3/4cupraw walnuts or pecansplus additional for decorating the cake
1 ½teaspoonsground cinnamon
3/4cupspacked dark brown sugar
1/3cuppure maple syrup
2teaspoonspure vanilla extract
2cupsshredded carrotsabout 4 medium or 10 ounces
3/4cupshredded unsweetened coconut
FOR THE FROSTING:
8ouncesreduced fat cream cheese
2tablespoonsunsalted butterat room temperature
2 to 3cupspowdered sugar
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1/8teaspoonpure almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two, 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then coat with nonstick spray. Lightly dust with almond flour, tapping out excess.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until toasted and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Remove to a cutting board. Let cool slightly. Measure out ¾ cup, then finely chop for the batter. Reserve the rest for decorating the cake.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and remaining 3 cups almond flour.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar on medium high until pale toasty brown, fluffy, and nearly tripled in volume, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Don’t shortcut this step—it helps make the batter airy). Beat in the maple syrup and vanilla.
Pat the carrots dry. Place in a clean medium mixing bowl. Stir in the oil, coconut, raisins, and chopped nuts.
With the mixer running on low speed, add one-third of the almond flour mixture to the egg mixture. Once it disappears, add half of the carrot mixture. Add the next one-third of the flour mixture, then remaining carrot mixture, then the last one-third of the flour, fully incorporating after each addition.
Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake layers until the cake is lightly browned on top, a toothpick inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean, and the tops spring back lightly when touched about, 20 to 25 minutes. The cakes will be a deep golden brown. Place the pans on a wire rack and let cool in the pans 10 minutes. Carefully run a dull knife around edges to release the cakes, then invert them onto the rack to cool completely.
While the cakes bake, prepare the frosting. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smoothly combined, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Beat until combined. Continue adding the last 1 cup sugar, until the frosting is as stiff and sweet as you'd like (the more powdered sugar you add, the stiffer and sweeter it will be). Add the vanilla, almond, and salt. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until smooth, ultra creamy, and a little lighter and fluffier, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4 full minutes. Refrigerate to firm up a little while the cake continues baking and cools. If it firms up too much to spread easily depending upon how long you keep it in your fridge, let stand at room temperature prior to frosting, until it is easily spreadable.
Assemble the cake: Trim the domed top of one cake layer so that it is flat, then place the layer trimmed-side up a serving plate. Tuck strips of parchment paper around the edges to protect the plate from drips. Spread 1/3 of the frosting on top. Top with remaining cake layer, domed-side up. Spread the top with a thick layer of additional frosting. Keep the sides very lightly frosted (think decorative smear). Decorate with remaining nuts as desired.
TO MAKE DAIRY FREE: Use your favorite dairy-free or vegan cream cheese frosting recipe.
TO STORE: Cover the cake, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
TO FREEZE: Cut your cake into slices, and individually freeze each slice in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Remove and thaw slices as desired in the refrigerator.