Nothing completes a cake or a cupcake better than butter cream frosting. Among butter cream flavors, vanilla butter cream will probably always be my first choice. However, there are days where chocolate is the only thing on my mind and thus a chocolate butter cream enters the spotlight!
When I first started baking I used prepackaged cake mixes and frosting. They were simple, easy and fairly cheap. To be honest I was scared of making my own baked goods from scratch. As a child I remember watching my Grandmother make all kinds of desserts from scratch. The amount of ingredients, measuring and prep work that was involved looked very overwhelming to me. I recall my Grandmother telling me how everything had to measure exact and temperatures need to be just right in order for things to bake up properly. One false move on any part of the process could result in complete disaster. That all seemed like too much responsibility for me and so I stuck with the stuff that came already measured, and seemed fool proof.
After I started reading labels more closely, and making more healthier choices for me and my family, I was’t too surprised at the ingredients on the back of the cake mixes. They were generally ingredients you would use in a homemade cake recipe. However, I did notice they have somethings I didn’t want in my cake which were corn syrup, preservatives and artificial coloring. Also once I developed a more discerning tongue I did notice that prepackaged cake mixes have a lot more “risers” in their ingredients then a homemade cake recipe would have. I am assuming they do this to ensure the cake has lift and is fluffy. I for one appreciate the denser qualities of a homemade cake and it doesn’t seem as “metal” tasting as the prepackaged kinds.
The product I was taken aback by was the prepackaged frosting. I guess ignorance is not a bad thing in some cases and sometimes I wish I had never read the ingredients (or nutritional information) on the back of a prepackaged frosting. Literally prepackaged frosting in just sweetened oil, usually palm oil. And it is sweetened not just with sugar but with loads of corn syrup. Furthermore, the amount of preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial colors and flavors is off the charts on something that can so simple. I knew after reading the back of a prepackaged frosting I had to find a better frosting alternative for me and my family.
Making a healthy frosting is generally not an easy thing to do. Frosting, by nature, is meant to be special, decadent, and sinful. Once you make them healthy, they seem to loose the qualities that made them frosting’s in the first place. I however, was determined to find a way to create a recipe that would work and fulfill the requires of a traditional frosting. Since butter cream frosting is one of my favorite types of frosting’s I figured I would start my recipe makeover with butter cream.
Butter cream frosting traditionally includes butter, milk, powdered sugar and flavoring (vanilla extract for vanilla butter cream). Butter when it is used as the star ingredient is hard to replace. Having a butter replacement that has the same mouth feel as butter was extremely important. You can replace it with shortening but the consistency and taste is very waxy. Not to mention that shortening is really not much better then butter, in some cases it is worse for you.
After many, many, many tests and trials using different butter replacement ingredients, I came upon sweet potatoes. I have used sweet potatoes in many recipes and much like cauliflower it can used as the perfect base substitution. Now I know when thinking of frosting, sweet potatoes is not the first thing to pop into your mind and actually the idea of using it for a sweet baked good might sound off putting. But trust me, once you taste the sweet potato frosting you will be hooked and if you did a blind taste test you would not know the difference!
If you have a nut allergy, do not like the taste of nuts or do not want the added calories (though they are good calories) the nut butter can be omitted. If you want the frosting to be sugar free you can replace the dates for pure stevia extract. For a lighter frosting the coconut milk can be replaced with almond milk.
Out of This World Healthy Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
2/3 cups sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cups pitted and chopped dates (or 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons nut butter (any kind almond, peanut, cashew, etc. Can be omitted if you prefer)
1/2 cup coconut milk (or almond milk for a lighter frosting)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan or in the microwave (for about 30 seconds). Stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder. Blend together the dates and milk until smooth. Add the sweet potato, nut butter, and vanilla and blend once again until smooth. Stir in chocolate/coconut combo and mix until smooth.