Gluten Free Vegan Allergy Friendly Carrot Cake Pops
I wanted a little something quick and fun for a Spring/Easter treat, so enter Carrot Cake Pops! 🥕🧁
A favorite recipe amongst the allergy community is something called Depression Cake, aka Wacky Cake or Crazy Cake. It is a cake recipe developed during the Depression Era using chemical leavener and oil when butter and eggs were scarce. It’s extremely tasty and a godsend for those with dairy and egg allergies (or just for the days when you NEED cake but are out of the basics!), but it’s not always a slam dunk when it needs to be gluten free. I’ve done so many variations of this and came up with a carrot version that is just as quick and delicious.
The star of this cake is the brown sugar and light spices in the cake that give it a lot of depth of flavor, and the extra acid in the brown sugar helps the cake rise even higher, not easy with no eggs and gluten free flour! As always, my recipes are formulated so regular all-purpose flour will work as well. Many Depression Cake recipes can taste a lot like corn bread and be gummy, but this very light and super moist.
I added a dairy free “cream cheese” frosting that gives it the same flavor profile but no dairy at all. This is such a fast cake to pull together and very easy for the littles to help with. I made the cake pop variation, but it can be done just as easily as cupcakes or in a cake pan!
So, I wish you a happy Easter and Spring holiday season and remember life is short so eat dessert first…safely! 👩🏻🍳💙🐰
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs**
Ingredients and Substitutions
Flour – Either gluten free or all-purpose flour can be used in this recipe. If your gluten free flour blend does not have xanthan gum, add ¼ tsp. per cup of flour. I always prefer to do the 140 grams per cup of flour. Remember all gluten free blends are different, some are denser and absorb more liquid. I use King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour blend.
Oil – Honestly, I’m a fan of light extra virgin olive oil in my baking. I’m a good Italian girl, what can I say? I will use either that (I safely use Felipo Berio extra light virgin olive oil or Mazola canola, or even melted coconut oil. Any other safe oil will work!
Spices – I use cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in the cake batter. No, nutmeg is not a tree nut! McCormick is always my safe go-to for spices. I am not a fan of spices blends because those can be run on manufacturing lines that are unsafe for Casey. I buy individual spices and then mix them together. Most allergy parents do similarly.
Fat for the Frosting – Casey can have baked milk but obviously that’s not an option for icing. I use a blend of his safe margarine and Spectrum palm shortening. Whatever is safe for you, be it butter, plant based vegan margarine or Crisco, go for it. I recommend not using straight shortening as the flavor is not great and it’ll make it very stiff. A little shortening is good though because it helps to stabilize the icing.
Carrots – Try to use a smaller grating size when shredding your carrots for the cake. If it is too big of a shred, a lot of moisture will come out of the carrots and make the cake dense and gummy. Squeeze the carrots well after grating to remove excess moisture.
Lollipop Sticks – I buy the shorter size stick (4”) on Amazon. Shorter is better because the cake ball is heavy, and a long stick will make it harder to balance. They’re very inexpensive and great to keep on hand for fun kitchen projects.
White Chocolate for Dipping Pops – As always, my go-to is dairy free Pascha chocolate. It’s delicious and safe for Casey. Use whatever chocolate is safe for your needs.
Decorations – Food coloring, sprinkles, crushed cookies, and anything you’d like are great for decorating the cake pops. Cake Mate sprinkles are safe for Casey.
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs.**
Gluten Free Vegan Allergy Friendly Carrot Cake Pops
Author: Katie Martino Lopez
Prep Time: Cake- 10 minutes, Icing, 5 minutes, plus dipping time.
Cook Time: For 9” cake, about 35 minutes, for cupcakes, about 25-30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours (about) for cake cooling, decorating and chilling icing if necessary.
Yield: Cake: About 3 dz. Cake pops, 1-9” round or square cake or 12 regular size cupcakes. Frosting: About 4 c. for a full batch, can be cut in half for pops.
2- 1/4 lbs. buttercream, enough for 1-9″ cake or 12 thick frosted cupcake.
For the Carrot Cake
- 1 ½ c. (210 g.) gluten free all-purpose flour blend with xanthan gum or regular all-purpose flour
- ¼ c. light brown sugar
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ dried ginger
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 Tbls. vegetable or light olive oil
- 1 ¼ c. water (use a bit less water for regular all-purpose flour)
- 1 c. shredded carrot, squeezed well (after grating) to remove excess moisture
For the “Cream Cheese” Icing
- 8 ounces vegan or regular butter
- 4 ounces shortening Note: all butter/vegan butter can be used instead of shortening
- 1 lb. 4 oz. confectioner’s sugar (about 4 ½ cups), sifted after measuring
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 ½ lemon juice for “cream cheese” flavor; to taste
- Optional: 2 Tbls. safe or regular milk, room temperature if the icing is too thick
- 1 c. white chocolate, melted, for dipping
- Sprinkles, crushed cookies, colored icing, etc. for decorating
For the Carrot Cake:
- Note: Depression cake is usually made in the pan it’s being baked in, but I prefer to do it in a separate bowl just because I think it incorporates the ingredients better without over mixing.
- Preheat oven to 350. Have your pan prepared-either a 9” round or square or one regular (12) or one mini muffin pan (24 cups) for cupcakes. Line cupcake pan with liners. The large pan does not have to be greased.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (up to ground ginger in the recipe). Whisk well to incorporate and break up any lumps of the brown sugar with your fingers.
- Using the traditional Depression cake method, make 2 small wells and one large well on the surface of the dry ingredients. In this order, add the vanilla in one small, the oil in the large well and the apple cider vinegar in the other small well. Immediately pour the water all over the top of the flour and shredded carrots and whisk to combine. Do not overmix but whisk well to combine.
- Pour the cake batter into the pans or portion into the cupcake pan. Immediately bake approximately 35 minutes for the 9” pan and 25 for the cupcakes.
- Note: Cool completely in the pan before unmolding icing-the cake will crack if it is too warm when unmolded. Pro Tip: If you are splitting and filling the cake, wrap and chill the cake overnight. The crumb will be less soft and not as messy to cover. If you’re just frosting the top, no chilling is necessary.
- For Cake Pops: Pull the cake out of the pan and crumble in a medium bowl. Chill 2 hours or even better-overnight. Fresh cake is very moist to work with and will be harder to dip. Less frosting will be needed but not the same taste. Pro Tip: If you are splitting and filling the cake, wrap and chill the cake overnight. The crumb will be less soft and not as messy to cover. If you’re just frosting the top, no chilling is necessary.
For “Cream Cheese” Icing
- NOTE!!! If making cake pops, the recipe can be cut in half and the rest of the frosting frozen.
- In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sifted confectioner’s sugar until well combined. Scrape down often to ensure there are no lumps of fat.
- Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix until light and fluffy. There is a lot of liquid for the fat to absorb so add slowly and scrape down often, getting from the bottom and sides of the mixer.
- A firmer consistency is better for the cake pops and decorating, but it can make it more difficult to cover a softer cake with. Add 1-2 Tbls. water or safe milk if using for cake frosting.
- Use immediately or if saving for later use, chill. If buttercream is refrigerated because it is too soft, stir often while chilling or the edges and surface will harden.
- The iced cake can be kept at room temperature or chilled, depending on desired texture. See recipe notes below for storage and reconstituting.
Cake Pop Assembly
- When cake is chilled, add ¼ c. of frosting to crumbled cake. Mix well to combine. DO NOT be tempted to add more frosting! The cake is very moist and the icing is just for some flavor. It will make the cake pop greasy and too heavy if more is added.
- Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop (preferred!), scoop cake into balls and place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Roll balls to smooth out if necessary. Push a lollipop stick into the middle of each cake ball making sure it’s not popping out. Don’t go less than the middle. Freeze cake balls for at least 2 hours so the balls will not fall off while dipping.
- Prepare dipping/decorating station: Melt chocolate and pour into a narrow cup. This makes it much easier to dip. Set up any decorations, toppings, or colored icing (see pictures for my carrot decoration piped on) now. Once the pops are out of the freezer they must be worked with cold.
- Working with a few at a time, dip the pop into the chocolate to cover the whole ball up to the stick. This is important because a little chocolate on the stick helps to make it more secure. Shake the pops gently to remove excess chocolate and pull the bottom of the pop on the edge of the cup to remove the “foot” of chocolate that can pool up. Set the pop upright back on the parchment paper, adding decorations while still tacky. Refrigerate again as quickly as possible to set up chocolate. NOTE: If chocolate is thin, you may have to dip twice.
- If the cake ball falls off, it is too soft. Freeze for a few minutes and work with again.
- Cake pops can be refrigerated up to a week or at room temperature for 2-3 days.
- This cake can be made without the spices or carrots if desired, it will still have a great caramel type flavor. To omit the brown sugar, just increase the granulated to ¾ c. (6 oz.).
- Regular all-purpose flour can be used as well, however, a little less water may be necessary as gluten free flour absorbs much more liquid. Just one cup should be sufficient.
- This cake AND icing freeze fantastic for up to 2 months well wrapped. Thaw both in the refrigerator. Leave the icing to come to room temperature or put on the mixer with the paddle to soften. It will kind of like scrambled eggs from the cold fat, but it will all come together as the fat softens.
As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…
Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.
And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!