Today’s Recipe: Pistachio Melon Cake


We first published this recipe a year ago and it received a lot of attention. This recipe, as it is written (continued below), with the ingredients listed, is how we invented it. And how we tested it. If we had tested substitutions and found that they worked, we would have included that information. If you have allergies or dislikes, you need to test them yourself. We take great pride in our recipes, making them over and over again until they’re perfect. For that reason, we can’t recommend substitutions unless they go through the rigors of our test-kitchen protocol— given the number of dislikes and allergies people have, we’d never get a recipe finished. And eaten:) Please don’t ask about substitutions; get brave instead. Put your creative apron on and let our other readers know how it turned out with the substitutions you chose. And by the way, we will never publish a recipe that didn’t work for us. If it fails for you, something was different. Our recipes are tested over and over until we’re sure that if you follow our directions exactly and use the ingredients we list, you’ll be successful. My DIL Ashley, our food guru, has put together a list of FAQs for this recipe. Find it here. Come back next week for a coconut-free and nut-free watermelon cake.



2    ¾” thick slices watermelon (seedless)
1    ¾” thick slice cantaloupe
1    ¾” thick slice honeydew
4    13.5 oz cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
We used Native Forest full-fat (not low-fat) Organic Coconut Milk that gave us approx. half a can of cream from each can (that have been refrigerated overnight to firm up the cream), just like in the how-to photos. Please take a minute to look through them!
¾   cup powdered sugar
½   t almond extract
¾   cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
½   cup blueberries

1. Stack all of the melon slices on top of each other, and cut inside the rind of the smallest round, creating four pieces of melon that are uniform in size.
2. Remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew. Set melon slices aside.
3. Scoop the coconut cream off the top of the cans of coconut milk (discard milk from the bottom of the cans or use in soups or other recipes) and place in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix until smooth.
4. Add powdered sugar and almond extract; mix until smooth.
5. Pat a slice of watermelon dry with a paper towel and place on a serving plate. Add a generous layer of coconut frosting. Pat cantaloupe dry and add to cake, add another generous layer of frosting, pat honeydew dry and add to cake.
6. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup pistachios and ¾ cup coconut frosting. Use it to fill in the center of the cantaloupe and honeydew.
7. Add another generous layer of frosting. Pat the final slice of watermelon dry and add to the top of the cake.
8. Frost the entire cake and garnish with remaining pistachios and blueberries. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Gather ingredients.



Stack two ¾” thick slices of watermelon, one ¾” thick slice of cantaloupe, and one ¾” thick slice of honeydew on top of each other, and cut inside the rind of the smallest round, creating four pieces of melon that are uniform in size.

Remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew. Set melon slices aside.

Scoop the coconut cream off the top of four 13.5 oz cans of coconut milk (that have been refrigerated overnight to firm up the cream) and place in a medium bowl (discard milk from the bottom of the cans or use in soups or other recipes). Using an electric mixer, mix until smooth.


Add ¾ cup powdered sugar.


Mix until smooth.



Add ½ t almond extract. Mix until smooth.

Pat a slice of watermelon dry with a paper towel and place on a serving plate.

Add a generous layer of coconut frosting.

Pat cantaloupe dry and add to cake, add another generous layer of frosting.


Pat honeydew dry and add to cake.

Add ¼ cup shelled and chopped pistachios to a small bowl. Add ¾ cup coconut frosting; stir to combine.

growing_jane-melon_cake-6368Use it to fill in the center of the cantaloupe and honeydew.

Add another generous layer of frosting. Pat the final slice of watermelon dry and add to the top of the cake.

Frost the entire cake.

Garnish with remaining ½ cup shelled and chopped pistachios and ½ cup blueberries. Chill for 2 hours before serving.


For more awesome recipes like this one, try my newly-released cookbook, Milk Cow Kitchen, or my magazine, MaryJanesFarm, now in its 13th year! Thank you for visiting my blog!

Leave a comment 468 Comments

  1. Jaimey says:

    This looks so good! I’m going to have to make this for my sister’s baby shower. :). Thanks for the step by step recipe!

    -Jaimey (fly-tying mountain girl)

  2. Annie Black says:

    I don’t think I could have done this without your step by step photo’s, Thanks!

  3. Susan says:

    This looks wonderful and healthy too. I cannot eat sugar, what do you suggest for an alternative?
    Love your blog. Have a wonderful long weekend. Susan

    • MaryJane says:

      What kind of sweeteners can you eat? I think organic coconut granules are a good alternative.

      • Holly Bernhard says:

        You could use Xylatol it is a all natural sweetner and it tasts just like sugar.

        • joyce says:

          Some side effects of xylitol are cramps and diarrhea. Small hard candies warn about this on the packaging.

          • Karen DeSpain says:

            This looks beautiful! Nowadays everyone is trying to eat healthy and stay away from sweets so it’s really hard to do something for their birthday. Almost everyone likes fruit (or should! Lol). This would be the perfect birthday “cake” to make. Thanks for the wonderful idea!!

          • Tanya says:

            ONLY if you eat a lot when you are new to it. So if you are, just don’t eat the entire cake ;), which you shouldn’t anyway, so it’s a great little extra motivation here for you lol.

            I have experienced it – I went x-happy and sweetened my tea with it and I like my tea very sweet in a very tall cup, so we are talking about 6 teaspoons lol. It was yummy but it cleansed me 😉 . Not pleasant, but not the end of the world either. If you are mindful of that side-effect, you never have to experience it.

        • Beth Halvorsen says:

          Please be careful when using Xylatol…. It is terminally Toxic to Dogs. It destroys their kidney and liver function. Very Deadly….. Keep away from dogs.

    • Ace says:

      Hi Susan,
      I asked our Food Stylist, Ashley, what she thought and she suggested cornstarch instead of powdered sugar, but was concerned it may give the frosting a chalky texture.

      You could try sweetening with coconut sugar, if that’s something you are able to have.

      If you give it a go, let us know how it goes! 🙂 -ace

    • Erica says:

      You could try powdered erythritol or xylitol instead of sugar or any glucose containing sweetener. The regular granules don’t dissolve in cold things, so either buy it already powdered, or whiz it thru the blender.

      • JoAnne says:

        erythritol or xylitol are the most toxic sweeteners on the market and they can kill animals if eaten by them.

        • Maureen says:

          Xylitol may kill dogs because their livers process it in a manner that CAN cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Just as you wouldn’t give chocolate or grapes (xylitol) to a dog, they shouldn’t get xylitol. It’s from birch trees, has been used for oral hygiene, is known to re-mineralize teeth and has half the calories of sugar. Just don’t give it to dogs. Perfectly safe for humans in moderation-it can cause flatulance and diarrhea, especially if one goes overboard in consuming it.

          • Tanya says:

            Amen! Love me some xylitol 🙂

          • mi says:

            thanks for this clear info about Xylitol Maureen. I knew but never saw all the arguments together. Now I am gonna pass it on !

            Kind regards, Milobie

    • Retta VanDriessche says:

      Stevia or Monk fruit in the Raw are good natural sweeteners.

      • Ursula says:

        I use Monk fruit in place of sugar for almost everything now due to diabetes…it works great!

        • CJ says:

          Please tell me about Monk fruit. I have never heard of it.

          • amy fuhrmann says:

            Monk fruit was recommended on Dr oz. I tried it and it taste like any other artificial Sweetener. It’s ok if you like that taste and apparently it’s really healthy

    • Chrissy says:

      Why not sweeten it with pineapple juice? Sort of a pina colada flavor going on.

      • MaryJane says:

        Try it and let us know how it works?

        • Lorraine says:

          How about the new honey crystals? Nektar. Honey is very good for seasonal allergies and our immune system in general.

        • Me says:

          use corn starch instead of the powdered sugar and sweeten it with a substitute of your choice. You need the consistency of the powdered sugar to get the desired results however it will not be sweet. you may also have to add a little extra corn starch to compensate for and extra fluids if you use a juice as a sweetener.

        • CJ says:

          Can you use strawberries instead of blueberries?

          • rebecca says:

            Dumb question! Anyways, this cake turned into a whole debate about sugar substitutes. WOW! Just make the damn cake and ENJOY it the way it is.

            Awesome recipe.

      • Robin says:

        That would taste great!

      • John says:

        That would definitely make your frosting too runny.

    • Allison says:

      I would also suggest using raw cashews. I don’t have the recipe off the top of my head, but if you look up Fully Raw Kristina on YouTube or Instagram, she’s got carrot cake recipes (ones for a full cake, the other for cupcakes) that use raw cashews and a few other things to make the frosting. They can also be used to make fully raw cheese, cheesecake – look up the Vegan Zombie for that on YouTube – and I’m sure a whole lot of other things.

      There’s really no need to further complicate things health wise for you by using processed/unnatural sweeteners.

    • Diana says:

      I suggest a complete substitute of Cool Whip, pistachios and blueberries and strawberries with out sugar. All those sugar substitutes are harmful in one way or another

      • Mary W. says:

        Subbing Cool Whip would be worse, health-wise with all the high fructose corn syrup in it! If one shouldn’t use sugar due to diabetes, and isn’t adverse to Splenda, try making the frosting with sugar-free pudding mix and heavy cream instead of milk…

        • Barbara says:

          I am trying to figure out what to substitute for the coconut frosting….vanilla pudding made with heavy cream should do the trick???? I’m also going to incorporate strawberries and bananas with that mixture for the middle but I am not a cook and need to know if this will work!

        • Holly Bernhard says:

          Wegmans in the all natural section has a coconut version of cool whip it is OUTSTANDING OMG !!!! and it has 3 grams sugar 25 calories o colosteral and tasts soooo good.

        • Kkm says:

          I would think that cool whip wouldn’t be firm enough. The melon would just squish it out between the layers

          • Kde says:

            You can actually buy a completely sugar free fat free cool whip. I use it for my daughter, & add fat free cream cheese to make a dip with. The marshmallow fluff is the only thing I have trouble finding sugar free, it is fat free though. I would think using the cool whip & cream cheese will be thick enough. I mix them both semi frozen. You could still throw in the coconut cream too, just blend them well. Possibly slightly re freeze before you ice. Or use the corn starch with cool whip we just enjoy the fat free cream cheese to thicken.

          • Pris says:

            Add 1pkg of cream cheese to 1. Tub cool whip. Flavor to your liking. Will be icing texture. And holds well!

      • Olga Ade says:

        Use “Stevia In The Raw” it is natural and the healthiest of all sweeteners, great for diabetics. Cool Whip is all the worse, full of chemicals

      • Farrah says:

        Ha! And your substitution of cool whip is not harmful?

    • SwampMama says:

      If you can eat raw honey, all you need is 1TBSP/per can. Otherwise, with all of this fruit you really do not need a sweetener. I use make mine with just some vanilla bean all of the time while omitting any sweetener.

    • Mary Ellen Cuneo says:

      Stevia is very sweet, so try to taste in a little bowl.

      • Cindy says:

        Try the oil, it’s not as strong sweet, and I think its a nicer sweet. I get the stevia oil in the Helathfood section of Wegmans$10-12 for small bottle with eye-dropper.Its very potent. Many kinds, but I use plain/no alcohol. Try it and see……………

    • Cindy says:

      Sweeten the coconut milk with Stevia. I use an oil, that I sweeten up many foods with. Ice tea, yogurt, lemon(water)ade, choc almond milk(Hot chocolate) Love this recipe, can’t wait to make, and I will be making Sugar-free!!

    • Luann Thomas says:

      Susan, try Truvia. It is specifically designed for diabetics and I have been using it for over a year and do not experience any sugar spikes or any other adverse effects. And I use the bakers version, its sold in most grocery stores here in FL for about $5.95-$6.69 for a 1lb bag.

    • Tiana says:


    • Terri says:

      I wonder how it would work with light cool whip as the frosting? Might not be stiff enough to hold the layers together though.

    • Lou says:

      I would try a little honey in this recipe…that is if you are not Diabetic. I can’t have sugar and I can do honey and maple syrup for sugar but I have celiac disease.

    • masandy says:

      I tried 1 large box diet instant vanilla -no milk but instead mix with 8 oz sour cream and 1 lg can un- drained crushed pineapple for filling and sugar free cool whip for the frosting it was great just didn’t put any nuts only berries on the top!

    • Elsa says:

      Stevia as alternative to powdered sugar

    • Glenda Kreiman says:

      Try using cool whip in place of frosting

  4. rosalynne brown says:

    beautiful cake you made it so easy with all the steps cant wait to try it thank you so much mary jane appreciate all your talent rosalynne

  5. Brenda Wheeler says:

    This cake looks wonderful. Will definitely have to try it.

  6. Sharon Suzanne Moran says:

    I’ve GOT to try this! Wow….yummy!

  7. diane says:

    it would be great to have these as a downloadable pdf file as well! that would make saving them easier. especially with the great photos.

  8. Roxanne Stephensanderson says:

    OMGosh…looks so yummy, can’t wait until payday to go get all the goodies and make this!!

  9. Jennifer Knox says:

    If anyone needs a taste tester- I’m in.
    Amazingly beautiful cake!

  10. Kathy says:

    a co-worker tried this 2x and the coconut milk did not harden, so we had a ‘dip’

    • MaryJane says:

      Hi Kathy,
      As you can see in the photos, we used Native Forest full-fat Organic Coconut Milk. We did not try non-organic coconut milks or cartons of coconut milk or low-fat coconut milk because we felt they wouldn’t work. When it’s been refrigerated overnight, about half of the can is firm, just like you see in the photos. Did your can of coconut milk give you about half a can of firm milk like in the photo?

      • Kathy L says:

        I think I made the mistake of shaking the cans prior to refrigeration last night because after opening 2 cans, all I have is thick “cream” and have concluded I have to run to the store, pick up 4 new cans, and start the process all over again. I have used the electric mixer on the 2 cans of coconut milk and to no avail. Any suggestions?

        • Debbie White says:

          Try different brands of coconut cream / milk – they vary hugely. Some just won’t work, some will give you half a can of solid creamy stuff to work with, and some will almost completely solidify.

      • JJ says:

        okay, I have tried this a couple of times based on this and other recipes on the internet. my coconut milk does indeed get half a can of solid (hard almost like a rock!) stuff on top. I pry it out of the can. I put it in the stand mixer. I whip it and it turns into little blobs of hard coconut milk… I finally tried adding some cornstarch & sugar (a few teaspoons) and whipping some more. I have a liquidy goo with small hard lumps in it. too runny to spread. it doesn’t whip up. ….. clearly i’m doing something wrong. I don’t get something that I could call ‘smooth’ to reach that stage you show before adding sugar, and once I go ahead and add sugar afterwards it just gets runny. not sure I can afford to keep experimenting with coconut milk at nearly $3 a can!!!! but I think a traditional buttercream would be pretty gross with this fruit item and was looking forward to coconut. how long should I have to whip it? 10 minutes? 20? 2?

        • Doris says:

          I would like to trythis with whipped cream.

        • Julie says:

          JJ – it’s not just you! I’v bought many cans of coconut milk that ruined my recipe by not whipping… I have gotten the advice that it may be the carrageenan in some, or other additives put in by the manufacturer to stabilize (or whatever other reason they think it necessary)… so now I’m researching what brand to get that is full-fat, 100% coconut milk with nothing else added – because even if it costs more it has to be less than having gone thru three or four cans before one whips up, and then I have to find uses for all the open milk! Maybe others will suggest brands. (I should have looked before commenting, but will now go research the ones Mary suggested in the first place, ha!)

        • AF says:

          I had the very same problem! I used the Native
          Forest organic coconut milk too! I did not add cornstarch. I thought I would need to whip it more. well, the more that I whipped it the more it separated! It reminded me of how whipping cream can turn into butter when it is whipped too much. So, I thought I ‘You can make frosting with butter-buttercream frosting’. I proceeded to whip the coconut cream until they were separated enough to gather the “butter” from the mix. I proceeded to whip that, it became very smooth but never ‘whipped’ liked whipping cream. I was able to frost the melon with this, but it diminished the amount to work with and I had to skimp on the amount in the layers and the sides (like allowing the mellon to peak through). It is VERY rich as it is almost pure saturated fat. It would be better if I could have gotten in to be litter and fluffier like whipped cream!
          Maybe next time I will try to let the cream to warm up a touch before I whip it. from the photo this website pictured their cream looks much softer coming out of the can than what I had.

          • AF says:

            Oh! -and I used full fat too!

          • MaryJane says:

            I found a new product at our co-op recently called Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative by COYO, in Albuquerque, NM.
            It’s sold in plastic containers with 5.3 oz in each. It was SUPER thick and creamy like Greek yogurt, only much thicker and more solid. I haven’t had a chance to try it in our cake idea but I think it might work. If someone has a minute to try it, let me know.

  11. Judy H says:

    This is beautiful, I hope to have the chance to try it sometime soon! Cream cheese might work as a thick frosting base also if we can’t find the full fat coconut milk. I will have to search for that locally.

    • Steve T. says:

      I was thinking to try it with a strawberry cream cheese blend instead of using the coconut milk for the entire thing and just put the coconut filling with the nuts in the middle.

  12. Ricki says:

    This is totally brilliant! And so beautiful. I bet it tastes divine, too. Can’t wait to try it when melons are back in season over here! 🙂

  13. Lizzy Munro says:

    My son can’t have almonds(allergic)Is
    there something I could sub for it?


    • MaryJane says:

      Try hazelnut or vanilla extract.

    • Lynn Banks says:

      Artificial almond extract is nut-free and tastes the same as the real stuff! (Unlike vanilla–nothing can replace the real thing.)

      • Richell says:

        Thanks for the tip on the artificial almond extract being nut free. I just found out I am very allergic to almonds after eating them all my life.

        • maddy says:

          I am allergic to coconut and grandson who I am raising is allergic to almonds I would do whipped cream with vanilla or rum flavor

  14. Donna says:

    Is powdered sugar the same as icing sugar?

  15. Susan says:

    Looks delish!! Will be giving it a go, as we get into healthier eating in 2014! By the way, for those who wish to pdf the page, there is a free program on the web called Cute Pdf… once installed you actually PRINT the file as a pdf as it appears in your printing options. Just a thought. 🙂

  16. Annie says:

    Could you use coconut oil? Or is it important to use the cream? I’m not a big fan of a heavy coconut flavor, so I’m wondering what an alternative might be. It seems like you’re just solidifying the oil out of the cream anyway…

    • MaryJane says:

      I have no idea if that will work. Give it a try.

      • Kristie says:

        I let the cocobut milk sit in the fridge for 24 hours. It never really thickened. So we did plan B. I added the powdered sugar and almond extract and we decided to use it as a “sauce” for cube melon. With the extra, we froze it and will gave granada (sp?). I will say this isreally, REALLY good!!

    • Janice says:

      No coconut oil will not replace the coconut cream.

    • Trish says:

      Coconut oil has a stronger flavor than the milk does. My brother-in-law hates coconut and we have found that he can ALWAYS taste when we put the oil in a recipe but he can’t always taste the milk. If you aren’t opposed to dairy use heavy cream and or cream cheese.

    • Lydia says:

      No:) coconut oil, coconut butter, and coconut milk all are different. You don’t want to eat a coconut oil frosted cake, believe me.

  17. Tsu says:

    Thank you for such an awesome recipe.
    My sister has severe allergies to nuts and dairy do you think I’d be able to do it without the nuts or even possible substitute with another fruit?

    Sooooo amazing though! I am just so pleased!!!

    • MaryJane says:

      It could be made without the nuts. You probably would want to add fruit to the filling in place of the pistachios, the coconut frosting would be a bit overpowering in the center without something else inside.

  18. Erin Johnson says:

    Have you ever had a problem with the fruit slipping off the icing?

    • MaryJane says:

      Is the fruit slipping before or after frosting? We didn’t have any problems once the cake was assembled. During assembly, if the melons have too much moisture on them, the frosting will slip. Be sure to pat melons dry with a paper towel before frosting.

  19. Debrah says:

    Wondering how far in advance this can be made. I’d love to make it for Father’s Day, but won’t have time that day. Can it stay in the refrigerator for 24 hours before an outdoor party?

  20. Rachel says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you

  21. Katie says:

    Wow, this is awesome- but why not just buy coconut cream?

  22. Cecelia says:

    Can I make this the day before and keep it in the refrigerator overnight?

  23. Suzanne Nesbit says:


  24. Jenny Lin says:

    This is brilliant!

  25. Debbye says:

    I am not a fan of coconut, do you have any other suggestions or recipe I could use instead?

    • Sheena says:

      I was going to make it with a cream cheese, Marshmellow fluff, vanilla mixture I use as a fruit dip anyways! Mmmm!

  26. Christine says:

    I would love to make this for fathers day. But my husbands allergic to coconut. Can you give me any ideas for alternatives for the coconut milk

    • Katie says:

      You could just make a whipped cream cheese frosting- that sort of thing is used to make fruit dip all the time! You could probably even buy a pre-made cream cheese fruit dip 🙂

  27. Shannon WITHERS says:

    Can’t wait 2 try4 daughterz b’day/Graduation party!!!!

  28. Mina says:

    For those that have an allergy to the coconut or do not like the taste maybe they could use a stablized whipping cream instead.

  29. Cant wait to try! This looks so different!

  30. Jennifer Arnold says:

    This looks to good to pass up. I’ll have to try it out

  31. Deborah Snow says:

    It looks really good and easy to make

  32. Katherine Campbell says:

    Must try pineapple cream would be more like a fruit salad cake

  33. picnic cake says:

    This looks awesome. My son was curious to know if he could eat cake every day and of course we discovered the unhealthy consequences. However, this cake has exactly what i was looking for. I’ll surprise him for his 4th birthday.

  34. Martella Owes says:

    This looks yummy. I’m trying this

  35. Kathy Esquibel says:


  36. Adela Gahe says:


  37. Josefina De Muniz says:

    Looks good fresh for this weather mmm

  38. barbara ann trujillo says:

    looks so good i will make one …thanks

  39. Wezi Bowker says:

    I believe you can use sugar instant vanilla pudding in the whipped cream. I use about 3 Tablespoons in my regular whipped cream & it stabilizes it, so that it doesn’t separate. it will keep a week in the fridge …IF it lasts that long!!! Wezi

    • Ciomara Magana says:

      Where can i buy coconut cream?? Wezi Bowker did u use the whipped cream & instant vanilla pudding instead??if so how much?.i want to make it for fathers day:)

      • Cheryl says:

        You can find coconut cream in any grocery store. Usually in the ethnic foods isle. Shake the can though. If it shakes right away with liquid, it isn’t creamy enough. it should seem solid when you shake it. There are usually 2 to 3 types to choose from.

    • Karen Sternquist says:

      I dollop of sour cream in the whipped cream will also stabalize it – I trick my mother taught me!

  40. That looked amazing

  41. Becky Cordova says:

    That looks so good..I got the receipe to make it at home..Thanks =)

  42. Trishia Barreras says:

    I so love this recipe im gping to try it for sure

  43. Vicky says:

    Magnificent. Will be in a cabin this week spending the weekend with great friends and will make this for desert… It looks YUMMIE. thank you so much.

  44. Robyn Stahls says:

    Wondering what i can use instead of coconut. Milk

  45. Robyn Stahls says:

    Wondering what i can use instead of coconut. Milk .
    Thinking condnced milk

    • JJ says:

      condensed milk won’t do what coconut milk does — there will not be a hard cream layer that separates. If you get heavy whipping cream and whip it up that is more likely to make a good dairy substitute.

  46. Verna Jackson says:

    That I will try, it looks delicious.

  47. Susan g says:

    Wonder if u get fresh pineapple and put in center instead of the nuts

  48. Monique Lunn says:

    I am allergic to that nut, I am wondering if anyone had tried a substitute like maybe almonds?

  49. Eve says:

    I want someone to make this for Me for my Birthday (09/06) but I’d want strawberries or cherries or raspberries or blackberries on top instead of the blueberries. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      I was thinking you can use marshmallow cream and cream cheese as the frosting. We use it for a fruit dip all the time.

      • Cindy says:

        I was thinking cool whip, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Yum, if you’re concerned about the sugar, moderation is the key or don’t eat it!

  50. Bonnie Grenier says:

    Oh yum!

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