Healthy Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

Coconut Cakes are NOTORIOUS for being INSANELY bad for you.  I mean, I love Ina Garten and her show, Barefoot Contessa, but just look the main components of her recipe:

  • 3/4 of a pound of butter (that’s three sticks)…  oh, and more for greasing the cake pans
  • 2 cups of white sugar (that’s 32 tablespoons and 1,536 empty calories)
  • 4 ounces of sweetened shredded coconut (yes, more sugar…)
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (bleached, white and refined)

And that’s just for the cake.  Please, don’t get me started on the frosting!  Ina’s recipe is not nutritious in any sense of the word…  sure it might be tasty, but it is detrimental to the human body.

Healthy Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

This Healthy Coconut Cake is actually good for you.  It is made with whole grains, no refined sugar and no butter!


Yeah, no butter (sorry, Ina)!  But don’t worry, this cake has an amazing texture — it is soft and moist and tastes very similar to a decadent and sweet vanilla cake, but with a natural coconut flavor.  This is definitely one of the best gluten-free cakes I have made in my life (as claimed by my taste-testers)

Healthy Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

Healthy Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

Yield: two 8 inch cake rounds



    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray two 8 inch cake pans with cooking spray (I also lined the cake pans with parchment paper rounds).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, brown rice flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, add the applesauce, soy milk, egg whites, vanilla sugar, coconut extract, stevia extract and vanilla paste. Mix on medium speed for ~1 minute.
  4. Add the vinegar to the mixing stand mixer, then slowly add the dry ingredients.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then whisk the batter on medium speed for ~20 seconds.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until the surface of the cakes spring back when tapped.
  7. Let the cakes cool in the pans for ~15 minutes, then flip onto wire cooling racks to let cool completely.
  8. When the cakes are cooled, slice them both in half (you can keep the cake two layers if you like)
  9. For the Frosting:
  10. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the soy milk, butter extract, coconut extract and vanilla paste.
  11. Whisk in the soy protein powder, then whisk in the erythritol.
  12. Frost the cakes!


**For some reason everyone seemed to like the frosting but I wasn't a fan. You can use the recipe I provide and adjust it to taste if you like, or keep it the same, or maybe try another coconutty frosting you like :)

This recipe is: sugar free, low fat, high fiber, high protein and gluten free!

Because I explained how typical coconut cakes are known for being crazy unhealthy in the beginning of the post, I thought I would have a little nutrition label showdown to compare my cake recipe to Ina Garten’s cake recipe.  Ina Garten’s nutrition label is on the left,  the Desserts with Benefits nutrition label is on the right:

unhealthy coconut cake nutrition label  nutrition label for guilt free Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

I don’t know if you noticed this, but the nutrition label for Ina’s cake’s is for 1/16th of the recipe while mine is for 1/8th.  That means you can have TWICE as much of my cake and still consume less calories, fat and sugar than a tiny slice of Ina’s cake…  wow.

Seriously though, I don’t even know what to think of Ina’s nutrition label.  At first I was shocked, I couldn’t believe a tiny slice of cake could conceal 5 tablespoons of sugar and nearly 3 tbs of butter somewhere inside of it.  It looks so pretty on the outside, but when you take the time to analyze the ingredients, it’s just plain old sad  :(

After my initial state of shock, I started laughing.  The number of calories Ina stuffed into that cake is simply comical.  After a few seconds of laughter, I got offended.  I know for sure that I am taking this wayyy too personally, but in my opinion, I think it is rude to hand someone a slice of cake full of ingredients that are processed beyond belief.  In my college career I have learned a great deal about the destructive effects of refined ingredients (particularly sugar) within the human body.  If I were to hand someone a slice of Ina’s cake, I would feel like I am, essentially, slapping them in the face saying, “Here, enjoy this cake along with some health repercussions!”

Ugh.  I know I am taking it a little far, but it is only because of my personal experience with sugar.  Throughout my entire childhood I ate sugary, nutrient-deprived food like chocolate bars, cakes, cookies and brownies.  And I have suffered the consequences of my poor food choices.  Just as an example, in high school, my LDL cholesterol level was in the “very high risk” range and because of the lifestyle changes I have implemented my total cholesterol levels today are lower than my LDL level alone just a few years ago.  So please, pardon my nagging and emotional feelings!  Gahh.  Rant over.

Healthy Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

So enjoy this cake — it is sweet, moist, flavorful and best of all, healthy.

Labels: Applesauce, Brown-Rice-Flour, Cakes-and-Cupcakes, Coconut-Flakes, Egg-Whites, Erythritol, Gluten-Free, High-Fiber, High-Protein, Icings-Frostings-and-Spreads, Low-Fat, Nutrition-Label, Sorghum-Flour, Soy-Protein, Sugar-Free

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Comments (12)

  1. Pipsa: December 13, 2013

    I agree that those nutritional facts on the original recipe are purely insane! 770 empty calories for a tiny slice of cake? Pure madness! Not to mention the horrible amounts of so unhealthy ingredients, of course.

    Yours looks divine, though! I would definitely love a slice right now and here. It really amazes me that you couldn’t just conquer the world with your healthy treats and teach everybody how to bake the healthy way :)

  2. dessertswithbenefits: December 13, 2013

    Awww thanks Pipsa! It’s the comments like these that keep me going :)

  3. zosia: December 14, 2013

    I have two questions.

    I don’t buy the bad-for-you (PROCESSED) egg white cartons…sooo I am wondering if this would work with whole eggs? If so…how many?

    Also – can arrowroot or tapioca starch be substituted for the corn starch?

    Thank you!

  4. dessertswithbenefits: December 14, 2013

    The egg whites used in this recipe are from whole eggs, not the cartoned stuff. That’s why I put the term “fresh” next to the egg whites… the cartoned stuff doesn’t work the same as fresh egg whites.
    And other starches should work in place of the corn starch just fine :)
    Hope you like the cake!!

  5. Kat: December 15, 2013

    I am very allergic to soy. What would you recommend I can use as a substitute for the soy protein powder in this recipe? Thank you.

  6. dessertswithbenefits: December 15, 2013

    Soy protein powder tends to absorb a lot of liquid, similar to coconut flour, so there aren’t many good replacements… however, I find that brown rice protein powder is pretty similar to soy protein. You can try swapping vanilla brown rice protein powder, or trying this frosting recipe with coconut extract added :)

  7. Mary: December 15, 2013

    I’m enjoying your website soo much! I love how creative your are and sneak all sorts of good stuff into decadent desserts. I tried many of your recipes and they were delicious!
    Thank you for sharing :)

  8. dessertswithbenefits: December 15, 2013

    Awww thank you so much Mary! So glad you like my recipes :)

  9. Irina nsanity: December 16, 2013

    Hi Jessica! The cake seems amazingly delicious! But unfortunately i can’t find here sorghum flour. Could you please advise me another delicious cake recipe for a new year table without it?

  10. dessertswithbenefits: December 16, 2013

    Hmmm, sorghum flour is a pretty unique ingredient so I’m not sure of many good replacements. I think using all brown rice flour in this recipe might work though. The flours I wouldn’t recommend are oat flour and coconut flour.
    I would recommend giving the cake a test run before New Years just to make sure it works. Brown rice flour might impose a taste on the cake so you might feel the need to adjust the vanilla sugar, stevia, coconut extract, etc. Good luck, hope you like the recipe!!

  11. Kim: December 16, 2013

    What can be used instead of soy protein powder? I avoid all soy products.

  12. dessertswithbenefits: December 17, 2013

    Soy protein powder tends to absorb a lot of liquid, similar to coconut flour, so there aren’t many good replacements… however, I find that brown rice protein powder is pretty similar to soy protein. You can try swapping vanilla brown rice protein powder, or trying this frosting recipe with coconut extract added :)

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