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, it’s almost unfathomable that a frosting recipe could have no dairy, no sweeteners, no egg…and still taste pretty darn awesome.
I hate to call it a “sugar-free frosting,” since that conjures up nasty images of artificial sweeteners dancing in my head, but it’s true. This one is all whole foods, no artificials, no stevia (Read More: Is Stevia Safe?).
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 Tom 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.
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.Print
Cashew Date Frosting Recipe (no sugar!)
- Prep Time: 3 hours 15 mins
- Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: about 2 cups 1x
I’m indebted to Nourishing Meals by Ali Segersten and Tom Malterre for the springboard for this amazing recipe!
- 1 c. raw cashews (not the salted, roasted kind)
- 1/2 c. dates, pitted (any kind)
- 3/4 c. water (shoot low, you can always add more)
- 1/2 c. soft coconut cream concentrate (aka coconut butter)
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- pinch salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 9×13 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 3/4 c. melted coconut oil instead of coconut cream, in case you don’t have any on hand. I have a feeling that version was quite runny to begin with.
- Need a little help getting healthy food on the table every day? Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type, including GAPS, Paleo, AIP, Whole30, vegetarian and more! You remain totally in control: use your own recipes, accept theirs, and teach the system what your family likes…Check out how powerful it is here!
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:
Just slide it right out when you’re finished frosting (and maybe lick it before tossing it, if you’re that kind of person).
Other cakes we love:
- Healthy birthday cakes (coconut cake and classic whole grain butter cake)
- Sourdough chocolate cake (this is amazing for all ages, with red wine for the adults!)
30 thoughts on “Recipe Connection: Sugar Free Frosting Recipe (Date Sweetened!)”
What if you used coconut water or coconut milk instead of water to soak and blend cashews to give it more of a coconut taste and topped it with unsweetened coconut shavings? That would keep it vegan and low sugar content but would also cover up some of the date taste a little better.
That’s a great idea for those who like coconut! Thanks for sharing!
First I made this recipe as it’s written, and I hated the coconut cream. I’m not a fan of coconut flavor, but it also just felt so heavy and blegh. Personal preference. So I tossed it and tried again with Miyoko’s vegan butter (made with cashews and coconut oil). I liked it, but a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract was too much. It tasted like alcohol. Now I’ve made it again with just 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and it’s perfect. Freeze-dried strawberries would make a nice addition for strawberry frosting. Figured I’d share my tweaks. Thanks for the recipe! (Also, I have to second the comment suggesting that “without any sweetener” is inaccurate…I’d call it “fruit-sweetened” or “date-sweetened.”)
Thanks for sharing your tweaks! I don’t like coconut butter either, too sweet and heavy for me.
Hi thank you so much for this recipe. This is the only clean frosting recipe I found on internet after a long research. They all have artificial sweeteners in them.
One question, if I use cacao would it spoil the consistency?
Great question, Anil – in my experience with other frostings, cacao is going to thicken it up but shouldn’t ruin it. You could easily try just a bit of the frosting with added cacao so you don’t have to experiment with the whole batch. If you try it, LMK if it works? Thanks!
Ty! Made it with McCormick dye free coloring. Don’t have a high powered blender so I boiled the cashews and soaked the dates in hot water and blended with my hand blender. I let sit overnight in fridge and then rewarded, added a bit of hot water and blended again and it was very smooth! Teeeniest bit of grit but I don’t have 400 for a vitamix yet lol. I made 4 six ounce cakes for my daughters 1 yr so I had a practice one, a photo session one, an actual birthday one, and one for her party after. Wish I could share my photo! Thanks.
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.
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 🙂
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
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!
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
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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.
I’m wondering if something else could be just as creamy – maybe yogurt cheese with the soaked dates? Makes me want to experiment… 😉 Katie
I love this! And I would definitely consider dates a sweetener.:) maybe Fruit-sweetened Frosting?
Haven’t managed to get a copy of their book yet, but their website (www.nourishingmeals.com) is great! The Banana Almond Butter Muffins are wonderful. Now I just need a reason to make a frosted cake!
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).
Maybe? It would still have the brown tint…but probably possible! Great thought! 🙂 Katie
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.
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
Yay! I’ll give it a try. I never did get around to making myself a birthday cake…
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 woot.com, 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.
Is there something that be substituted for cashews? My daughter is allergic:(
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 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 – http://gnowfglins.com/2009/11/16/basic-vanilla-frosting/ so you have something to work with! 🙂 Katie
Thanks:) I’ll take a look at that one.
I should have guessed cashew cream! Awesome! Maybe I’ll add some cocoa and put it on those black bean brownies…
So what does the frosting taste like? Is it vanilla?
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