2 tbs flaxseed powder in 6 tbs water and let sit for 10 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups grated carrots (medium packed)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic granulated sugar (such as turbinado)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 1 (8oz) package of vegan cream cheese, softened (such as Kite Hill brand)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened (such as Earth Balance brand)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups organic powdered sugar
  • Optional topping:
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease to 9 inch round baking pans with vegan butter and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the wet ingredients – flax eggs, canola oil, applesauce, grated carrots, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract on low speed for about 1 minute. Combine dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a separate, medium sized bowl. Add dry ingredients into stand mixer bowl in two to three batches while mixing on low speed. Mix for about 2 minutes (do not over mix). Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure ingredients are evenly combined. Pour batter evenly into both 9 inch baking pans. Bake for about 35-38 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for about 30 minutes before frosting. Prepare frosting while cake is cooling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add softened cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla extract and whisk at medium speed until well combined. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and whisk on medium speed until frosting is smooth. Place one layer of the cooled cake on a cake stand and frost with about 1/2 the frosting. Next, add second layer of cake and top with remainder of frosting. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Adapted from: https://www.livewellbakeoften.com/the-best-carrot-cake-recipe/

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate

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This is an easy and festive recipe for the holidays! I love peppermint bark but didn’t want to go through the trouble of actually making it at home. Peppermint hot chocolate has all of the same delicious flavors but takes just a few minutes to make. I found organic, vegan candy canes at Whole Foods. The colors of the organic candy canes aren’t as intense but they are just as delicious as traditional candy canes. Peppermint and dark chocolate together are so irresistible! These rich warm flavors make this drink so comforting on a cold winter day. Adding both cocoa powder and dark chocolate makes this hot chocolate thicker, more flavorful, and creamier than just using cocoa powder. You can also find coconut whipped cream at most grocery stores to top off your hot cocoa. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups almond milk
  • 4 organic candy canes (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs agave syrup (or 2 tbs Stevia)
  • 1.75 oz dark chocolate
  • coconut whipped cream (optional topping)

Directions


Heat almond milk until just boiling. Add cocoa powder, agave, and dark chocolate and stir until dissolved. Add candy canes one at a time until melted, stirring often. Top with whipped cream and serve while hot.

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Frosted Vegan Chocolate Donuts

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Baked vegan donuts
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Frosted vegan chocolate donut topped with chocolate covered chia seeds

I recently went on a trip to Berlin and was happily surprised that Berlin is known as “the vegan capital of the world”. I passed by several bakeries that all had vegan options and also had a 5 course, gourmet vegan meal at a fantastic restaurant called the The Lucky Leek. There were even late night vegan options like “tofu-wurst” instead of bratwurst at the local pub! Berlin is a great place to visit if you’re plant based and also a great place to shop and see historical sites such as the Berlin wall. I’m still waiting for Chicago to be as vegan friendly as Berlin. Until then, I’ll just have to be content with my usual local vegan spots. Vegan donuts are not always easy to find in town. They’re often deep fried too. I live next door to an amazing gourmet donut shop but they have no vegan donuts! This recipe is super easy and quick. It’s almost as easy as making brownies. The only slightly difficult part is pouring the batter evenly into the donut wells. The donuts go in the oven for less than 15 minutes and come out looking great! Once they’re cooled, they pop out of the pan pretty easily. Make sure you fill each well all the way to the top with batter. Since this recipe uses no eggs or milk, the batter doesn’t rise as much as the traditional kind. These turned out to be soft, cake-like, and full of rich chocolate flavor. I bought my donut pan on Amazon.com but I’ve seen them at lots of other stores as well. They’re inexpensive and, in my opinion, worth investing in. The frosting adds even more richness and chocolatey goodness to these donuts and the sprinkles make them extra cute! I found chocolate covered chia seeds in the grocery store recently and thought they would make a great topping for vegan donuts. I also used organic sprinkles (Sprinkelz brand) that are colorful, vegan, and gluten free. Now that I know how easy baked donuts are, I’ll be making them all the time! You will need aquafaba for this recipe as an egg substitute. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s the liquid that’s in canned chickpeas. Simply save and refrigerate this liquid the next time you open a can of chickpeas. As always, take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean if you make them or Pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Make sure to fill each well all the way to the top
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Donuts before frosting

Frosted Vegan Chocolate Donuts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

    For the donuts:
  • 2 tbs vegan butter, softened (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • For the frosting:
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (such as Chocolate Dream)
  • 1 tbs vegan butter, softened (such as Earth Balance)
  • 2 tbs almond milk
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • Toppings (optional):
  • Chocolate covered chia seeds
  • Vegan sprinkles (such as Sprinkelz brand)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease donut pan (1/2 dozen sized) with vegan butter or oil spray and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter, applesauce, aquafaba, almond milk, and vanilla extract for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Next add flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda and mix again on medium speed until batter is smooth and well combined. Carefully spoon batter evenly into donut pan wells, filling to the top of each well. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in doughnut comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. While donuts are cooling, prepare the frosting. Heat chocolate chips, butter, and almond milk in a small saucepan on low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring constantly. Turn off heat and stir in agave syrup. (Or microwave all frosting ingredients in a shallow bowl for 30 seconds and stir to combine). Dip one side of each donut in frosting and top with sprinkles. May store frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. May store donuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per doughnut plus 1/6 frosting: 282 cal

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No Bake Cookies and Cream Mini Cheesecakes (vegan)

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If you’re a fan of Oreos, you’re going to love this dessert! Oreos were one my favorite childhood treats. For this recipe, I used Newman O’s instead of Oreos since they’re made with organic ingredients. This recipe does require you to soak cashews overnight but other than that, it’s pretty quick to make and can be made ahead. This is a great summer dessert because you don’t have to turn the oven on. Vegan cheesecake doesn’t taste exactly like traditional cheesecake, but has it’s own delicious flavor and texture. It’s creamy and decadent tasting but not too sweet. The chocolate cookie crust is probably my favorite part! These mini cheesecakes are really delicious! This recipe is great as a base for any type of vegan cheesecake. You could add fruit in the filling instead of sandwich cookies as a variation. You could also stir in vegan chocolate chips instead of the sandwich cookies as another variation. It’s amazing what you can do with cashews soaked overnight. Cashew cream is great for all kinds of vegan sauces as well. I love the idea of individual cheesecakes because there’s no need for a knife to serve them and everyone is happy when they get their own cheesecake. You’ll need a good food processor or high powered blender along with some parchment paper and a muffin pan to make this delicious dessert. Let me know how it turns out! Tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or Pin It on Pinterest!

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Parchment paper helps to lift out the cheesecakes easily.

No Bake Cookies and Cream Mini Cheesecakes (vegan)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 3 cups raw cashews soaked in water overnight
  • 9 whole chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Newman O’s or Oreos)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs light coconut milk
  • 3 tbs agave nectar
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • For the crust:
  • 8 chocolate sandwich cookies with the cream removed
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tbs coconut oil

Directions

For the filling: Place soaked cashews, sandwich cookies, coconut milk, and coconut oil in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth. For the crust: Place cookies (without the cream), dates, and coconut oil in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until all the ingredients are well combined and crumbly. Line each muffin pan well with parchment paper. Press crust into each muffin pan well using a spatula. Freeze crusts for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and spoon equal amounts of cheesecake filling into each muffin well and smooth the tops with a spatula or knife. Freeze for about 4 hours. Allow to thaw for about 10 minutes before serving. May store in the freezer for up to 7 to 10 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per cheesecake: 305 cal

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Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

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I am a little obsessed with cookie dough, I have to admit… Growing up, I used to make cookies just to eat the raw dough. Nothing has changed! I made this recipe using just 7 raw ingredients. You don’t need any special equipment such as a food processor or blender to make this recipe. These cookie dough bars are high in protein and gluten free. I love that they are minimally processed. I used my favorite protein powder in them from LivWell nutrition. It’s raw and contains 17g of plant based protein per scoop. These bars contain the right amount of fat to keep you going for hours. They’re great as a dessert, snack, breakfast, or pre-workout fuel. They taste like peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough and melt in your mouth. They almost remind me of fudge. Almond flour is great because it still tastes good even when it’s not baked. I used Bob’s Red Mill natural almond flour which is made from whole almonds with the skin on. That’s what gives these bars their speckled color. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my all time favorite combinations but you could substitute almond butter or your favorite nut butter instead. I lined my pan with parchment so that I could easily lift the bars out. If you don’t have a loaf pan handy, you can easily shape the dough into energy balls of any size before freezing. These were so good that I had to give most of them away! They are truly crave-worthy and so easy to make. This is a recipe I will keep making time and time again. If you decide to try it make sure you Pin It on Pinterest or tag me when you share on Instagram or Facebook @thefriendlyepicurean.

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I lined my pan with parchment to easily lift them bars out after cutting.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almond flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill natural almond flour brand)
  • 3 tbs coconut oil (solid)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw vanilla protein powder (such as LivWell Nutrition brand)
  • 3 tbs creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)

Directions

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with a spatula or your hands until well combined. Press into a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan and freeze for 10-15 minutes. Cut into 10 squares to serve. Keep refrigerated. May store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per bar: 240 cal
  • Approximate protein per bar: 6 grams

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Nice Cream

It’s ‘nice’ cream season! Long, hot summer days are always better with a cold, sweet treat. In case you haven’t heard of it, ‘nice cream’ is a plant based frozen dessert made primarily from bananas. It tastes a lot like ice cream but the texture is somewhat different. It’s a little harder to scoop, not super creamy, and should be thawed for a few minutes before serving. It’s typically vegan and gluten free depending on the toppings. I love fresh cherries but bought way too many this season! Since I hate wasting food, I pitted and froze the cherries to use later in desserts like nice cream or in smoothie bowls (I made cherry pie filling with the rest of my cherries). This dessert reminds me of Ben and Jerry’s ‘Cherry Garcia’ ice cream. I love cherry with chocolate together but walnuts would also be great in this recipe. It takes only 15 minutes to prepare and can conveniently be made ahead. I froze mine in a loaf pan but you can use any freezer safe container. This nice cream is bursting with fresh flavors and isn’t too sweet. I used dark chocolate chips to complement the banana and cherry and also add some antioxidants. Cherry and dark chocolate are SO good together. If you’re looking for a recipe to use up your cherries, this one is perfect! If you make it, make sure to tag @thefriendlyepicurean or Pin It!

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Nice Cream

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 bananas, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup mini, vegan chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a high powered blender (such as Vitamix) or a food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Let thaw for 5-10 minutes before serving. May store in the freezer for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/6 recipe: 260 cal

 

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