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Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I can count the number of the times I’ve tried to bake desserts that skew more towards healthy than sinful and my experiences have mostly led me to believe that when you want a sweet, you just need to go for it. There was one incident where Pintest led me to believe it was a good idea to bake cookies with chickpeas…that was an epic fail. I couldn’t even stomach chickpeas for weeks after that scarring incident, much less the cookies themselves.

Lately, I have been interested in experimenting with baking with almond flour. Not because I have any plans on going gluten-free but I have been reducing (not eliminating…there is a distinction) my intake of processed foods, wheat, sugar, dairy, etc. I shared with y’all several weeks ago that I’m just trying to eat a little cleaner overall while still enjoying the occasional pizza, bowl of ice cream, etc.

So…that brings us to these cupcakes. I bookmarked this gluten-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free carrot cake recipe from Mama Pea last May and I just got up the courage to try it this this week.

I took Mama Pea’s recipe and after some research decided to make a few tweaks as well as third the recipe and make mini-cupcakes instead of a cake. I read that almond flour doesn’t rise the way normal flour does so I thought this might be a bit more palatable as bites instead of a slice of dense cake. I also wanted to add some nuts, raisins and coconut to the recipe because I love those things in my carrot cake.

This recipe uses maple syrup to sweeten the batter instead of sugar. I love the flavor of maple syrup and I think it compliments all the flavors that you get with carrot cake so it was a welcome swap for me. Another interesting thing about this recipe is that it calls for steamed shredded carrots instead of raw. I had never tried this in a carrot cake and I think it really helped keep the cake moist (especially with the use of the coarser almond flour) as well as improved the texture since you didn’t have stringy carrot bites.

I have to say I was pretty thrilled with how these turned out. I want to make it clear that this is not your typical carrot cake but a really delicious, a little less sweet and heartier take on it. The cake is pretty dense but it really works in the mini form with a dollop of cream cheese icing (also sweetened with maple syrup). The addition of the walnuts, golden raisins and coconut really put these over the top. I would definitely take these out to share…even to those who aren’t typically into this style of eating/baking.

I also want to note that I think these would also be great without the frosting as a little energy bite kind of thing. Although I will always say give me that frosting! 😉

Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes
(Recipe adapted from Peas & Thank You)


1/3 pound carrots, peeled and cut into chunks + 3 tablespoons water
1 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons maple syrup (taste your batter and add a little more if you need)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 organic eggs or egg-replacer equivalent
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnut or pecans
1/4  cup shredded coconut

1/3 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a mini cupcake pan with 12 liners.

Steam carrots in a microwave-safe bowl with the 3 tablespoons of water for about 5-7 minutes, checking every few minutes to see if they are ready. Place carrots and cooking water in a food processor and puree.

Combine almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl. Stir together maple syrup, coconut oil, egg or egg replacer and vanilla in another bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and then fold in carrots, raisins, nuts and coconut. Divide batter among muffin tins and bake 16-20 minutes or until set in center. Remove to wire rack to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld paddle mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, maple syrup and vanilla until incorporated and fluffy.

Yield: 12 mini cupcakes


{ 15 comments… add one }
  • She Rocks Fitness April 5, 2013, 5:59 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more when it comes to sweets. There are certain things that just need to be cooked with butter, sugar, and flour. I’ve seen lots of recipes for chickpeas and avocado brownies, black bean brownies…That just sounds gross to me! Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!

    • LindieLoop December 10, 2013, 5:29 am

      Just hvae to say, I have a friend who makes chocolate mud cake with kidney beans… They are out of this world! She is getting constant requests whenever we have a party to bring this treat along.

  • Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run April 5, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Yum, thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Linda April 5, 2013, 7:03 pm

    Wonder if you could use pureed baby food carrots? Be quicker than peeling, cutting, steaming, pureeing.

  • Nelly April 5, 2013, 9:49 pm

    Looks so good! I just bookmarked it!

  • Allie @ Allie's Appetite April 6, 2013, 3:12 pm

    I actually prefer almond flour baked goods over grain flour, I think it gives them a richer taste and texture. I wonder if you could bake this recipe in a loaf pan rather than cupcake tins and eat it for breakfast like banana bread… 🙂

  • meghan @ struggle muffins April 6, 2013, 6:41 pm

    Oh these look delicious AND totally feasible – usually I can manage one but not the other. Will be whipping up a batch soon – I like where your head’s at with the mini size!

  • Loewyn May 15, 2013, 5:09 am

    I’m currently on a really restrictive detox diet and have been dying for something sweet. I tried this recipe but my coop didn’t have almond flour so I used 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 2 Tb coconut flour. And I substituted two (small) bananas for egg. I wouldn’t call them cupcakes as much as muffins (I eat them w/o frosting) but I was shocked – SHOCKED – at how good they turned out!!!

  • kebke August 16, 2013, 3:50 am

    I’m also on a restrictive detox and have been craving a good dessert all week. I tried this out and LOVED IT! I replaced the raisins with fresh chopped bananas, and I veganized the cream cheese frosting by using Tofutti instead of the real stuff. Truly amazed at how delicious these cupcakes turned out and stoked to have this recipe in my pocket for future treats!!

  • Son November 17, 2014, 9:20 pm

    How many cups of pureed carrots are used? I’m substituting pureed pumpkin, so I can’t measure out 1/3 pound of carrots.

  • Gretchen January 14, 2016, 1:06 pm

    I was out of Almond flour so I used 1/2c each coconut & rice flours. I didn’t completely purée the carrots. Used regular sized muffins. They don’t rise much but very moist and texture great. No cream cheese available but very tasty without the frosting. I’m thinking a little whipped cream might be good in a pinch too. Thank you!

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