A five layered cold, colorful cotton candy cake! Made with gluten-free cake and vegan frozen desserts, this is a show-stopping (but simple!) summer dessert.
There are not many sugary things I have met and not instantly hit it off with. Naturally sweet or not-so-naturally sweet–I’m usually a fan. But there is one exception that comes to mind: cotton candy.
Do you know where the inspiration came for inventing cotton candy? Me either. But I’m guessing it was those little balls of fur and dust and fuzzy stuff that inhabit the 2 inches of darkness between the couch and the floor. Dust balls. Dust bunnies. Call them what you wish, every house is home to at least a few. Those of us with pets have double the population usually. But it’s those little buggers that ruined cotton candy for me. They are all I can think about when I put that stringy sweet stuff in my mouth. Nope, no thank you. I’ll take my sugar in a more normal texture please.
Aren’t you glad I painted that lovely picture of dust bunny mouthfeel in your head? And on that note, I want to assure you that there is no actual cotton candy in this cake. However, with these two vibrant colors there was no more perfect name for this 5 layer frozen frosted cake feast. So for color and fun factor, it will still be called a Cotton Candy Ice Cream Cake.
Raise a Pint Recipe Contest
When Alisa from Go Dairy Free asked me if I wanted to be a part of the #RaiseAPint recipe contest hosted by So Delicious, of course I said yes in about negative 2 seconds! Come up with a crazy over-the-top dessert recipe using my favorite ice cream? Heck yeah!
I knew I wanted to use So Delicious Creamy Cashew Cashewmilk Ice Cream because its my favorite vegan ice cream. I’m also a big fan of Cocowhip because it tastes just like cool whip only vegan. And cool whip and I go way back.
So then all that was left to figure out was the over-the-top part…
One thing Instagram has taught me is when you want to make things pop and shine, color is the way to go. Lots of color. And layers. And ice cream now that I think about it. People seem to be drawn to cold, creamy, complex, and colorful.
Pitaya is one of the brightest fruits, so I knew that pretty pink puree had to be involved. And what better to pair it with than the rare but beautiful blue! This cotton candy cake is what sparked my entire exploration into the world of natural blue food colorings, so if you haven’t seen my post about how to make natural blue food coloring, you can check it out -> here.
Cotton Candy Cake
The cake. I adapted my favorite Everything-Free Vanilla Cupcake batter to make this 6 inch vanilla cake, with just a few ingredient tweaks for optimal texture. To bake it as a cake instead of cupcakes, you will need to bake it slightly longer at a lower temp to make sure it cooks evenly. You can use your favorite vanilla cake recipe instead, as long as you have 2 layers of 6 inch vanilla cake.
The creamy layers. I had intended for this cotton candy cake to be 6 layers, but I ran out of pan height, so I just had to go with the cake stacking flow and stop after 5. If you are wondering why there are two Cocowhip layers and only one ice cream layer that’s the reason. The blue layer could be made out of ice cream or Cocowhip. You could use homemade ice cream or nicecream and coconut whipped cream for the whole thing as well.
The process. Assembly of this cake is quite simple. All you are doing is adding coloring to your ice cream/Cocowhip, layering, and freezing in between. I suggest letting each layer freeze for about 1 hour before adding the next so you can easily spread the new layer without them mixing too much. After it’s is completely layered, freeze overnight. Then take your cotton candy cake out of the freezer 10-15 mins before slicing and eating!
More About the #RaiseAPint Contest
This recipe is my entry into this summer’s Go Dairy Free Recipe Contest, sponsored by So Delicious Dairy Free. I have a chance to win cash prizes, but I am not being compensated for my time. I only use and recommend products that I truly love, and all opinions are my own.
Twenty one talented bloggers, authors and recipe creators will be creating amazing recipes in this summer’s #RaiseAPint recipe contest using So Delicious Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts or Cashew Milk Frozen Desserts. All recipes will be shared between July 10th and July 24th, and then you will be able to vote on your favorites! I will let you know on social media when voting begins, and I would greatly appreciate your votes!
Update: Voting is open!! VOTE NOW
Along with the contest, you can join in the #RaiseAPint Event, which will run from July 11th to August 5th. During this time, So Delicious will award 20 entries with an ice cream party prize pack. You can share your #RaiseAPint moments on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! Full details here.
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Vegan Cotton Candy Ice Cream Cake
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- 12 pitted Medjool dates
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp tapioca flour*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tsps natural blue food coloring
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tsps pitaya puree**
Pink Ice Cream Layer
- 1 1/2 cup So Delicious Creamy Cashew Cashewmilk Ice Cream
- 3–4 tbsps pitaya puree
- 2 cups Cocowhip OR 1 1/2 cup Cashewmilk Ice Cream
- 1 tbsp natural blue food coloring
Pink Cocowhip Layer
- 2 cups Cocowhip
- 2 tbsps pitaya puree
- Cake: Blend the water and dates until smooth.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Lightly oil then fill a 6 inch round cake pan 2/3 of the way with batter.
- Bake at 325F for approximately 30-35 mins or until the center bounces back when touched.
- Let it cool COMPLETELY before slicing off the rounded top and slicing it into 2 layers.
- Sprinkles: Mix each color separately until the coconut is well colored and coated. Spread in a thin layer on a plate. Leave out overnight to dry.
- To assemble: Use a 6 inch round springform pan so you can easily remove the cake after it is frozen.
- Place the bottom layer of cake in the pan.
- Mix the pink ice cream layer. Spread on top of the bottom cake layer. Freeze for 1 hour.
- Mix the blue layer. Spread on top of the pink. Freeze for 1 hour.
- Place the second layer of cake on top of the blue. You can use a thin layer of ice cream to help it stick.
- Mix the pink Cocowhip layer. Spread on top of the cake.
- Finish with a few dollops of pitaya puree swirled into the pink and a showering of sprinkles.
- Freeze overnight.
- Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating.
- Keep in the freezer for up to a week.
*Optional but makes for a better texture
**I took one Pitaya Plus pack, let it thaw to a liquid, and then used that for the sprinkles and both pink layers.
I just showed this to my boyfriend. Expect a scream in 3… 2… 1!
I thought I heard something! Hahaha 😉
Leah M | love me, feed me says
THIS IS THE PRETTIEST CAKE EVER!! Sorry just had to scream that to really show my love. This is so unique and seriously so beautiful, Natalie! Aaaand it’s ice cream so I am even more won over by it in all its glory. I think I shed a tear when I saw that picture with the fork. Can’t even deal.
Hehe well it’s ice cream so we are supposed to scream about it, right!? 🙂 Thanks Leah!
Jess | Urban Alchemy says
Ommggggg obsessed with this!!
Thanks Jess 🙂
Wow Natalie the cake layers are so beautiful. Also I love the ingredients as usual :). Your blue theme week fits perfect to my antioxidant rich week.
Thank you Annelina 🙂 I love natural plant colors because brighter color = more antioxidants–it’s a win win!
The Vegan 8 says
Natalie, this is just spectacular!! Seriously, beautiful, bright, sugary-looking, festive, gorgeous….shall I go on?! haha! I’m in love with it. I used to LOVE cotton candy when I was a kid but don’t dare touch the stuff now. I cannot ever excuse myself to sit and just eat a bucket of sugar now, but THIS, this I could eat and be very happy. It’s definitely creative and over the top and sorry to all the other entries, buttt….”Sorry, but Natalie WON!” Hahahaha! It’s amazing girlfriend!!
Off to watch your video now…
Hahaha you are so sweet!! <3 I think I could host a unicorn party or something with this one. Although bright colorful over-the-top cake for no reason is fun too, it disappeared pretty fast around here. It's funny, I'm so used to nice cream and homemade coconut frostings that even this tasted SO sweet in comparison. I love how flexible tastebuds are! Thanks Brandi 🙂
The Vegan 8 says
I showed it to Olivia and she was like “wowwwwww!!!” She loves it too, no surprise, it’s the best pink ever!!
Oh and yes, So Delicious ice cream is even very sweet to me too! Especially the Snickerdoodle one, it is delicious but very, very sugary. I can’t wait to hear that YOU are the winner of the contest, haha!
Melissa @ Vegan Huggs says
This cake is gorgeous! The colors are so vibrant and beautiful! Love all the natural ingredients, too 🙂 Nice work, Natalie!
Thank you Melissa! I have trouble remembering it’s all natural colors when I look at it, it almost feels too bright for my blog sometimes lol 😀 But it’s fun to go over the top sometimes!
Heather McClees says
Natalie!!!! This looks insanely good! You are so talented! I might just make this for my birthday at the end of this year. It’s awesome!!! 🙂
That would be perfect! I would make it for you and send it as a gift, but I think the whole ice cream part could be an issue lol 😀
audrey @ unconventional baker says
Ooooh, that blue is so pretty! LOVE. And lol on the dust bunnies — I have a fair share of those with my two seasonally shedding furry pups… as you know ?
I never liked eating cotton candy, but I did always love the colors. Here’s a one-up on your dust bunny association. The French name for it is “barbe a papa” (which is pronounced barb-a-pa-pa… quite musical ?) and literally translates into “grandpa’s beard” ?
Is it just me, or does it sometimes feel like dog shedding season is all the seasons? I’m sure it’s not, but sometimes I do feel I am endlessly collecting little fur balls floating around the floors lol. Hahahahaha that is an even better comparison!!! Plus it has a fancy name, much more sophisticated than dust bunny 😀
OMG!!!! Holy smokes, you HAVE to win! And if you don’t I’ll be REALLY shocked. This. Is. GORGEOUS!!!!! It’s like a work of art and those colors are absolutely stunning. You nailed the cotton candy colors for sure. Haha! I’ll never look at cotton candy the same way after reading your post 😉 I loved watching how the swirly top came together in the video and that slice??! Perfection. Absolute perfection. I’m talking so perfect that I can’t stop staring. Just, WOW!! You’ve really outdone yourself here, Natalie! So amazing!!! xoxo
Well if ease of making is one of the things they judge on than that could be a problem since it takes about 2 days and like 12 steps to make lol. But I appreciate your confidence <3 Thank you Mandy! Hahaha yeah sorry about planting that thought in your head, but I'm sure you weren't planning on chowing down on cotton candy any time soon anyways 😉 I tried 3 different designs for the top with slices of pitaya and I just couldn't get them arranged right, so pink swirls it is! Not exactly as fruity as I'm used to but still totally delicious. Happy Sunday Mandy! xx
It’s so pretty!! I love the vibrant colors. I wish we had so delicious ice cream here, because I’ve only heard the best about it 🙂 I really hope you do win! I’ll vote for you as many times as possible 😀
Aww you are the sweetest, thanks girl <3 Yes these ice creams are pretty awesome for texture, the cashew milk is by far my favorite, but nicecream is still my first choice. And luckily it's universally available. Well maybe I should say globally...I'm not sure other planets have bananas lol 😀
Laurina Roo @sweetenedbyplants says
O.M.G!!! This is sensational!! I’ve been seeing your lovely blue creations on Instagram but this is whole new level girl! This is definitely the next special birthday cake on my to do list! It just looks stunning! What a show stopper.
And that picture with the little bit on the spoon… omg I want!
Thank you Laurina, you are so sweet <3 It was really fun getting color crazy on this one! I know, I needed a birthday or a party or something to celebrate with this cake. Although cake on a random Thursday tastes just as good. Mmm the spoon shot is my favorite! It takes it from elegant to gimme gimme all that ice cream deliciousness haha 😀
OMG, girl!! You have outdone yourself this time! It is GORGEOUS!! The competition was stiff before, but my goodness, now this! Well done, my friend!!
Thank you Jenn! It seems a lot of us when the ice cream cake direction 😀
rachel @ athletic avocado says
Oh my gosh this cake is STUNNING! I can’t take my eyes off of it and can’t stop drooling haha. I want this for my next birthday cake!!!
Thank you Rachel! Well I hope the theme of your party is unicorns and fairies, because in that case the cake will fit perfectly 😀
Demeter | Beaming Baker says
Oh. WOW. The second I saw that pink, I just knew all of my wildest childhood fair/food/dessert fantasies would come true. Natalie, you are seriously on a roll! Speaking of which, are you gonna turn this into an ice cream roll too? I could see this cotton candy ice cream delicious turned into a million different forms and still be astounded. Imagine me making a funny face, signaling to Siri that it’s time we put our clever brains together to find an emoji awesome enough to match this pinky majesty. … Nope! Nothing can match it. So many colors, so many layers, and OBVS, you always kill it on instagram. I already want to congratulate you on winning the contest because, I have eyes and this is EVERYTHING. So when you win and become the Head Honcho of Fantasy Desserts, remember me, would ya? 😉 xoxo
I know, where was this cake when I was 5?? I mean thanks mom for making me that Elmo cake I asked for, but I didn’t even know this was an option! Don’t hold your breath for the ice cream roll though. Cake rolls are one dessert that I fail on every single time I try it actually. Cake just doesn’t roll for me. It cracks and crumbles and ice cream leaks out…not that I’m complaining about that mess, I’m just saying if you know how to ice cream roll than teach me please!! I appreciate your faith in me and my cake <3 I think if the panel of judges were comprised of very industrious unicorns than it would be a more sure thing. And considering you just posted a recipe with the word MAGIC built right into the name itself, I think we will have to be Co-Honchos (whatever that heck that word means anyways lol) of all things magically sweet. Now how about you pass some magic shell over this way so I can douse my slice of cake in it please!! 🙂 xx
Demeter | Beaming Baker says
Right?? But I so don’t care anyways, I could 5 or 500 and LOVE this cake. 😉 Here’s hoping you and I make it to 500 so we can make this and also shirk the laws of time. LOLOL. Cake rolls: NO WAY!! I simply do not believe that you cannot pull it off. I need hard evidence of this. Co-Honchos: YES. So much of the Yes’s I can’t stand it. 😉 Your cake plus my magic shell: I think the universe would explode with awesomeness, fairy dust and neon slap bracelets. It just could NOT handle it. Hahaha. xoxo
Becky Striepe says
Oh my gosh, this cake looks positively epic!
Thanks Becky 🙂
Tiina @myberryforest says
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!! My DREAM cake!! And apparently my kids dream cake, too. They watched the video with me, and both of them screamed WOOOOOOW when you made the blue color 🙂 Hahah and my girl said: Mom you could never make a cake like this…Challenge accepted…. 😉 But seriously this is so stunning and beautiful!! And to think it’s only colored with natural colors (HOW AMAZING ARE PLANTS!!!!!)!! I see a WINNER here so they might as well close the competition now 🙂 You are so creative my friend! <3 <3
I just busted out laughing at what you daughter said hahaha ?? You are the queen of super colorful, especially when pink is involved, so actually you would probably do a better job than me to be honest! Your yogurt and my cake are almost pink twinkles, which makes me think pitaya and beets must be related some how some way because they make for almost the identical shade of pink. Awww you are so very kind, thank you for the confidence in my cake! I wish I could’ve shared a slice with all 3 of you <333
Kaila @ Healthy Helper says
HOLY CANNOLI!!! Or should I say HOLY COTTON CANDY!!!! THIS IS GORGEOUS! Also, you’re pretty much the most creative person I know. I need to have this ice cream cake in my life. I just think there’s no way I’d be able to make it as pretty as yours! Can you come make it for me?! 😉
I know you could rock the cotton candy layering look, but it would be more fun to just come and make it at your house! We might as well just make a party of it, don’t you think? 🙂 And now that you mention it, an ice cream cannoli would’ve been pretty awesome too!
Michele @ TwoRaspberries says
HOLY GORGEOUS!!! 😉 this looks like the yummiest and prettiest cake on the inter-webs right now! and Cocowhip… I have never used that before!? I’m assuming it’s something that you could get at like a Whole Foods or something…? anyways this is totally knocking it outa the park YUM YUM YUM!
Awww thank you Michele <33 All of the recipes in this contest are spectacular, there are some chocolatey cakes and things that I would go crazy for. Yep Whole Foods definitely has Cocowhip! It's right next to the ice creams usually. My normal grocery store even has it sometimes. It tastes almost exactly like cool whip but just made with coconut oil and some gums...not the healthiest, but a fun treat 🙂
Louann Kristy says
You have just made me the happiest women in the world !
I love cotton candy and now this… holy moly.
It looks so delicious! I can’t wait to try it out. 🙂
Hi Louann!! I have a big smile on my face right now too from your sweet comment <3 I totally appreciate your excitement, I was pretty jazzed with the way it came out too 🙂 Enjoy!
Jeeeeeeez Natalie, this is seriously like a dream cake…! The colors are truly awesome, and the cake is just stunning and almost too pretty to eat, can’t stop looking at it!!! It’s so mesmerizing!!! Can’t wait for you to win! 🙂 xxx
I must say I had a hard time cutting into it, I just wanted to stare at it some more. But ice cream is made to be eaten 🙂 I appreciate your confidence in me and my cake Anna <3
I can’t get over how pretty this cake is! And not only is it a cake, there is ice cream in there too!! Best of two (dessert) worlds! You really are a genius Natalie 😀
It’s really more like ice cream with a touch of cake, but it’s hot so I’m cool with that 😀 It’s funny how if it is shaped like cake we call it cake lol. Thank you Nadia <3
Aimee | Wallflower Kitchen says
I cannot get over this , Natalie. WOW. Sooooo pretty! And it sounds super delicious. The cake batter is genius, I have to try it 🙂
Thank you Aimee <3 Oh yes I love my date-based cakes! It actually works better as a cupcake because as a cake I had to decrease the amount of liquid a bit to get it to cook through which means it dries out faster, but in cupcake form the dates make for a wonderfully moist cake!
Harriet Emily says
Wow, this is soooo beautiful Natalie! Such amazing colours! It’s stunning! I can’t wait to try your recipe 🙂 pinned!
Thank you Harriet, and thank you for pinning! It seriously disappeared so fast in my house, no one is too old for ice cream, cake, and sprinkles 😀
Sarah | Well and Full says
THIS CAKE!! You’ve really outdone yourself here, Natalie, it looks absolutely AMAZING! One of the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever seen!
Thank you Sarah <3
And now you ruined cotton candy for me 😀 Good for me I guess, it’s just sugar and artificial whatnot anyways. But this cake of yours is a whole another story. Seriously, how do you come up with that stuff? It’s AWESOME!!! <3 I love the colors, flavors and the pitaya sprinkles are just genius
Hahaha well I guess I’m sorry and you’re welcome all at the same time then! I can’t imagine it’s too much of a staple in your diet 😀 Thank you Lucie! I’m so happy to have you back to blogging, I’ve missed your sweet comments <3
Haha, not really no. But it is the one thing I love to stuff myself with once in a while. Though the sugar high (and crash), overall stickiness and newly the dust associations keep my cravings at bay. I’m glad to be back now that all thesis & wedding craziness is over 🙂
“Overall stickiness” lol?
Lauren Kennedy says
New reader here 🙂
This cake looks absolutely incredible, it is so so pretty! It is literally what magic would be if it was a cake. Does that make sense? I am not so sure… ha. Anyway, it sounds and looks amazing and I love that you have used cashew milk ice cream in it 🙂
Hi Lauren, welcome!! Yes yes yes, that makes total sense and was exactly what I was going for. Magic in the edible form 😀 Cashew milk ice cream is my fave, it’s sooooo creamy! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment <3
Anjali @ Vegetarian Gastronomy says
I’ve been meaning to stop by your blog and comment on this post for awhile now! It’s gorgeous and love how simple it is. The COLORS!!! Loving every bit of this. And love your video…using pitaya to color it is such a great and easy idea!
Don’t tell carrot cake, but this one is still my fave hehe ? Carrots just can’t beat these colors, I am totally in love with pitaya colored everything too! Thanks for stopping by Anjali <3
Anjali @ Vegetarian Gastronomy says
Haha well carrot cake is also one of my favs! So i’ll take BOTH!
OMG looks so stunning
Thanks Ratna! This one was a lot of fun 🙂
Looks AMAZING. Just wanted some advice … if I was to use a non-vegan cake recipe would it dry out being stored in the fridge? X
Hi Kimberly! Freezing any cake will dry it out faster than in the refrigerator or at room temp, but a vegan cake will be fine and may even stay more moist for longer 🙂
Hillary S. says
I’m on a quest to find the perfect vegan cake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and I’m considering this one. I’ve never heard of pitaya so I may have trouble with it. My daughter has requested a purple and blue cake though, so I’m wondering if you have any idea how I could go about creating a purple color without using synthetic food coloring?
Purple is even easier than pink actually: blueberries! Freeze dried blueberries ground up work really well in frostings because the color is very intense and they don’t add any liquid. But blueberry puree can work too depending on the recipe. Here is a blueberry cream cheese recipe from a blogger friend of mine with cashews that is a gorgeous shade of purple: http://thevegan8.com/2015/08/27/vegan-blueberry-cream-cheese/ You could take out the salt and pickle juice and ACV and just make it into a sweet frosting that way. Or this one uses a blueberry powder which is even easier if you can find it: https://nadiashealthykitchen.com/banana-blueberry-bread-video/ I have a whole pinterest board of just purple recipes, I think you might find some ideas/inspo there: https://www.pinterest.com/feastingonfruit/purple-vegan/
PS sorry for all the links, I get a little overly excited about purple food?
this cake is absolutely beautiful but has anybody actually made the cake? I’ve been searching through the many comments to try and find a good review on people who have actually successfully made it and I have not found one, only comments about people telling you how gorgeous it is.
I think it’s a bit too much effort for most haha, but the cake itself is based on this recipe which has gotten good feedback: https://www.feastingonfruit.com/healthy-vanilla-cake-chocolate-fudge-frosting/#comments
And it’s very similar to this chocolate cupcake recipe which has TONS of great reviews and remakes, one of my most popular recipes: https://www.feastingonfruit.com/the-best-healthy-chocolate-cupcakes/
Hope that helps!
Oh my gosh, my kids love cotton candy anything! I would love to make. Where I live they don’t carry a lot of dairy free icecream, hopefully I can find something because I’d love to be able to enjoy with them!
This one is so fun, I have a feeling they’d love it🤗🤗 Good luck with the dairy free ice cream hunt!
I wish I could leave a picture in the comments because holy moly this cake came out absolutely delicious and beautiful. I doubled up on the cake itself because I wanted some pretty thick cake layers, then used a purple taro ice cream that I picked up from the ice cream shop (my daughter loves taro and wanted an ice cream cake for her 3rd birthday) , and put some pomegranate, raspberries, and blue berries in the coco whip layer. It was divine and the colors were so vibrant!!
Ohmygoodness Grace your version sounds absolutely INCREDIBLE!! Purple taro ice cream sounds amazing in the layers, I bet the colors and decor were stunning all together I wish I could see it too. I hope you daughter loved it and had a very happy birthday🎂