Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel

^ Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Gluten-Free Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel - naturally sweetened and healthy! | TheRoastedRoot.net #cake #dessert #healthy #fall #recipe

Also known as that time I made and ate a whole cake and lived to tell the tale.

Okay, okay. You caught me, I didn’t eat the entire thing in one sitting…but I did eat half.

Something you may or may not know about me is I have little to no self-control when it comes to anything fluffy, sweet, cinnamon-y, crunchy, and/or gooey. So basically, I have zero self-control. In life.

In my defense, this cake was and is a manifestation of of all the fall-esque things that make me feel as though I’m wearing an adult onesie made out of fleece and kitty cat sneezes. Who can resist the food form of a snuggie for your tongue buds? No one!

Have you made the acquaintance of the kabocha squash? It’s my favorite of all the squashes. By a long shot, even! It’s so thick and sweet, it’s like you’re chewing on nature’s carb candy. I used to be aaaaaall about the butternut squash, until I met the kabocha squash, which is a whoooooole ‘nother ball of squash wax. And now I see butternut squash as child’s play. Still amazing, but it’s got nothing on the kabocha. Just a little personal preference for the record.

Roasted Kabocha Squash

The following is true about this cake:

  • It’s the fourth gluten-free cake I’ve ever made. Ever.
  • It’s the first time I’ve ever made Chai Caramel
  • It’s the best use of kabocha squash ever.
  • It was inspired by the cookbook, Baking with Less Sugar

^ About that…

I got my hot little hands on the cookbook, Baking with Less Sugar by Joane Chang and not only fell in love with the gorgeous photos but was super impressed by the huge range of tasty bakeables using – you guessed it – less sugar. Chang owns Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston, and is also the author of Flour, and Flour, Too, so it goes without saying, she knows her sugar. Chang’s focus for this book was to shed light on the science behind sugar – did you know sugar helps trap and hold moisture, stabilizes eggs, and whips air into solid fats during the creaming process, yielding a softer baked good? <- This was all news to me! Her book is a training manual for showing us how to train our taste buds to enjoy sweets that contain little or no refined sugar.

Baking with Less Sugar, by Joanne Chang

The book has 60 recipes that incorporate either a small amount of cane sugar (which can be replaced with coconut sugar), honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, or fresh or dried fruit. While most of the recipes in the book call for all-purpose flour, it is easy to substitute the regular flour for your favorite gluten-free blend. So basically, the book is super pimp for a sweet toother like me, who tries to keep the sweets less…sweet.

Gluten-Free Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel - naturally sweetened and healthy! | TheRoastedRoot.net #cake #dessert #healthy #fall #recipe

^I know. Face. Plant.

All that said, I had a difficult time choosing which recipe to bake first. I settled on the Kabocha Squash Spice Cake, because it sounded like a blanket of fall comfort for my face. I made a few adjustments and was super psyched with the result.

The following are the changes I made from the original recipe:

  • Used whole milk plain yogurt instead of whole milk.
  • Substituted canola oil for coconut oil
  • Added coconut sugar. I know…the point was to keep it low in sugar, but I was feeling a little extra sweetness. The cake still doesn’t turn out mega sweet, so feel free to add more coconut sugar to taste.
  • Used gluten-free flour instead of regular all-purpose.
  • Added the chai caramel topping, because whoooooa momma, it’s good!

I’d be willing to bet if you’re like me and you enjoy sweet thangs on the daily but try to keep them on the lower glycemic end of things, this book’ll do ya good.

Gluten-Free Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel - naturally sweetened and healthy! | TheRoastedRoot.net #cake #dessert #healthy #fall #recipe

Moist, dense yet fluffy, sweet but not too sweet…this cake is what dreams are made of.


Gluten-Free Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel - naturally sweetened and healthy! | TheRoastedRoot.net #cake #dessert #healthy #fall #recipe

Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 1 8-inch cake
Author: Julia


Kabocha Squash Spice Cake:

Chai Caramel


  1. Bake the kabocha squash and mash it
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil or butter an 8-inch round cake pan.
  3. Place the dates in a bowl along with the baking soda and fill with boiling water. Allow dates to sit 10 to 15 minutes to allow them to soften. Strain the water and place dates in a high powered blender.
  4. Add the mashed kabocha squash, coconut oil, plain yogurt, and grated ginger to the blender. Blend until completely smooth. Add the two eggs and blend just until combined.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt (dry ingredients).
  6. Pour the pureed kabocha mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture and stir together until combined. The batter will be thick.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  8. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the center tests clean.
  9. Allow cake to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Make the Chai Caramel:

  1. Heat the coconut milk, coconut sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and sea salt in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat slightly and allow mixture to continue to cook at a gentle boil, whisking constantly, until dark brown and thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Allow the caramel to cool (Note: the caramel will thicken even more as it cools).
  2. Turn the cake out onto a cutting board or cake platter. Pour the chai caramel on the center of the cake and use a rubber spatula to smooth it over the full surface of the cake. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios (or walnuts or pecans) and serve.

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  1. Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health

    This cake is like, whoa. I’m still in awe.

    And that book sounds so interesting! I feel like I’ve trained my tastebuds to like less sugar but I always wonder how that will translate to others who try my recipes. Hopefully well, haha! I need to get my hands on a copy.

  2. Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

    This looks incredible! Kabocha is definitely one of the best squash (although I have a soft spot for delicata too). I’m a grocery store RD and I actually sampled out roasted kabocha yesterday – so many people ended up buying one that the store completely sold out of them haha. #spreadingthekabochalove

  3. Liora at Allthingsloveli

    This looks absolutely amazing! I love Kabocha squash… the only thing bad about it is that it has a very close resemblance to a buttercup squash which isn’t nearly as good. It’s always disappointing when I accidentally buy the wrong one

  4. Keri

    I just made this cake today and it definitely does not disappoint! I didn’t have coconut sugar so I had to use the regular stuff but I omitted the sugar from the cake itself and only kept it in the caramel. The flavour of the caramel is so warm and delicious. I didn’t quite let it thicken enough so mine is a bit runnier but still incredible. Thanks so much for posting!

    1. Julia Post author

      I’m so happy to hear it, Keri! I definitely love that cake – it’s so perfect for fall! The caramel definitely does take a while to reduce down – I’m glad you enjoyed it anyway! Thanks a bunch for the feedback, and i hope you have a great weekend!

  5. Eva

    100% YUM. I made this for thanksgiving and it was incredible!! I ate almost the entire cake by myself in two days. I used all the coconut sugar as per the recipe because I do have a sweet tooth and wanted to make sure I wasn’t tempted by all the other gluten filled desserts. At first I felt that the caramel was too salty, but by the second day the flavors melded together and it was perfect. Also, warming the cake up before chowing down made it a special treat. I love kabocha, but it is a bit of a hassle having to roast beforehand, so I want to try it again using canned pumpkin instead for a more convenient treat! Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  6. Ingrid

    Hi! This may be a silly question, but I’m confused about when the butter and vanilla are added to the Chai caramel. In step 10 it says “Heat the coconut milk, coconut sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and sea salt in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a full boil” and then I can’t find when I’m supposed to add the other two ingredients. Also, I’m hoping to use ‘vegan’ butter instead of butter but I’m wondering if that won’t caramelize the same way.
    Thanks in advance for clarifying!

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Ingrid! That’s a great question! My apologies – I overlooked the last two ingredients in the instructions, but just fixed the recipe – thanks so much for catching that! You stir in the butter and vanilla extract just after the caramel has finished cooking and you remove it from the stove top. Without having tested the recipe with vegan butter, I’m not exactly sure how the caramel will react, but I would think it will still work! Let me know how it turns out! xo

  7. HC

    This looks amazing! After looking through so many inspired desserts I have pinned, this one is the winner and I am making it tonight as a Thanksgiving dessert.

    Not too experienced baking- or cooking for that matter- so would love any tips on how to bake the squash. I realize it depends on the size of it, but all I can find is roasted kabocha recipes online.

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi there! I would cut off the tip and tail of the squash, then chop it in half and scoop out the insides. Coat the exposed flesh with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and put it on a baking sheet cut-side down. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes at 375, until the flesh is super tender. Hope this helps!! xo

  8. Lesli

    I’m so excited to make this cake as I too absolutely love Kabocha squash. I don’t have an 8″ round cake pan however. How would I need to adapt this recipe to make muffins?

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Lesli!

      I’ve never tested the recipe in a muffin pan, but I would venture to guess they would take about 25 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. I’d also either line the muffin tray with muffin cups or spray the holes with cooking oil to be sure they release easily after baking 😉 xo


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