This Rum-Spiked Vegan Carrot Cake Is an Easter Must | Wine Enthusiast
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This Rum-Spiked Vegan Carrot Cake Is an Easter Must

Carrot cake has been around for centuries—most likely dating back to the Middle Ages, according to the Oxford Companion to Food. It’s said that President George Washington served it at parties he hosted in the 1700s, and in 1814, a former chef to King Louis XVI published a recipe for “Gâteau de Carottes” in volume two of a cookbook called L’art du cuisinier.

Carrot cake recipes began cropping up in the U.S. as early as the 1930s, shares Anne Byrn in American Cake, but the dessert truly came into its own in the 1970s. Somewhere along the way, it became synonymous with Easter celebrations. Why? Rabbits love carrots, and what dessert is better able to capture the essence of the longstanding holiday mascot, the Easter bunny?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of carrot cake recipes on the internet, which range from chewy pineapple-, raisin- and nut-studded creations to more simplistic, less textured versions. All have their dedicated fans, so long as they’re not dry—a far too common carrot cake conundrum. Given Wine Enthusiast’s love of adult beverages, we think the best carrot cakes are the ones made with booze.

You May Also Like: The Best Pre-Made Easter Baskets for Drinks Lovers

That’s why we tapped Ana Rusu, author of New Vegan Baking, for her vegan carrot cake recipe. We like the inclusivity of this dairy-free rendition, which will satisfy even the vegans and lactose-intolerant at your Easter table. 

It’s enhanced with aged rum—although the alcohol cooks off during baking, the spirit helps the cake remain moist throughout the cooking process and infuses the batter with richer aromas than your typical booze-less rendition. When selecting an aged rum, Wine Enthusiast Spirits Reviewer Kara Newman suggests seeking out  “something with enough brown sugar tones to complement the other ingredients, but not too funky/ester-y, not too precious,” she says.

Her top pick is Appleton Estate Signature Blend. And word to the wise: Make sure to save enough to serve a few nips alongside your dessert spread.

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Vegan Carrot Cake with Homemade Carrot Jam

Recipe courtesy of New Vegan Baking: A Modern Approach to Creating Irresistible Sweets for Every Occasion by Ana Rusu.

Carrot Jam Ingredients

  • 5 ounces raw carrot
  • 3⁄4 cup + 2 tablespoons cane sugar, divided
  • 1 1⁄4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 3 clove pods
  • 2 dried juniper berry pods

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped almonds
  • 1⁄4 cup golden raisins
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons aged rum
  • 6.5 ounces carrot, peeled and grated

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
  • 5 ounces vegan cream cheese, lightly salted (Ana recommends plain Violife cream cheese)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts, for serving


Prepare the Carrot Jam:

Peel and grate the carrots. Then, place them in a bowl with about half of the sugar. Using a fork, give it a good stir. Let the carrot mixture rest for about 1 hour.

Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Add the carrot mixture and boil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the rest of the sugar, lemon juice, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves and juniper berries. Lower the heat to medium–low and simmer the mixture for 40 to 50 minutes, until the carrots are soft, stirring occasionally. Transfer the hot jam to a clean, sterilized jar. Let it sit for 5 minutes without the lid on, then close the jar and turn it upside down, so that the fruit doesn’t settle on the bottom of the jar. Leave it at room temperature to slowly cool down, then refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Make the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 370°F (175°C), set an oven rack in the middle position and line a 7-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Stir the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, chopped nuts, raisins and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar and coconut sugar with the oil, apple cider vinegar, almond milk, vanilla, orange zest and rum until the sugar is almost dissolved. Add the grated carrots to the wet mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour the carrot mixture over the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold the ingredients until combined, but don’t overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick: if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, continue to bake until cooked through. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Cool the cake completely before frosting.

Prepare the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

Add the vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, vanilla and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until lump-free, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until completely combined. Beat until creamy and fluffy and all the sugar has dissolved, 6 to 7 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.

Assemble the Cake:

To split the cake in half horizontally, mark middle points around the side of the cake with toothpicks. Using toothpicks as a guide, cut through the cake with a long, sharp knife, using a back-and-forth motion.

Place the bottom layer of the cake on a serving plate with the cut side up. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Carrot Jam on the first layer. Using about half of the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, and an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly across the bottom layer. Add the second layer of the cake and press gently with your hand. Top the cake with the rest of the frosting and spread evenly with an offset spatula.

Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the Carrot Jam over the frosting. Sprinkle it with the toasted walnuts and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. The cake will keep well for up to 4 days, covered and refrigerated.