Robin Asbell, author of Sweet & Easy Vegan, is not only a terrific author and writer but also the epitome of graciousness. In my infinite wisdom (NOT), I sent this author – known for her vegetarian and vegan recipes – a link to my recipe for chili chicken. She did not wince, did not complain but instead shared it with her readers saying it would be so great to make the dish with a vegetarian substitute. I love people like that who save me from myself!

Now onto the really good stuff: Robin has a new book out, Sweet & Easy Vegan, that has some delicious desserts that I loved. This is a big deal. I am not vegan.. not by a long shot. When the book first arrived, i was not even sure it would have anything for me. But, I am happy to say, that I was wrong.

Here is why:

1. In easy to understand language, she explainers alternative sweeteners on the market and their nutritional values. I learned a lot from reading the sections on using whole grains to make desserts and also how to use different substitutes for milk, cream, eggs etc when baking desserts.

2.  I liked that the book had really easy recipes that did not require fussing – a simple pumpkin granola and a very easy maple almond granola.

3. While there are beautiful breads, scones and muffins in the book, what I fell in love with was the dessert section featuring fruits. Some how I kept thinking the book would be full of cookie recipes (dont ask me why) and i was so thrilled to see the book filled with pages of glorious recipes using fresh fruits – green and red grapes in champagne, oranges and mint in cinnamon syrup and so many more!

I think this is a great book and one that you will return to again and again for all the variety offered!

Enjoy this recipe which I think this just terrific!

Carrot-Orange Cake with Marmalade Glaze

By Robin Asbell

From her book Sweet & Easy Vegan (Chronicle Books, 2012)

Reprinted (with photo) with permission from publisher and author

This moist and lovely carrot cake is graced with the flavor of maple syrup and studded with juicy raisins. Instead of the usual creamy frosting, it’s topped with a tangy, fruity glaze decorated with canned mandarin oranges. They sparkle like jewels, calling everyone to have a piece.

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

2½ cups/325 g whole-wheat pastry flour

¼ cup/50 g Sucanat or granular palm sugar

1 tbsp grated orange zest

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¾ cup/180 ml nondairy milk

2 tsp egg replacer, such as Ener-G

¾ cup/180 ml maple syrup

½ cup/120 ml canola oil

2 cups/220 g grated carrots

1 cup/170 g raisins

Glaze

¼ cup/60 ml orange juice concentrate

3 tbsp agave syrup

1 tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch

½ cup/120 ml fruit sweetened marmalade

10 oz/280 g canned mandarin oranges (packed in water), drained and patted dry

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Oil a 10-in/25-cm springform pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, Sucanat, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and whisk until well mixed. In a medium bowl, whisk the nondairy milk and egg replacer together until smooth and frothy. Whisk in the maple syrup and canola oil. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the carrots and raisins.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it in an even layer. Bake for 1 hour, until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and dry.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Run a table knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cake, still on the bottom of the springform pan, on a cake plate.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice concentrate, agave syrup, and arrowroot starch and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in the marmalade, then put the pan over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Put 3 tbsp of the glaze in a bowl, add the mandarin oranges, and stir gently until evenly coated. Spread the remainder of the glaze over the cake and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Arrange the orange sections on top of the cake and refrigerate again.

Serve chilled. Stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, the cake will keep for about 1 week.

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