amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Sweet Potato Carrot cakes with Cilantro and Chili topped with Cashew Lime Sour Cream

POSTED ON March 4, 2014

cakes, cashew sour cream and garnishes

cakes, cashew sour cream and garnishes

As I rummaged for lively looking vegetables at the health food store recently, my idea for these cakes changed numerous times. At first they were curried, then root vegetable, then herbed, then I finally settled on this recipe. Usually “what to cook” becomes clear to me once I’ve stood before organic vegetables for a minute or two –although a walk thru the farmer’s market most of the year can result in a flood of ideas, usually too many to organize into a single meal. Fresh, colorful vegetables speak to me in a way that triggers cravings and a desire for a certain flavor combination; they catch my attention and ultimately, they themselves decide what will end up becoming dinner.

Of course it becomes more difficult for the veggies to “speak” by the time it gets to the tail end of winter, when they’ve lost much of their vitality from being stored for long periods of time or shipped from warmer regions.  So my solution is to visualize flavor combinations before heading to the store.

These cakes, despite the winding road it took to get to them were tasty and delicious. I love the way the whipped cashew cream highlights the sweet vegetables, cilantro and chili.  Keep the recipe on hand for topping anything that needs a creamy and tangy component.

sweet potato carrot cakes

sweet potato carrot cakes

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

cashew lime sour cream

cashew lime sour cream

Sweet Potato Carrot Cakes with Cilantro and Chili

I didn’t end up using all the red lentils that I cooked, but I’ve left the full amount here as it’s only a cup and I find it’s good to have protein on hand for quick meals.

Makes about 14 2 ½-inch cakes

1 ¼ cup red lentils, rinsed

1 ½ cups filtered water

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, plus more for brushing pan and cakes

1 large onion, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

2-inch piece peeled fresh turmeric, finely grated or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric

1 red chili, thinly sliced ( I used a red jalapeno) plus more to garnish

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems, from one bunch cilantro

3 medium carrots, grated, divided (about 6 cups)

2 small sweet potatoes, grated (I used one regular and one Japanese sweet potato)

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, plus more to garnish

2 scallions thinly sliced

1 teaspoon tamari, plus more to taste

1 ½ teaspoons brown rice vinegar

Combine lentils and water in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and set aside covered while you prepare the other ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, brush paper with coconut oil (you may have to melt it first) and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (convection bake) or 400 degrees if you don’t have a convection setting.

Warm coconut oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and add onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and a large pinch of salt and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric, chili and cilantro stems and cook 2 minutes longer. Reserve about 1 cup of grated carrot and add the rest to the skillet along with the grated sweet potato. Cook, stirring for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not soft. Remove from heat, stir in remaining carrot, cilantro leaves, scallions, tamari and rice vinegar and set aside.

Remove 1 cup of red lentils from the pot and save for another use. Place remaining red lentils into skillet and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and tamari and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Shape into cakes, using a ¼ cup measure as a guide. Flatten them a little, place on prepared tray and brush with coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until browning on the bottom. Flip over and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on each side.

Cashew Lime Sour Cream

Use this tangy, light cream anywhere you would use regular sour cream.

1 cup cashews, soaked 4 to 6 hours

Zest of one lime

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste


Drain and rinse cashews and place in an upright blender. Set lime zest aside and add remaining ingredients. Blend until completely smooth and velvety, scraping sides as necessary. Season to taste and add reserved lime zest. Pulse to combine and pour into a bowl. Place in the fridge for an hour or until ready to serve. Sour cream will last 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.


POSTED IN Gluten free, Mains

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  • Oh my goodness these look amazing. Do you think they would freeze better before or after baking?

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Katie,

      Yes I would freeze before baking. They are quite moist so you may need to bake them a little longer after freezing.
      Let me know how you like them!

      • Thank you for the response Amy! I made this for company on Friday and we all loved it. I ended up assembling the cakes the morning of and storing in the fridge until dinner, then baking which worked perfectly (froze the other half un-baked to have on hand). The cakes had an amazingly fresh and bright flavor. The chili, cilantro, and vinegar really came through and complemented the sweet potato. And the cashew cream was perfect with it. Love this and will be making again.

  • oh yum these look incredible! i know what you mean about the veggie “speaking” less this time of year. but we are so close to spring 🙂

  • Bonnie says:

    Mmm delicious, That sour cream would be great with Chili too!

  • Amy says:

    I just made these and they are amazing! Thank you, Amy – your recipes are always wonderful!

  • Monica says:

    These are INCREDIBLE! I’ve been digging into your dazzling cookbook and website and decided to make these for dinner earlier this week. Also, the leftover cakes reheated beautifully the next day (the cashew cream tasted even better). Thanks for the continued education and inspiration!

  • joanne says:

    I’d love to try this recipe, but I don’t like anything that is spicey hot. and wonder if it would taste as good without the red jalapenos.. I don’t know much about peppers, but am assuming that red jalapenos are hot. Or is there a milder substitution you can recommend? Thanks!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Joanne,

      I would just leave them out. Jalapenos vary so much in heat and some have no heat at all….but you have to taste them to test them 🙂
      These cakes have plenty of flavor without the chili.
      Amy x

  • joanne says:

    Thanks Amy! Also you have 2 small sweet potatoes in the recipe, but they come in varying sizes, so can you tell me how many cups of grated sweet potato is needed?

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