This vegan recipe proves that you don’t need butter to make a fudgy chocolate frosting.
Confession time: I usually scrape the frosting off of cakes and cupcakes before I eat them.
I know, something must be seriously wrong with me, but my ideal cake is one without frosting.
My husband tries to tell me that I should just eat muffins instead, but muffins and cupcakes are not the same thing.
A muffin should be dense and trick you into thinking that it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast, whereas a cupcake should be light and airy, and enjoying one should feel like eating dessert.
I love that. Just without the frosting part.
Cake – at least a good cake – should be moist with a rich flavor, and a texture that almosts melt in your mouth. But frosting can ruin the experience: it’s is usually way too sweet, sometimes a bit grainy from the sugar, and often overpowers the actual flavor of the cake.
If you ask me, it’s like the effect you get when you smear peanut butter on something. This is something that you should do only if you’re in the mood to experience the taste and texture of peanut butter, and basically nothing else.
But this fudgy date frosting is the exception.
When I first looked at the ingredients required to make this recipe, I was skeptical.
I love dates, and I use them all the time to make homemade date and nut bars. But a frosting made from dates? I figured it’d be too thin, and have a slight fruity taste.
Boy was I wrong.
Non-vegan fudge frosting usually requires plenty of butter and sugar, and oftentimes even more sugar in the form of corn syrup. But this vegan frosting is naturally sweetened, and only uses 1 tablespoon of almond butter to add a creamy, fatty element – no coconut oil or vegan butter substitute.
Nutritionally speaking, 1/2 cup of dates contains around 60 grams of sugar, whereas 1/2 cup of sugar is closer to 100 grams. They also contain over 6 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, as well as important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, copper, and vitamin B6.
Now, I’m not trying to tell you that this is a health food, but it is a healthier and equally delicious alternative to your standard cake topping.
But back to the frosting! Something magical happens when soaked dates are blended. You end up with a consistency that’s similar to a soft caramel. Add in the almond butter and cocoa powder, and the result is a velvety smooth frosting that spreads beautifully on a chocolate cake.
I used this frosting to top my chocolate wacky cake (which also happens to be vegan), and couldn’t stop sneaking bites straight from the cake pan.
Guys, I even scraped up bites of this frosting without any cake also being present on the fork. It really is that good.
Even after five days, what little was left was every bit as rich and indulgent as when I first made it, without any weird changes to the texture. I don’t know if cake usually lasts that long in your house, but just in case it does, know that you are still good to go.Print
Fudgy, decadent, and vegan, this chocolate date frosting is naturally sweetened and spreads beautifully on top of a homemade cake.
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 6–7 large)
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut or almond butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place dates and hot water in a high-speed blender or food processor, and let soak for 10 minutes.
- Once dates have softened, blend on high or pulse until smooth.
- Add cocoa powder, almond butter, and salt. Blend or pulse until well combined.
- Pour frosting into a bowl or resealable container. Use immediately, or store for 5-7 days max.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: No-Cook, Blender
- Cuisine: Vegan
Keywords: frosting, fudge frosting, dates, vegan dessert, chocolate
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure and Prep Ingredients
Measure out all of your ingredients, so they will be ready to go.
If your dates are whole, remove the pits. Heat up the water on the stove or in the microwave.
Place dates and hot water in a high-speed blender or food processor, and allow the dried fruit to soak for 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Blend
Once the fruit is nice and soft, blend on high or pulse until very smooth.
Scrape down the sides of the blending container if you need to.
Step 3 – Add Remaining Ingredients
Add the almond butter, salt, and cocoa powder.
Blend or pulse until fully combined.
Again, you many need to stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything is blended together thoroughly.
Step 4 – Frost or Store
This frosting is ready to use right out of the blender, with no chilling required. If you don’t plan to use it right away, store it in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days.
Note: The consistency becomes more mousse-like if stored in the fridge.
Picking the Perfect Date
While choosing the right person to share this frosting with is an important decision, picking the right type of dates to make it with is even important. While there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of varieties out there, the two most common are Medjool and Deglet Noor.
Medjool dates are larger than most other varieties and have brown or almost black skins. They’re popular in baking and cooking, thanks to their sweetness and moist texture.
While dates can get a little pricey, you can save some money by buying them from the bulk bins at your local grocery store.
Deglet Noor dates are drier and firmer than Medjool dates, and have a pretty amber color. They tend to have a more nutty flavor and hold up well when cooked.
If you can find them, Barhi dates are the best type to eat straight out of the bag. They’re the sweetest and softest of the dates, but can be hard to find as they don’t ship well.
How do you like to eat this sweet, dried fruit? Filled with goat cheese, or maybe sliced in a salad? Is it a fixture of your vegan cooking and baking? We’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments below. And be sure to check out these other recipes to use up any leftover dates:
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Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on May 13, 2015. Last updated: January 22, 2020 at 12:54 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.