Last year, in the fall, since that other vegan turtle cake was so good, I decided to make a pumpkin turtle cake. It turned out amazing as well, and since I tend to be more of a spice cake kind of a girl than a chocolate cake girl, the combination together was perfect! Since I have since become a raw vegan, my challenge to myself last weekend was to make a raw vegan version of that pumpkin turtle cake.
For the cake layers I used a mixture of buckwheat, walnuts and coconut, because I find that it makes the cake a little lighter than simply nuts alone. Of course plenty of pumpkin and spice as well, with dates to sweeten. I knew it would be delicious because I had to enjoy the extra batter left over after I had spread it out onto the dehydrator sheets.
I made a raw date caramel, one of my favorite things on Earth lately to go between the layers and on top of the cake. It was hard to quit sampling it, but knew I would not end up with a pretty cake if I didn't. I made a luscious fudgy frosting, and enjoyed my time assembling the cake, because in my opinion, decorating a cake is one of the most relaxing, calming activities you can do. Plus, of course the fact that you get to eat the leftover frosting. The cake turned out beautifully! As I was diving into a large piece of it, I couldn't help but think that this raw version was my favorite of the three turtle cakes I have made in the last couple years.
2 cups sprouted, dried buckwheat (or additional walnuts if unavailable)
1 3/4 cups dried shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 inch chunk fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
18 medjool dates, pitted
2 cups cubed raw organic squash*
3/4 cup raw coconut nectar or raw agave nectar or raw honey
3/4 cup sifted raw cocoa powder, or more if needed
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp maple extract
20 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped pecans for filling
3/4 cup whole pecans for topping
To make the cake, combine coconut, and buckwheat in the food processor and process until finely ground. Add the sea salt, ginger, spices, vanilla, and dates and process until well blended and starting to hold together. Remove from processor and transfer to a large bowl. Place the squash in the food processor and process until very finely chopped, add back in nut mixture and process until combined. Shape the mixture into 3 four inch (about) circles, and place on a teflex lined dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate for 6 hours, then flip over and let dehydrate another 2 or 3. Remove from the dehydrator and set aside while you prepare the frosting and caramel.
To make the frosting, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth (if too thick add a little water, and if too thin, a little more cocoa powder). Set aside.
To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth, adding a little more water if too thick (you want to be able to drizzle it). Press the mixture through a fine meshed strainer to get rid of any date bits (optional, but creates a smoother caramel).
To assemble the cake, place one round on a plate. Spread a couple Tbsp of frosting over, then a couple Tbsp of caramel. Then top off with a few chopped pecans. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Then top with the top cake layer. Spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Drizzle remaining frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake (if you put it in a bag and cut the corner off (pastry bag style) it makes it easier). Top off with the whole pecans, arranging them decoratively.
*I use squash because it is sweeter than pumpkin and tastes better raw. You can use raw pumpkin if you prefer.