Raw Pumpkin Turtle Cake

There is a restaurant called Cafe Latte in St. Paul MN, that serves an amazing cake, called Turtle Cake.  Ït is a decadent chocolate cake with lots of gooey fudge, caramel and pecans in between the cake layers. Anyone who lives in the twin cities practically has heard of it, and I admit I used to go there and order it to go many times when I was in college.  A couple years ago, I decided to recreate a vegan version of it and it was even better than the original.

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.

Raw Pumpkin Turtle Cake

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*

1/2 Frosting:
3/4 cup raw coconut nectar

1 1/2 Tbsp raw coconut oil, liquified

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 raw coconut nectar
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.

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About the Author

I am a vegan girl who loves to make healthier desserts and dishes with lots of veggies. Recipes are meant to be shared, that is why I started blogging!

  1. October 31, 2012 at 13:28

    Do you have the recipe for the regular vegan pumpkin turtle cake you made? I don't have a dehydrator yet!

    • November 1, 2012 at 12:15

      You can make the cake in the oven at a low temp to, like 150 or the lowest it will go, it will just take less time. But here is the other cake: http://fragrantvanillacake.blogspot.com/2011/10/pumpkin-turtle-cake.html

  2. October 31, 2012 at 13:43

    oh wow this cake looks wonderful! so much in love with raw cakes!

    • November 1, 2012 at 12:15

      Thank you :)! Me too!

    • November 1, 2012 at 12:15

      Thanks Heather :)!

  3. October 31, 2012 at 14:28

    Wow Amy, this looks superb! I've just come from Facebook for a closer look. These raw versions you've been turning out are inspiring. Brava!

    • November 1, 2012 at 12:15

      Thanks so much Brooks :)! Can't wait to experiment more!

  4. October 31, 2012 at 15:47

    Please go into business and sell these cakes via mail order!! Please!!<br />ka

    • November 1, 2012 at 12:16

      Maybe someday ;)!

    • November 1, 2012 at 12:16

      Thank you :)!

  5. November 2, 2012 at 07:47

    This is just perfection! It looks too pretty to eat! ;)

    • November 3, 2012 at 12:22

      Thanks so much :)! It is until the smell gets to you and you have to dive in ;).

  6. November 2, 2012 at 20:35

    You are amazing. All your stuff looks great but this looks extra amazing.

    • November 3, 2012 at 12:22

      Thanks so much Sarah :)!

  7. Eglu
    November 4, 2012 at 05:23

    Hi Amy - this cake looks SO beautiful and delicious, I am super amazed as always. You are really an artist!<br />I know I bugged you about this before - but I tried using raw butternut squash for a former recipe, and it was very astringent and bitter. I want to try this one too but really wondering what is your trick with the squash? Am I using the wrong kind? Am I supposed to prepare it a certain way? (I just chopped it up) Is it because I am in Canada the short season makes the veggies taste different here? <br />I hope I am not bugging you too much with this! Again - your blog is amazing! I've tried several of your recipes and all came out delicious (though never quite as beautiful as you make them - its really impressive!!!)

    • November 4, 2012 at 16:25

      Thanks so much :)! <br />You are never bugging me, happy to answer questions. I do not do anything special with the squash, the butternut should not be bitter, maybe it was a bad one? I usually use kabocha or hubbard though, as they are naturally sweeter. I chop mine up as well, so you did nothing wrong. <br />So happy you are making my recipes, and letting me know how they tun out :)!

    • November 9, 2012 at 13:20

      I do hope you do :)!

  8. Anonymous
    December 9, 2012 at 19:39

    Hey Amy, so no actual pumpkin in this? Thanks so much :)

    • December 9, 2012 at 20:04

      Nope, I prefer the taste of squash. I named it pumpkin because otherwise people will judge and not look at it because of bias towards pumpkin ;). But I give the option of using pumpkin if people want it ;).

    • Anonymous
      December 9, 2012 at 22:37

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Branka
    January 25, 2013 at 14:18

    Hi Amy, I made this cake yesterday (for my hubby´s b-day)and I can honestly say it´s one of the best cakes I´ve ever tasted. Heavenly! Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • January 26, 2013 at 04:14

      Awesome :)! So happy you made it and enjoyed the cake! Happy to share my recipe with you.

  10. Elle
    October 28, 2015 at 15:35

    I am making this cake for my husband's birthday on Thursday but can't find maple extract anywhere!!!! Are there substitutions you'd recommend? Should I use maple syrup? I know it's not technically raw, but I want the cake to taste right...

    • October 28, 2015 at 22:50

      You may just leave it out and the recipe will still taste fabulous :).

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