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Kabocha Squash Cake with Chai Caramel

Kabocha Squash Cake with Chai Caramel is a healthier warmly-spiced dessert recipe. Made gluten-free and refined sugar-free, this cake is mostly naturally sweetened using kabocha squash!
Gluten-Free Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel - naturally sweetened and healthy! | #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!

Kabocha Squash:

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 all about the butternut squash, until I met the kabocha squash, which is a whole other 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

Recipe Highlights:

The following is true about this cake:

  • It’s the fourth gluten-free cake I’ve ever made. Ever.
  • This marks the first time I’ve ever made Chai Caramel
  • It’s the best use of kabocha squash ever.
  • This yummy healthy cake 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.

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! | #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 flour.
  • Added the chai caramel topping, because whoa 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 will do ya good.

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

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

Whip it up during the fall and winter months for day to day enjoyment, for special occasions, or for holiday gatherings.

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

Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel

Kabocha Squash Cake made gluten-free and refined sugar-free
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
1 (8-inch) cake


Kabocha Squash Spice Cake:

  • 1 cup mashed kabocha squash
  • 12 large medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2/3 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar, or more for a sweeter cake
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Chai Caramel


  • Bake the kabocha squash and mash it
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil or butter an 8-inch round cake pan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt (dry ingredients).
  • Pour the pureed kabocha mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture and stir together until combined. The batter will be thick.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Place on the center rack of the oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the center tests clean.
  • Allow cake to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Make the Chai Caramel:

  • 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).
  • 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.


Serving: 1Slice (of 8)Calories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 4gFat: 16gFiber: 4gSugar: 36g
Course: Cakes & Cupcakes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cakes for winter, dairy free cake, desserts with squash, fall cakes, gluten-free cake, healthy cake recipe, kabocha squash cake, low sugar cake, winter squash recipe
Servings: 1 (8-inch) cake
Calories: 382kcal
Author: Julia

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Recipe Rating

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Saturday 14th of January 2023

Do you think I could make this would no sugar? Or would that change the texture of the cake?


Tuesday 17th of January 2023

Hi Lynn! I haven't tested the recipe myself without sugar but I do believe the texture would change slightly. You could always add a little additional flour (perhaps 2-4 tablespoons) to be sure the cake is still nice and fluffy. Let me know what you try!


Friday 14th of October 2022

Hi there! I am SO excited to try this out. Do you know if this would work with oat milk or other milk substitutes? (I'm not concerned about the egg or butter)

Thank you!!


Friday 14th of October 2022

Hi Emily! You can use oat milk, coconut milk, or any of your favorite non-dairy milks. If the batter looks too thin, add a few tablespoons of more flour but it should work out just great! I hope you enjoy! xoxo :)


Tuesday 20th of November 2018

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?


Wednesday 21st of November 2018

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


Wednesday 22nd of November 2017

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.


Thursday 23rd of November 2017

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


Sunday 11th of December 2016

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!


Sunday 11th of December 2016

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

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