Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mouthwatering Black Bean Chocolate Cake. Yes, Really.

A friend of mine, who grew up in China, shudders at the way we eat beans here -- salted, with bacon, in chili con carne. In short, we eat beans as a savory dish. To her, they are a dessert. She likes them made sweet, in puddings, cakes, and as a pastry filling.

When you think about, beans really are a neutral tasting vegetable, and depend a lot on how we season them. So when I was looking for a way to make a gluten free cake, I wondered about beans as a flour substitute. Beans have a few distinct advantages over white flour:

-- they're a high protein, whole food.
-- they're high in a kind of soluble fiber that helps stabilize blood sugars. This is great for everybody but especially for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
-- in my area, they are grown locally, while wheat is not. So since I try to eat locally and in season, I'm trying to cut down, and perhaps eliminate, flour products.
-- they're great for people with gluten intolerance.

I've made this cake three times and even served it to company. It's dense, moist, and rich with no hint of "beaniness" at all. There are no weird, non-food, chemical ingredients -- all simple, whole foods. And it is extremely easy and fast to make.

Mouthwatering Black Bean Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To prepare the cake pan:
Grease a 9" cake pan with butter, then dust with cocoa powder. Line pan with parchment paper cut to fit bottom of pan.

To prepare the batter:
In a blender, combine 1 and 1 quarter cup rinsed black beans, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, 6 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Blend until there are absolutely no lumps.

In a bowl, whip until smooth, by hand or with electric beater, 1/2 c honey and 7 tablespoons butter. Add 2 eggs and whip until smooth.

Pour butter mixture into blender with bean mixture and blend until incorporated.

At this point, the batter should look glossy and smooth and very much like any traditional chocolate cake batter.

Pour batter into pan. Thump pan on the counter several times to smooth batter and dissipate air bubbles. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for ten minutes, invert onto a plate, and then turn over again onto a cooling rack.
Allow the cake to finish cooling completely on the rack -- the longer it cools, the better the texture will be. I usually cool mine overnight.

The cake is great on its own, but I my family likes it best with honey sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of pecans. And, I confess, I've also iced it with traditional powdered sugar chocolate icing -- not all that healthy, I know, but company was coming and I panicked.

One more note: I've recently been seeing recipes using beans as a flour substitute all over the internet. Many, if not most, use some form of artificial sweetener instead of honey, and many also use oil instead of butter. Other use no fat at all. I suppose this is an attempt to reduce calories or carbs, but because I'm not crazy about fat free recipes, and because I'm not crazy about artificial sweetener, I haven't tried any of these versions.

**Also posted at Real Food Wednesday**


  1. That looks delicious! I'm going to try this.

  2. You may make a cake eater out of me yet. I honestly never realized you could cook with beans that way, how interesting. I know what my next dessert will be.

  3. Oh this looks so delicious. I'm hoping to try it next week.

  4. What a great idea and healthy alternative to the traditional. I would definitely need to sell this one to my family after they ate it!

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  6. OK, I'll be 1st I thought this was a joke! I mean, I'm all over beans, and eat them regularly...but always as a savory dish, never a sweet. I think I many have to try this!

  7. Hi! I just read your whole post to my husband because it sounded so interesting. We not eating (at least white) flour right now and are always looking for baking recipes that are healthier - we both have a sweet tooth (or several). I'll be trying this out soon! Thank you!!! :) Silke

  8. Sounds good...I'm GF and looking for new recipes and ideas. I was wondering are the black beans cooked? Canned? Or dry beans that are rinsed?

    I once tried blending dried garbanzo beans and it was a mess...I shot round beans and glass all over my kitchen. Surprised me! No harm done, just a lot of clean up.

  9. I'm so excited to find a good bean recipe for dessert, no less. Awesome.

  10. I am so trying this recipe! Thank you!

  11. I'm curious too if the beans are cooked or dry? I made it with the dried beans and while edible, it wasn't quite what i was expecting. On the other hand, my blender couldn't handle the dried beans so i ground my beans into flour with my wheat grinder, so maybe that was the problem?

  12. Hi!

    The beans are cooked. You can use canned or homemade. Just rinse them in a colander first and shake them dry. I suspect you can use other kinds of beans as well as black beans too, but I don't know that for a fact. I keep meaning to try a gingerbread or white cake recipe but haven't found the time yet. I'd love to hear how your recipes go, or if anyone tries variations!

  13. I tried it with dried beans. BAD IDEA!!!!!

  14. wow. who knew. except the Chinese. yeah, i guess i have had those black bean (sweet) dumpling/cake thingies.
    i'll definitely try it, we love chocolate.
    in the flourless arena, have you tried torte? traditional torte uses ground nuts instead of flour, and also makes an incredibly decadent choc cake. expensive though. i always make it for my b-day, cuz it's a special treat.

  15. Made it and it was a hit!


  16. I just made Blck bean brownies this week omg delicious! brought them to work everyone loved them couldnt believe they had black beans. soooo moist and light. wish I would have found this years ago.

  17. You have no idea how thankful I am for this recipe!!!! My super picky son loves this!!! Thank you!

  18. You're very welcome, Brandy! Glad you liked it.

  19. this is fantastic. thankyou. i replace the egg whites with another egg and substitute 4 of the 7 tablespoons of butter with applesauce. and i mixed all ingredients together at once and it comes out excellent. great with peanut butter cream icing.

  20. Thank you, thank you, Thank you. My husband is a newly diagnosed diabetic and we have to stay away from flour, which is not making him happy. He feels so deprived. I cannot wait to put a piece of this cake in front of him and tell him it is on the safe list.
    Thanks again.

  21. This is a great recipe! I have made this quite a few times already. The first time it was too salty, I used the reduced sodium canned beans the 2nd time and it was perfect. I have also found that with my oven, if I cook it 35 minutes instead of 45 it is perfect and not dry at all. I top it with a thin layer of homemade ganache and raspberries! Everyone who has tried it loves it and doesn't believe it's blackbeans.