A Coconut Lover's Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake With Tulip by Dena T Bray

Mother’s Day is around the corner. When my husband asked me what I wanted to do in celebration, I suggested we go to Boston for the day to lunch at our favorite trattoria. The Trattoria Il Panino is a tiny restaurant, off the beaten path from the main street of the Italian section called the North End. The food is always delicious―my family tends to order their handmade pastas with red sauce or pesto, while my favorite dish is a mixed seafood grill that is always done to perfection―and the staff there are as warm and genuine as the foods they serve.

The place holds a lot of memories for our family. Over the years we’ve had many celebrations in that tiny space and welcomed friends from all over the world. So, when we go there, I feel the warmth of all those great memories in addition to the new ones that we are in the process of creating.

Our son Clark can’t be with us on Mother’s Day―he’s still away at school in Montreal―but I will feel him with us because I know that the tastes and smells of the place are something he’s also very familiar with. It will make the day complete feeling he is a part of things with us. I can’t wait to celebrate my favorite role in the world, the role of mother.

Here are a few of my favorite photos of me and my kids over the years. I love them more each day.

Dena T Bray with Her Children, A Collage for Mother's Day

This Coconut Lover's Carrot Cake is my gift to each of you for the holiday. Whether you make it for yourself or as part of a gift to your mother, it is sure to please. The original recipe was given to me last week by my friend Katherine M. Sweetened by a combination of carrots, dates and pure maple syrup, this cake is light and airy. It is made with coconut flour and topped with toasted coconut, so it's a coconut lover's dream. Enjoy it with a bit of cream cheese frosting in between its layers, or keep super-light by topping it only with the toasted coconut. Make it part of Mother’s Day brunch or dessert at dinner. Either way, please enjoy this unique and flavorful cake.

How will you celebrate Mother's Day?

Have a wonderful holiday.

Happy Mother’s Day, all.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Carrot Cake with Crunchy Coconut Topping by Dena T. Bray©


Yield: 1 8-inch round cake, about 12 servings


  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature,+ a little more to grease the pans
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 medium-sized carrots, peeled, rinsed and trimmed
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 10 pitted dates
  • 10 large eggs, shells removed and lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Spread the coconut flakes evenly on a half sheet pan. Place in oven to brown, about ten minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
  3. Liberally grease 2, 8-inch cake pans with coconut oil. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and grease again.
  4. Sift together the coconut flour, sea salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  5. Place the cleaned carrots in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Chop the carrots finely. Add the maple syrup or honey and the dates. Chop again, until the dates are fully chopped and the syrup or honey is fully combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Pulse until everything is fully combined. Add the sifted dry ingredients. Pulse again just to combine all the ingredients.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the two baking pans.
  7. Place in oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely in the the pans, then remove the cakes and place on a clean work surface.
  9. Prepare the frosting by beating all the ingredients together with a wire whisk or in a mixer.
  10. Place a layer of the cake on a serving platter. Spread half the frosting on that layer and sprinkle with half the toasted coconut flakes. Place the second layer on top of the first. Spread it with the remaining frosting and top with the remaining coconut flakes.
  11. Serve and enjoy.


  1. This recipe was adapted from Primal Plate.
  2. If you do not have a food processor, chop the carrots and dates finely by hand in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients. Mix again until they are fully incorporated.
  3. For a lighter cake, serve the individual layers without the frosting and topped only with the coconut flakes.
  4. For a richer cake, use sweetened coconut flakes instead of unsweetened.
  5. Consider serving this cake with tea or coffee and a platter of fresh fruit.

Carrot and Coconut Cake with Blues by Dena T Bray ©
Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.