Two of the best treats combined as one! Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Donuts are the perfect Easter and springtime sweet.
QUICK: What’s your favorite thing about spring?
For me, it’s the arrival of carrot cake season.
Ok, ok, it’s also the arrival of short sleeve season (FINALLY!), Peeps Popcorn (!!!!!) daffodils (my absolute favorite flower!) and daylight that lasts past 6pm.
But: CARROT CAKE. Who’s with me?
Since Easter is heavy on the mind over here, I was brainstorming ways that I could have my carrot cake for Easter brunch and eat it too.
….that is, without judgement, because – let’s be honest – nothing is holding me back from a big slice of carrot cake. Not even that annoying little “7:45am” display on the clock…
When pondering how I could brunchify this delightful treat, the question: “To donut, or not to donut” popped into my head. And I think we ALL know the answer to that question, without a shred of doubt, 100% of the time it is asked.
Have no fear, these donuts and baked and not fried, so it’s totally acceptable to go ahead and eat the WHOLE chocolate bunny right along side a few of these gluten-free carrot cake donuts. The last thing I would EVER want to do is put you in a position where you’d have to choose between a donut and chocolate, so baked donuts were the only choice.
ALSO, these gluten-free carrot cake donuts are even a little healthier than their run-of-the-mill carrot cake counterpart. You’re welcome 😉 But notice: I said healthIER and not healthy. While these have a little less sugar and oil than a standard carrot cake, and the icing is a little thinner than standard cream cheese icing, they’re still rich as ever, and definitely a treat.
But at least they’re a treat that you don’t have to feel quite as bad about after going back for seconds… and thirds… and, ahem, fourths.
Speaking of the cream cheese icing, does anyone else live for just about anything drenched in cream cheese frosting? It took 110% of my willpower to not take the whole bowl of icing straight to the face.
Despite the fact that these carrot cake donuts deliver a greater icing-to-cake ratio than a regular carrot cake, I might also be guilty of eating the icing half off of the top of a donut or two, and then covering the second half with MORE icing. It’s okay, go ahead and judge me, but let’s not pretend it isn’t a genius idea 😉 In my humble opinion, the cream cheese icing can NEVER be layered on too thick.
As if the high cream cheese icing to cake ratio wasn’t enough to sell you on these donuts, I’m certain that the pecans will. I think it’s no secret that I have a bit of a thing for nuts (hello Peppered Candied Pecans and a bajillion granola recipes) and I feel VERY strongly that pecans are superior to walnuts when it comes to carrot cake. Don’t get me wrong, I loooooove walnuts, but I believe that pecans deliver an unmatched richness and depth of flavor to carrot cake.
If you like walnuts better, to each their own! Just swap out the pecans for walnuts, 1 to 1. But, if you’ve never tried carrot cake with pecans, you simply have to give it a shot. I’m pretty certain you’ll never go back.
Between these glorious gluten-free carrot cake donuts and my gluten-free hot cross scones, it’s safe to say I am VERY anxiously awaiting Easter brunch this year. Bring on the baked goodies!
- ===CARROT CAKE DONUTS===
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup oil
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup greek yogurt
- 1 ½ teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free all purpose flour blend
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chopped pecans + ¼ cup toasted, chopped pecans
- ===CREAM CHEESE ICING===
- 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
- 1 ½ Tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and lightly spray a donut pan with cooking spray.
- Cream together the sugars and oil. Add in the greek yogurt, eggs, and vanilla, mixing well. Add in the shredded carrot and mix quickly.
- In a large bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (if necessary), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing well. Add the ½ cup pecans to the batter, and mix just until evenly dispersed.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag or a large plastic bag with a corner snipped off, and evenly pip the better into the donut pan cavities.
- Bake the donuts at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees without opening the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until slightly golden and cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the donuts to a cooking rack.
- To make the icing, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese, add in the vanilla, followed by the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth. Add in the milk ½ teaspoon at a time, until the cream cheese frosting is sufficiently thinned out.
- Once the donuts are cool, dip the top side into the cream cheese frosting. Return to the cooling rack and sprinkle the tops of the donuts with the remaining ¼ cup of toasted pecan pieces.