Sugar-Free Desserts
Eat Well|Issue #29, 2020
We all know that too much sugar is a bad thing for your health but it is equally true that you have evolved to value the sensation of sweetness in your mouth. Reconciling what you know and what you want can be difficult so here are some dessert ideas that utilise healthier sweetener options: date cakes with tahini caramel; gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing; apple tea cake with chai icing; berry ripple cauliflower “nice cream”; apple cider vinegar gummy bears; vegan sticky date cacao pudding with banana nice cream; or a vegan mixed berry tart.

Date Cakes with Tahini Caramel

Recipe / Meg Thompson

A lovely, nutrient-rich dessert using the sweetness of dates to replace sugar. Plus, the whole family will love this dessert!

Makes: 6 mini-cakes

  • 250g soft dates, pitted
  • 100g butter at room temperature, cubed
  • 200g almond meal
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 20g coconut flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda


  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Yoghurt or cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease 6-hole muffin tin.

Soak dates in 200mL of boiling water for 10 mins. Drain and place liquid in food processor, setting dates aside.

Add butter and almond meal and blitz until smooth.

Add eggs, salt and spices, blitzing again to combine.

Combine the coconut flour and bicarb and add to mixture, blitzing again until combined.

Chop soaked dates and stir through mixture.

Divide mixture between holes of muffin tin and place in oven for 20–25 mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

To make sauce, combine all ingredients in small saucepan over low heat, whisking to combine.

When ready to serve, pour over sauce and add yoghurt or cream as desired.

Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Recipe / Meg Thompson

A strong hit of ginger, a delicious spongy centre and creamy icing make this cake a real treat. This cake uses a mixture of natural sweeteners in place of refined sugar, along with other nourishing ingredients that work together to balance the cake out. Feel free to tone down the ginger if you are not a hardcore fan.

Makes: 1 cake

  • 1 cup rolled oats or oatmeal
  • 1¼ cups spelt flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp brown-rice syrup
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence


  • ½ packet cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2–3 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp milk of choice Seeds from
  • ½ pomegranate (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C and line 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Place rolled oats in blender or food processor and blitz to a fine crumb.

Transfer to mixing bowl.

Add flour, bicarb, ginger, cloves and cinnamon, stirring with fork to combine.

Lightly whisk eggs in separate bowl. Add oil, maple syrup, molasses, brown-rice syrup, coconut milk, apple-cider vinegar and vanilla, and stir to combine.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined.

Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 40–45 mins, or until skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in tin.

Meanwhile, prepare icing by whisking all ingredients together, either by hand or electric beater.

Once cake is cool, cover with icing, and decorate with pomegranate seeds if using. Enjoy!

Apple Tea Cake with Chai Icing

Recipe / Lisa Guy

This healthy gluten-free cake is full of dietary fibre and nutritional goodness. Apples are an excellent source of fibre that can lower high cholesterol and help promote cardiovascular health. Apples are also rich in important phytonutrients and protective antioxidants. If you’re using organic apples keep the skins on for an extra boost in fibre. Apple peels are also an excellent source of quercetin, which is a nutrient that has impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Serves: 6–8

  • 2 cups blanched almond meal
  • 2 heaped tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raw honey or 100 per cent maple syrup
  • ¼ cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium apples, finely diced


  • 225g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 heaped tbsp raw honey
  • Heaped ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • Pinch ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line 15cm cake tin with baking paper.

Combine almond meal, baking powder and cinnamon together in large bowl.

In smaller bowl whisk honey, olive oil, vanilla and eggs together, then pour into dry ingredients and combine.

Fold in diced apple.

Pour mixture into cake tin and place in oven for around 50 mins, or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cover with foil if cake starts to look too brown.

Allow cake to cool completely before icing.

To make icing, blend all ingredients together until well combined. Add more ground cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to taste.

Spread icing over cake and then decorate with desired toppings such as roughly chopped nuts, spices, flaked coconut or flowers.


Coconut Chocolate Bars

Recipe / Meg Thompson

I have cut these bars into shapes using cookie cutters and used them as cake toppers and decoration. Either way, they are a delicious and highly sustaining dessert that are also great for a snack during the day.

Makes: 8-10

  • 2½ cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 120g coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (or other plant milk)
  • 100g sugar-free chocolate, for coating

Place all ingredients except chocolate in blender and blitz for a few mins, if necessary scraping down the sides a few times.

Transfer to shallow dish or tin, pressing down and flattening to desired thickness.

Cover and place in fridge to set. Melt chocolate and pour over bars. Return to fridge to set.

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