Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Recipe Connection: Cake Frosting Without any Sweetener at All

May 22nd, 2013 · 22 Comments · Recipes

Frosting with Zero Sweetener

It’s a “you’ll never guess what’s in it” sort of recipe today.

Like those black bean brownies from The Everything Beans Book (Buy 1, Get 4 this week only!), it’s almost unfathomable that a frosting recipe could have no dairy, no sweeteners, no egg…and still taste pretty darn awesome.

I’d like to call it a “sugar free frosting,” but that conjures up nasty images of artificial sweeteners dancing in my head, so I’ll refrain. This one is all whole foods, no artificials, no stevia.

In the past, I’ve only made two kinds of frosting: this one adapted from my childhood to be slightly healthier but still packed with sugar, and a yogurt cheese frosting with a bit of maple syrup and almond extract like I put on my healthy fruit pizza. Since my husband doesn’t care for the latter, which is actually the healthy one, it was exciting to come across something totally new.

I was quite skeptical that it would be any good and then pleasantly surprised.

I’ve been referring to my review copy of Nourishing Meals by Ali Segersten and Nourishing MealsTom Maltere, MS, CN, quite often since I received it last summer. Many of the recipes are very out of the box for me, and it’s pushed me to (finally) get into some gluten-free baking beyond stuff with coconut flour or almond flour.

This First Communion cake that I introduced in today’s Real Food Party Menu Plan was the blackberry buckwheat cake on p. 467, if you have the book, except I cut the spices, scraped a vanilla bean into it instead, and used raspberries. So it was a raspberry vanilla bean cake, I suppose, but I couldn’t have made it without Tom and Ali’s help!

I modified the Cashew Date Frosting on p. 470, although I made the test batch the week prior and used some of the leftovers to help cover the entire layer cake.

First Communion gluten-free cake

The color of the frosting in the photos is the way it is naturally; I’m not sure you could make it any other colors, especially not with any natural food coloring. The white part is actually a bit of yogurt cheese frosting, since I was making yogurt cheese for the dip at the party anyway and had to have something of another color to write words in.

I added the raspberries (frozen) that morning because I knew they would bleed pink (and they did). It was fun to have raspberries both in and on the cake.

Cashew Date Frosting Recipe (no sweetener!)
Prep time
Total time
I'm indebted to Nourishing Meals by Ali Segersten and Tom Malterre for the springboard for this amazing recipe!
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: about 2 cups
  • 1 c. raw cashews (not the salted, roasted kind)
  • ½ c. dates, pitted (any kind)
  • ¾ c. water (shoot low, you can always add more)
  • ½ c. soft coconut cream (aka coconut butter)
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  1. You'll need a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec for this one; I really can't imagine a regular blender or food processor making it through the dates and nuts this way. (See my Blendtec review)
  2. Soak the cashews and dates in the water for 3-4 hours. Measure carefully because you're not going to drain the water. If you're cooking anything during this time, set your jar of coconut cream on the stovetop to soften.
  3. Before you begin the rest of the process, make sure your coconut cream concentrate is soft. If it's not almost fluid from sitting near a hot pot, you'll want to measure the half cup and gently warm it in a pan over low heat until quite creamy.
  4. Blend the soaked nut and dates on high for 30 to 60 seconds until very smooth and creamy. Add the softened coconut cream, vanilla and salt. Blend again until smooth and fully incorporated.
  5. Scrape the frosting out into a bowl and refrigerate overnight; it will thicken up quite a bit once chilled. If you want a very soft frosting, either don't refrigerate it or allow it to warm on the counter for an hour before spreading. You can also whip it up a bit with a spoon or fork. Only frost cakes once entirely cooled.
* Store leftover frosting in the refrigerator for about a week before it starts seeming a little weird.

* The frosting will do fine at room temp for a day or two when it's on a cake that can't be refrigerated.

* You should be able to frost at least 12 cupcakes, a 9x13 cake, or, if you stretch it, a whole 2-layer cake, especially if the center layer is nut butter or something else.

* The original recipe called for ¾ c. melted coconut oil instead of the coconut cream, in case you don't have any on hand. I have a feeling that version was quite runny to begin with.


First Communion gluten-free cake

Frosting Tip

Maybe everyone in the world knows this one, but if you’re frosting a cake on a pretty plate or stand, put parchment or waxed paper underneath all the edges, and then you don’t have to be super careful at the bottom:

Tip for mess-free frosting

Just slide it right out when you’re finished frosting (and maybe lick it before tossing it, if you’re that kind of person). Winking smileOther cakes we love:


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22 Comments so far ↓

  • Lisa @ A Little Slice of Life

    So what does the frosting taste like? Is it vanilla?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yes? Mostly…it’s hard to describe. The consistency is a little like an almond butter, but creamier, and yes, overall, vanilla. Probably tastes like dates too…I’m so bad at describing stuff like that! ;) Katie

  • Stephanie M

    I should have guessed cashew cream! Awesome! Maybe I’ll add some cocoa and put it on those black bean brownies…

  • Mandy P

    Is there something that be substituted for cashews? My daughter is allergic:(

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I wish I knew more about dairy-free recipes – cashews are often a sub for dairy in creamy things, but I don’t know that I’ve seen subs for the cashews…it would have to be a soft nut that got creamy…I wonder if the original authors at would know? Maybe ask on their Facebook page? Sorry I’m no help!

    Although, here’s one we’ve liked in the past that uses coconut cream – so you have something to work with! :) Katie

    Mandy P Reply:

    Thanks:) I’ll take a look at that one.

  • casey

    Off topic but i figured you’d see it faster if i put this in a comment rather than email. I don’t know if you’re familiar with, but it is a ‘deals’ site. Today on the kids woot, they have
    Plum Organics snacks for 38% off – $31,99 instead of $40.00. I don’t know anything about that brand so I’m not sure if they are good or not but I figured someone on here might be interested.

  • Bekki

    Aw, dang! I was so looking forward to this one, but I’m allergic to coconut.
    I’m interested in the Nourishing Meals cookbook… how heavily do they rely on coconut flour and other coconut stuff? The oil is fine for me, but not the flour, flakes, cream, milk, etc.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    If you are okay with the oil, you’re in the clear – at the bottom of the notes, I say what the original was, which was all coconut oil. Nourishing Meals doesn’t use a ton of coconut flour, no…I’d say you’d be able to make most of the recipes as written and maybe have to adapt some others, but they really use a lot of other gf flours in baking. :) Katie

    Bekki Reply:

    Yay! I’ll give it a try. I never did get around to making myself a birthday cake…

  • casey

    Could one not ‘dye’ the frosting with raspberry juice, or even just throw a couple raspberries in there to tint the frosting pink? (blueberries for blue – blackberries for purplish, etc).

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Maybe? It would still have the brown tint…but probably possible! Great thought! :) Katie

  • Abi Craig

    Haven’t managed to get a copy of their book yet, but their website ( is great! The Banana Almond Butter Muffins are wonderful. Now I just need a reason to make a frosted cake!

  • Jenny

    I love this! And I would definitely consider dates a sweetener.:) maybe Fruit-sweetened Frosting?

  • Margaret D

    I was getting excited about this until I saw cashews. We have tree nut and peanut butter allergies. I’ll have to keeping looking for a zero sweetener icing.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I’m wondering if something else could be just as creamy – maybe yogurt cheese with the soaked dates? Makes me want to experiment… ;) Katie

  • A Healthier Birthday Cake | diana meredith designs

    [...] found the frosting recipe here.  The frosting actually tasted REALLY good.  You can tell that it’s “healthy,” [...]

  • Deb

    Do you think regular butter would work in place of the coconut butter? Otherwise, I will use coconut oil, but it’s 100 degrees here, and I don’t want my daughter’s birthday cake to melt the second I take it out of the fridge.

    Helen @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:


    It’s my thinking that I’d do butter before I’d use coconut OIL in this recipe! Coconut cream is a bit thicker/firmer because it is coconut oil AND coconut solids. The coconut oil would melt before the butter would :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Coconut butter is coconut oil plus meat of the coconut, so…I’d use a combo of a bit of coconut oil and maybe shredded coconut whizzed like crazy in a blender first? If you have a highspeed blender, you can make coconut butter with normal coconut. Otherwise maybe butter or palm shortening would work, but I really have no idea! I don’t use coconut butter enough to understand its properties… hope it works out! I’d love to hear if you try any successful substitutes so I can let others know about them. Thanks! :) Katie

    Deb Reply:

    I didn’t have any shredded coconut, so I used regular butter, and it came out great. I have no idea how like/unlike the original recipe it is, but it seemed to create a frosting consistency and I was able to spread it on the cake just fine (and this was my first cake frosting experience). I also used peanut butter in place of the cashews because (a) I had it and (b) I have a KitchenAid blender – a nice one, but it’s not a VitaMix/BlendTec, so I was a little nervous about that. All in all, I am very pleased with how this came out and so happy to be able to give my daughter a special birthday cake without worrying that I was feeding her garbage. Thank you, Katie!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Wow, wonderful – huge substitutions and still a success, and it sounds like a very healthy frosting (and yummy!). Way to go! Thanks so much for sharing your tweaks, too – Katie

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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