While a black bean chocolate cake probably sounds anything but delicious, I’m here to change your mind! This cake is not only gluten-free and dairy-free, but packed with protein and fiber from the black beans and eggs. Yet the olive oil and cocoa powder provide richness and decadence for a light but fudgy texture that will make you forget that this cake is not your conventional butter-laden cake. The cake itself is super easy to make with just 8 ingredients you probably already have at home!
It’s also topped with a vegan, fat-free frosting! While I’ll always go for a conventional buttercream, this is a great option if you have friends with dietary restrictions. More below!
What does black bean chocolate cake taste like?
Coming from someone who loves chocolate cake, this tastes exactly like regular chocolate cake with a tender, moist crumb that’s a little fudgy and not too sweet. I promise you won’t taste the black beans at all!
What ingredients are in vegan frosting?
This frosting is inspired by Angelica’s Kitchen which uses a few unusual ingredients:
- Maple syrup: to sweeten!
- Cornstarch: to help thicken
- Agar flakes: a sea vegetable superfood that serves as a gelatin substitute. When boiled with water, the flakes create a jelly-like texture.
- Cocoa powder: for chocolate-y flavor
- Vanilla: for enhanced flavor
All of these ingredients combine to form a frosting with the texture of chocolate pudding. You can tell it’s fat-free thanks to a lack of richness, but it’s a nice light frosting that will be safe for vegans and gluten-free folk alike.
The Best Black Bean Chocolate Cake
For the cake
- 1 15.5 oz can of black beans drained and rinsed (or: ~1 ¾ cups cooked black beans)
- 4 eggs separated
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons olive oil OR butter or coconut oil at room temperature*
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the vegan chocolate pudding frosting:
- 6 tablespoons agar flakes
- 1.5 cups water
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- ¾ – 1 cup maple syrup
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
- scant ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons almond milk
Make the cake
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 6-inch round cake pan.
- Blend the beans, two eggs, vanilla and sugar in a high speed blender until completely smooth.
- If using olive oil: add the olive oil and two remaining eggs and blend again. Add the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and blend until smooth.
- If using butter or coconut oil: In a separate large bowl, beat the butter or coconut oil until fluffy. Add the remaining two eggs, beating well after each egg. Beat in the bean mixture until fully combined, then the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Beat for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top springs back.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before flipping the cake out onto a cooling rack. Let the pan cool completely before pouring the remaining batter into the pan. Bake until done. Let cool for 5 minutes. Allow for both layers to cool completely before icing.
Make the frosting
- Simmer the agar flakes and water together for 3 minutes, then whisk in the cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
- Whisk the cornstarch and almond milk in a small bowl and add to the agar mixture. Let simmer for five minutes until very thick, then remove from heat.
- Pour into a glass pan or measuring cup and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or until the cake is ready to be frosted. Whisk the frosting by hand or with an electric beater to fluff up before frosting the cake.
i made this but in a bread loaf pan and i baked it for 45min and it’s wonderful!!
Would this work with an egg replacement such as chia egg?
I haven’t tried, so I can’t speak to that sub, sorry!
You call for 6″ round cake pans. This isn’t a typical size. How do I use this to make a normal sized cake??
I would try doubling the recipe and baking in an 8″ or 9″ cake. Although I haven’t tried this, so I’m not sure how long it would need to bake for–keep a close eye on it!
The recipe says to only pour half the batter in the 6″ pan – so I assume you need 2 cake pans? Can I pour the whole batter in one 9″ pan?
I typically bake half the batter at a time in the 6″ pan (so I just use one pan) but I know that’s a pain. You can definitely try baking it all in a 9″ pan, I’m just not sure what the bake time would be in that case!
I just made cupcakes with this recipe. Turned out beautifully and they taste so good. I used coconut oil. So excited how this turned out. Thank you Erika for sharing. 🙂
Awesome!!! Thank for the positive feedback Felis, so happy they turned out well for you! 🙂
Caroline @ chocolate & carrots
Your cake turned out beautifully!!! 😀 Ah, the power of black beans in a chocolate cake. Love it!
Thanks Caroline! You seriously single-handedly renewed my faith in black bean desserts. You’re the best!!
Hey, will this recipe work if I substitute black beans for red kidney beans?
Also, 15.5 oz is the total weight of a can, before draining, right? (Sorry, outside US!)
Thanks in advance, I’m planning to make this tomorrow!
Hi Marianna! Yikes I honestly have no idea about using red kidney beans, sorry! I’ve only ever tried it with black beans but I’m curious what the product would be like red kidney beans…let me know if you try it! Yes, that is the weight before draining. According to the can, there should be 1 and 3/4 cups of beans total, which probably isn’t that helpful, but you can convert that to grams or whatever you’re using.
Hope you like the cake and thanks for stopping by! 🙂
am so trying this too!!
HOW IS THIS SUPERFOOD WHEN IT LOOKS SO SINFULLY GOOD?!?! I must have done something right in this world.
I’ve bookmarked this. I can’t wait to not feel as guilty as I usually do when I give in to chocolate cake. I can’t get over how moist and chocolately and fantastic this looks seeing as its made of black beans. This is the best new years present ever!
Natasha @ The Cake Merchant
How did I miss this post? Healthy Chocolate cake?!!! Sign me up! My fiancé HATES beans, but I bet he’ll eat them in cake form.
Haha Erik is not too big on the idea of black bean baking either, but I’m pretty sure he would have loved this cake had I saved him a piece! (muahaha. Did not share.)
Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
I cannot get over how decadent and fudgy this cake looks…and then the ingredients. You’re amazingggg
I love black beans in desserts! They are so tasty especially brownies with avocado frosting! Miam!
katie @ ohshineon
love this recipe. is that weird? because i really like flour in my things. black beans are okay, too. chocolate is the best.
Nancy @ gottagetbaked
As someone who has butter and sugar running through her veins, this frosting scares me a bit but damn girl, this cake! It looks amazing! I would’ve never guessed there are super healthy black beans in there. The texture is perfect – it looks so fluffy and moist. Merry Christmas, dearest Erika! You are one of the best blogging friends a gal could ever ask for. I hope you eat yourself into a wonderful food coma. Enjoy every minute of your winter break. Much love to ya, Nance.
Wow. I had no idea that a black bean cake with fat-free frosting could look this darn good!!! It’s amazing Erika… gorgeously moist, seriously dark and mysterious, thick fudgy frosting, not at ALL healthy looking (I mean that in the most positive sense!). Definitely want to try this, though I definitely echo everyone’s comments about both black bean chocolate baking and chickpea cookie dough. I am not normally a fan of either but I am definitely going to try this cake regardless!!! I hope that you and Erik have an awesome Christmas, full of merriment and everything sweet xxx
Irina @ wandercrush
I completely agree about scarring black bean dessert experiences! I was always enamoured with the idea because of my black bean obsession and fascination with healthy baking alternatives… but I have had SO many disasters with bizarre black bean brownies over the past few years that I’ve never attempted making cake with them. This looks perfect, though, and I trust your judgment as the Pancake Princess 😉 Have you ever made black bean chocolate pancakes? Heh.
I will make this cake, but I might use my regular cake frosting recipe. Hey, at least it’s half healthy! haha Thanks for sharing!!!
Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
This cake looks AMAZING, and I love the healthiness about it 😀 Gorgeous photos!
Whoa! I never would have guessed that this was anything other than a crazy rich decadent chocolate cake! Definite bonus that it actually has redeeming qualities!
Love these stunning snaps and I’ve got to say, for a black bean chocolate this must’ve been awesome! That frosting looks super slick & good too, ‘oh so glossy!’
The Vegan 8
Ugh, I hear ya….black bean baking is so GROSS! But by the looks of this, you’d never know….I can see how all the eggs would help the texture. Wouldn’t work as a vegan cake, but for people who eat eggs, this is purely gorgeous and looks so chocolatey!! You made it look like a PERFECT chocolate cake! Oh, and now I see what you meant when you said my chocolate ganache reminded you from something from this Angelica’s kitchen….mine has similar ingredients, just no heating or agar flakes. I may try this sometime and use tapioca starch and some other liquid for rise and see if it will work 🙂
Cool! Thanks for the compliments 🙂 Minimalist Baker has some vegan GF black bean brownies that look pretty good but yeah–other than that, I really haven’t found very many successful vegan black bean recipes!
What a decadent looking cake!
Katie (The Muffin Myth)
I want cake! I haven’t delved into black bean baking yet, but you may have convinced me. That looks good!
Oh my gosh Katie!! I meant to tell you that I made a rice krispie cube for my office white elephant exchange and it was the hit of the party! Apparently all the execs were talking about it at their dinner event yesterday. The lucky guy who opened it sliced it up and left it in the kitchen yesterday (and brought me a box with four giant pieces), so it was a win all around. Thanks for the brilliant idea!!
Mary Frances @ The Sweet Tooth Life
I was scarred by black bean baking, too. This cake is changing that. Wow, the texture looks to die for! I guess I’ll stick with my not so vegan frosting;) but this cake makes me want to stuff my face. Have fun this weekend!
Haha what did you try? I think I made some black bean brownies that were truly awful.
Kaylie @ Skinny Muffin
Totally learned something new. Agar flakes have always freaked me out (isn’t it agar-agar that they use in science labs??) but now I know it’s not scary! Win! And chocolate cake is a must for blogs. I have no chocolate cake, only chocolate cupcakes. This needs to change.
Lolll so THAT’S why it sounded familiar!! And I know right? I did a double take when I realized I have no chocolate cake recipes. Must be fixed!