Mini Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Icing

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Wow, a delicious gluten-free, vegan doughnut that is also free of oil, soy, and refined sugar! I am so excited to share this recipe! Nuts are completely optional so these can be made nut-free too! Since everyone knows someone who is gluten free, vegan or has dietary restrictions of one kind or another, here’s a treat you can prepare that virtually everyone can enjoy!

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It all started with a work-place celebration and the doughnuts that one of my colleagues brought in for the occasion. These were not your average doughnuts. These were amazing doughnuts from a local shop that specializes in gourmet doughnuts. In fact, that’s all they sell. That night I went home with thoughts of recreating a carrot cake doughnut or at least a healthier version of the carrot cake doughnut I had eaten at our morning celebration. It was a crazy idea for someone who rarely eats cake or baked goods, and for good reason. Doughnuts typically contain butter, eggs, refined sugar and gluten and they are deep-fried in a large amount of oil. Vegan doughnuts are an emerging trend but they are still hard to come by and they almost certainly contain sugar and are fried in oil.  Clearly, I had tasked myself with a challenge! 

I made several attempts at these doughnuts using oats or oat flour and found the flavour was pretty good, but the texture was a bit rubbery. Then I tried using a combination of  various gluten-free flours and starches and ended up with either a texture I didn’t like or a flavour that was’t up to snuff. Yes, there was quite a bit of experimentation involved to get the flavour and texture just right, but I can honestly say that I am thoroughly pleased with the results posted here. 

The icing starts with a vegan cream cheese from cashews and in my opinion, this is hands down the best version of non-dairy cream cheese you’ll ever eat! However, to make the cream cheese, you’ll need to plan a couple of days ahead. Don’t be put off by the time factor though as  the result is worth it. The cream cheese really does taste just like the commercial variety and can be used for anything that calls for cream cheese. There’s nothing difficult about the process but it does take a minimum of two days from beginning to end so you will want to make the icing first.

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Doughnut Ingredients

 Dry:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 3 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2  tsp.  cinnamon
  • 1 1/2  tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch baking soda
  • 2 Tbs. sultana raisins, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

Wet:

  • 2/3 cup apple sauce, unsweetened (about 210 ml)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup finely grated carrot, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place the first 11 ingredients in a small bowl. Then, hold a sieve over a sheet of parchment paper and sift the dry ingredients onto the parchment. Now place the sieve on top of the bowl, and pour the ingredients through the sieve, back into the bowl – effectively sifting the dry ingredients twice.

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Remove a tablespoon of the dry mix and toss with the chopped raisins (and walnuts if using) in a small bowl, then add the coated fruit and nuts back into the bowl with the excess flour mixture. 

In a separate large mixing bowl, stir the the wet ingredients and then add in the dry ingredients. Stir gently but thoroughly until the wet and dry are well mixed.

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The easiest way to fill the molds is with a piping bag so if you have one, use it. In a pinch, a Ziploc bag can be substituted for a piping bag. Simply spoon the batter into the piping bag until the bag is 2/3 full. Don’t fill it or you won’t be able to close the bag and the batter will ooze out of the top as you start to fill the molds. Twist the top to close it off and then holding the bag over your pan, snip an inch or two up from the tip of the bag to create an opening). 

Squeeze the batter into each doughnut mold until the batter is used, refilling the bag as necessary.

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Divide the mixture evenly between 12 mini-doughnut molds (I used 2 non-stick pans with 6 mini-doughnut molds in each).  These don’t rise a lot, but don’t overfill the molds. Smooth out the tops with a palette knife. 

When all of the molds are full, place the pans in a preheated 325°F oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. In my oven, they were done in exactly 18 minutes. 

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When the doughnuts spring back to a light touch, they are done. Let them rest in the pans for 10 minutes before removing.

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Then, invert the pan over a cooling rack and allow the doughnuts to cool completely. These doughnuts literally fell out of their molds when I inverted the pan over a cooling rack. No prodding or coaxing. Awesome!

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Makes 12 mini donuts

For The Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked or 2-4 hours
  • ½ cup water, scant (just enough to reach the level of the nuts in the blender)
  • ½ tbsp. probiotics (about 10-12 capsules)

Place the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until the mixture is completely smooth – the mixture should be glossy and smooth – it should have the look and texture of commercial sour cream when it’s ready. If you have a VitaMix, this will take about 2 minutes but if you are using a less powerful, blender it may take longer (could take 8-10 minutes).

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Line a sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth or fine mesh and place the sieve over a small bowl. Pour the “cream cheese” into the cheesecloth and pull the corners of the cloth up and over the cheese to cover completely. Twist the ends to maintain a secure closure and then place a can of vegetables or pie weights if you have them on top to weigh the cheese down. Loosely cover the whole ensemble with saran wrap and place the bowl in a warm place for 24-48 hours. (The length of time will depend on how fast the cheese ripens and how warm the environment is). I used my dehydrator to speed up the process (I left the bowl in the dehydrator at about 80°F – 90°F) and the cheese was ready in just under 24 hours. Alternatively, you can leave the bowl in a cold oven with  the light turned on. 

Once the cheese is thick and ripe, unwrap it and scoop it into a clean bowl. Add a pinch of salt and whisk until the mixture is free of any lumps.  Don’t worry if the cheese developed a crust on the outside edges during the ripening process – just add it in to the mixture and break it up with the whisk. When nice and smooth, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours to firm up. After 12 hours, the mixture will have the  consistency of store-bought cream cheese and taste exactly the same.

Measure out 1 cup and add:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together and spoon icing into a piping bag with a decorating tip. The icing will be soft, but will hold a shape. Pipe the icing over the tops of each doughnut and top with a few strands of carrot shavings. 

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Top with carrot shavings (optional). 

Carrot Shavings

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Peel a small carrot and then shave it. Toss the shavings with:

  • pinch of cinnamon,
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of maple syrup, – just enough to enable the shavings to stick. 

Place carrots on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 300°F oven for about 10 minutes. They should be golden brown and starting to crisp – if necessary give them another minute or two but watch closely because they will burn. Allow to cool. They will crisp even more as they cool. Crumble the longer strands and sprinkle on the iced doughnuts. 

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