Vegan Chai ‘Buttercream’ Icing

May 24, 2012
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When I decided to make Macha Green Tea Cupcakes for this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop I was at a loss on what to frost them with. The cupcakes themselves are pretty healthy – enough so to be perfectly acceptable for breakfast – and I didn’t want to ruin a good thing with mounds of sugar and butter. Who am I kidding, I’ll eat any cake for breakfast but these are just that little bit more justifiable…

I considered chocolate for a while as a topping but thought it may overwhelm the delicate macha flavour, plus I wanted to do something that could be flavoured with Chai Spices for a double-tea-inspired dessert. The resulting icing although called ‘buttercream’ contains no butter… nor does it contain cream. It also doesn’t contain sugar or weird shortening or soy either. So what’s left I hear you ask…

12-05-16_ChaiVegButtercream 12-05-16_ChaiVegButtercream

Well it’s simple. Hazelnuts, Banana and Coconut Oil – and some Chai Spices of course. If you think it sounds like my Nut-tella-type Choc-Hazelnut Spread without the cocoa powder you would be correct. I have some ideas about other options so I recon this will be re-visited at some point but for now, and for these cupcakes, this worked perfectly.

12-05-16_ChaiVegButtercream 12-05-16_ChaiVegButtercream

I must admit I did initially try to steep Chai Tea in the coconut oil. While it did perfume the oil I didn’t consider the result worth the effort in this instance and I subsequently added a homemade Chai Spice mix to intensify the flavour. The recipe below just uses added spices but you can certainly try the tea and oil method if you are so inclined!

Pop over to check out the Macha Green Tea Cupcakes and all the fabulous Sweet Adventures Blog Hop ‘What’s your cup of Tea’ creations that have been linked up. Don’t forget about the prize pack giveaway compliments of Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea – just join us for SABH to be in the draw!


Vegan Chai ‘Buttercream’ Icing


  • 1 cup – approx 125 g – hazelnuts, roasted
  • 1/2 c mashed banana
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp spices – from a mix of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and a pinch of black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice*
  • pinch sea salt


Toast hazelnuts in a pan over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes – shaking regularly until toasted and fragrant. Wrap in a tea towel to cool then rub to remove skins.

Place hazelnuts in a food processor and blend into a fine meal. Add coconut oil and process again. Add banana, spices and lemon juice and process until smooth and creamy.

Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes, serve immediately. Makes enough for 6 cupcakes.


  • A bit of lemon juice will help the banana to stay light instead of darkening – ever leave a mashed banana out on the counter for a while, yeah, it’s like that – but it is still best to eat these shortly after icing.
  • Any extra Icing can be stored covered in the fridge and used as a spread for toast. Mix in a bit of cocoa powder and you have Chai spiced Nut-tella-type Choc-Hazelnut Spread – it’s like magic. It is only logical that the chocolate version can be used as Icing just as easily as the plain Chai one. Go wild.




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10 Responses to Vegan Chai ‘Buttercream’ Icing

  1. Rachel on May 24, 2012 at 5:45 am

    this is genius! I’d eat this frosting all by itself and I am not a frosting kinda girl! I seriously avoid baking cupcakes because I don’t know what to frost them with – no more!

    • JJ on May 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      I may have eaten a spoonful of this tonight ;) Let me know if you make it!

  2. K-bobo @ Gormandize with A-dizzle & K-bobo on May 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Looks wonderful – I will have to try this! Great idea, I’m also often reluctant to make cupcakes because of all the nuttelex I usually put in my icings!

    • JJ on May 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Hope you try it!

  3. Nic@diningwithastud on May 24, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Oh Im in heaven! You could totally freeze the buttercream and have it as an ice-lolly :)

  4. Georgia on May 26, 2012 at 10:59 am

    This looks like a great recipe!
    Coconut oil is such a great ingredient for vegan baking. Love it.
    I haven’t tried using banana in icing before though, but that’s a fantastic idea. Can’t wait to try this out :)

  5. Kirsty on May 28, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I’ve never been much of an icing fanatic. Little too sweet for me but I absolutely love this idea and will be trying it on my next cake for size. Thanks for sharing (and making us wait a couple of days)!

  6. Anna @The Littlest Anchovy on May 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    This is such a great idea JJ! Though I am not a vegan, I just love the vegan recipes you come up with!

  7. ATasteOfMadness on May 29, 2012 at 7:35 am

    This sounds absolutely delicious! I made my first batch of cupcakes today, and they turned out pretty good. Except my icing wasn`t all that great. I saw this only JUST too late. Oh well, next time ;)

    • JJ on June 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      I hope you try it!

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