carrot cake with labneh frosting

Scrolling through my photo library has become an exercise in emotional torture…

How did I not know how good I had it when I was watching my daughter’s soccer game, visiting a friend in Seattle, working side-by-side with my Cup of Jo team, having a Friday night Negroni on the garden patio of my favorite neighborhood restaurant followed by a perfect bowl of ricotta gnocchi? It’s the last one that hurts the most. I know I’ll see my friends, watch another game, but restaurants? As we all know, their future, and the future of nearly 16 million out-of-work American restaurant workers, is catastrophically uncertain.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been donating to my locally-based relief funds where I can (when I’m not scrolling through my restaurant photos in a state I can only describe as “emotional lockdown”), so I was thrilled to hear about Family Meal, a digital-only instant cookbook that features favorite recipes from our favorite famous food people. All proceeds — as in 100% — go directly towards the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation Covid Crisis Relief Fund. For six bucks, you’ll get access to recipes like Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia, Eric Ripert’s Mushroom Bolognese, Bryant Terry’s Vegan Farm Box and Pantry Stir-Fry, Alison Roman’s “Perfect Breakfast” (aren’t you curious?), and, yes, the Adeena Sussman’s Carrot Snacking Cake with Labneh Frosting that you’re probably drooling over already. It’s extremely moist and the tahini adds a beautiful little twist. I mean come on, how good does that look? Especially knowing that by making this (and the others) you’ve given a little back.

carrot cake with labneh frosting

Adeena Sussman’s Carrot Snacking Cake with Labneh Frosting

From Tel Aviv-based Adeena: A small amount of tahini adds the tiniest bit of nuttiness to this cake, without a really discernible sesame flavor. The labneh frosting is a Middle East–meets–Midwest kind of a thing, indicative of my American-Israeli cooking style.

This makes one 9-by-9-inch cake.


1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large egg
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)


1 cup labneh (or full-fat Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
Dash of salt

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, egg, tahini, and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then stir in the sugar, coconut, and cinnamon. Gently whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, then stir in the grated carrot.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk together the labneh, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. When the cake has cooled, drizzle the glaze over top and serve.

Family Meal (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble) is a digital-only cookbook published by Penguin Random House. One hundred percent of proceeds go towards the RWCF COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund. You can also donate to the fund directly. Thank you!

P.S. A cinnamon donut snacking cake and reader comments on kindness.

(Photos by snack cake master Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)