UPDATE: I’ve come up with a frosting-type icing that doesn’t need to use nuts and can be used to pipe and decorate cakes beautifully. Click here for it- below is an image of the updated icing recipe!
****older recipe below. For recipe pictured above, click the link or the picture****
Until now, I’ve been a bit stumped about this whole business of cake icing. I can’t do refined sugar, no dairy, and no soy. So basically, no butter, no shortening, and no icing sugar. That leaves, like… um. Pork lard?? (eugh. not in icing, thanks). I thought I found some vegan icing recipes, but they all used icing sugar (which isn’t vegan, btw!).
I tried a few times to soak cashews in water and blending, to create a cashew creme, but it wouldn’t hold together very well unless frozen.
Enter frustration about naked cakes.
I tinkered around a bit…. I tried adding coconut oil to the soaking cashews- of course forgetting that water and oil don’t mix. Crunching on chunks of solid grainy coconut fat was not um… not very delicious :S.
I saw a recipe that suggested also incorporating lemon juice. I figured, hey, acid, will blend the fat, right? Not so much. Actually, it was really gross. Who ARE these people that write glowing comments on blogs for disgusting flavour combinations? Citrus and Nuts don’t work together! They must be the same criminals who are also trying to convince me that grainy home made rice milk is the stuff dreams are made of- ugh. liiiiiieeeeeees. All lies. Another lesson learned.
I swear, being a food blog junkie is like riding through the wild west of uncharted territory- there are no rules. Take pretty pictures and tell people how delicious it is, and really, who’s going to shut you down? Exactly. Nobody.
If anything, my skill at imagining how things will taste has certainly improved. Now, more or less, I can look at the ingredient list of a recipe and either race enthusiastically to the kitchen or hold back the gag reflex. Good practice ;) Its been an expensive few lessons! lol
Alright, so, now back to the vegan/dairy free/ soy free/ sugar free icing. Its wonderfully thick- almost like a marzipan, so its not QUITE an icing. Although, keep it cold enough and I bet you can mold it into cool figures and stuff… kinda like fondant maybe? Wouldn’t that be neat?!
Anyway, if you melt this icing mixture, you can pour it over your dessert in a thinner consistency like a glaze, which is a nice option.
Note: If you really don’t want to grind your own cashews and let them soak, here’s a tip (but its pricy)- go to your natural food store (like Rainbow Foods), and buy a container of Raw Cashew Butter (NOT roasted). Heat it in the microwave, and add about 1/2 cup of honey or agave nectar to taste to it. Spread as you wish. yup. That simple.
Cashew Creme Icing
- 1 cup raw unroasted cashews
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
Optional : Try adding in seeds from 1 vanilla bean before heating coconut oil, or adding any of your favorite extracts (maple, vanilla, coconut, ohhh or even a tbsp of liqueur…) I was also thinking, maybe 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatine or agar agar powder to the oil/honey mix might make it more tolerant to not melting, and to not spreading?
- Grind the cashews as finely as possible. I find a coffee grinder or spice grinder does the best job of this- food processors leave larger chunks. If your ground cashews start sticking together a bit and creating a paste, so much the better. Its a good sign. You want this to be as smooth as possible.
- Heat the coconut oil and honey over the stove or in the microwave. You want them hot – I know its not good for the honey, heat changes its chemical composition, so, if you prefer, only heat the coconut oil and add the honey later.
- Pour the hot liquid into the cashews, and mix as thoroughly as possible (add the unheated honey at this point if you wish). Let sit overnight, on the counter not in the fridge. The cashews will absorb the liquid and become creamy. If you put it in the fridge, the oil will harden more quickly and the cashews will absorb less of the moisture and therefore retain more of a grainy consistency.
- Some neat flavour ideas: crank this up a bit by adding- cocoa powder, or almond extract, or vanilla bean seeds, your favorite liqueur (Frangelico! Galliano! Amaretto!…. ok,… I’ll stop with that lol).
- Before spreading or pouring the mixture on your dessert, make sure to heat the mixture to increase viscosity.
This recipe would go well with: