Walnut Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Surprisingly airy and light, this cake could have been a souffle in a previous life. Naturally gluten-free, the batter gets its lift from egg whites, its rich stability from walnut flour, and its moistness from grated carrot and pineapple. Swathed in velvety cream cheese frosting and a cloud of sweet white coconut, this version of the classic was developed for us by Judy Haubert.
For the Cake
- 1 tbsp. butter, for greasing pans
- 4 eggs plus 2 egg whites, separated, at room temperature
- 1⁄2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1⁄3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups cups shredded carrot (4 medium)
- 1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed dry
- 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped walnut pieces
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 3⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
For the Filling
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
- 1 (1 lb.) box confectioner’s sugar (approximately 3 1/2 cups)
- 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- Heat oven to 375°F with rack in the center position. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter and line with parchment; set aside. Combine egg yolks with 1⁄3 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl and beat on high speed 2–3 minutes until very thick and pale in color. Fold in shredded carrot, pineapple and vanilla extract; set aside.
- Pulse walnut pieces in a food processor until finely ground. Add cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices; pulse to combine and set aside.
- Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl until foamy. Slowly whisk in 1⁄2 cup sugar and beat whites until stiff and glossy. Fold walnut mixture gently into whites, then fold blended whites gently into carrot mixture. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pans and bake 20–25 minutes until cakes are lightly browned and have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pans. Allow cakes to cool 30–45 minutes in the pans. Run a knife around the edges of cakes to loosen from pan, remove parchment and invert onto a wire rack.
- Beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until well-blended. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Place one cake round on stand or serving dish and spread ¾ cup of frosting evenly over surface, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border around edges. Sprinkle with ¾ cup of coconut and press lightly into the filling to set. Top with second layer, using remaining frosting to cover surface and sides of cake. Press remaining coconut evenly around sides and over top of cake. Cover and chill until ready to serve.