flourless black bean chocolate cake. yep.

I HAVE A LIST OF TOP 5 FOODS. In fact, on one of our first dates, I asked Paul about his. With a sort of deer-in-the-headlights look, he shrugged and explained that he didn’t have such a list (he politely left out saying anything like “because I’m not 9”). No matter. Mine, I announced, were: 1. Steak 2. Salmon 3. Salad 4. Cake and 5. Ice cream. You know what? I still love all of those, but these days I’d probably replace salmon with chicken under a brick (the super juicy kind with salty, crispy skin). But I would never, ever replace cake. What I would do though, is update my recipe. Just how healthy can cake be? This month, we’re going to find out.

We’ve got a lot of birthdays in May, my own, Phoebe’s, one grandmother, one great grandmother and a few days into June, we’ve got a first birthday party to plan for George. So, we’re making cake and quite a bit of it. The question is: Can I make chocolate cake healthier–or just less bad for you?

The first test run is something I’ve heard about for a long time. Black bean chocolate cake. This particular version is a riff from one I found on Healthy Indulgences, a blog about baking without sugar, flour or gluten. It was pretty good. But I’ll say this, you have to leave it in the fridge or it does taste a little beany. Two more things: The original recipe used Stevia or erythritol. I don’t know what those things are, so I prefer regular sugar.  And wow, what a lot of eggs! It was very chocolatey and rich though, quite a good trick for a cake that doesn’t include flour–and packs a protein punch too!

I’m not sure if it’s top-5 worthy just yet, but we’re getting there.


This recipe makes one 9×9 inch cake or one round cake. For a layer cake, double the recipe.


  • 1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon water


Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare baking pan by greasing with butter, then dusting with cocoa powder.

Blend everything in the blender, like this: Rinse the beans and put them in the blender. Add 3 eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Blend on high until it’s completely smooth with no lumps at all. Add butter, blend for 1 minute. Add 4th egg, blend for 1 minute. Add last egg, blend for 1 minute.  Add cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and water, blend again until completely mixed through, about 1 more minute.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Allow to cool and by all means, add chocolate butter cream frosting! I made this better-for-you version for Estelle’s first birthday.



  1. Abby says

    I made this cake today but as I was pulling it out of the oven, I remembered that there was vanilla extract in the list of ingredients but I didn’t put it in the mix. I re-read the instructions and its not listed there at all. You may want to revise your recipe. I’ll remember to add it in next time.

    • charityc says

      Oh dear, I’m so sorry Abby! As I said in my email to you earlier, this sleep deprived baker will double check the instructions next time. Hope it still turned out well–and you can add frosting or powdered sugar on top and still get a sweet enough treat. off to correct the recipe now…

  2. gigi says

    I made cup cakes :) baked for 30 min mashed banana instead of butter and 2/3 cup sugar since the banana has sugar. Turned out awesome thanks for the recipe!

  3. suzanne says

    The texture of the batter reminds me of Wacky Cake which contains no eggs but uses vinegar to help it rise. I’m wondering if that could be a possibility. I’ve used wine vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar and it really enhances the chocolate flavor. Just a thought :) I have it in the oven right now the way you said to make it and can’t wait to see how it turns out 😀

      • suzanne says

        I started making the cake and found I was 2T. short on butter so substituted with 2T. mashed banana AND instead of water used wine vinegar. I’m gonna bring it to a family picnic. Will let you know how it goes :)

  4. says

    Hi I have made different versions of bean cakes for some years and our grandchildren love the but a quick question. I have promised to bake the birthday cake for my twin grandchildren , I have to bake ahead of time . Has any of you frozen a bean cake and if how did it go?? I do not want to destroy all the work doing a fancy B-cake just to destroy it by freezing it.
    PLEASE Anyone can help answer this????!!!!!!

    • charityc says

      Hi Shirley!

      I haven’t frozen this particular cake but I think you could do it. I freeze muffins all the time and they always turn out fine. I would use two freezer bags, or if that’s not possible because of size make sure you wrap it tight in at least 2 layers, maybe one plastic wrap and the other foil. When it’s time to thaw, most bakers suggest removing the wrapping and putting inside another bag or a new layer of plastic wrap so the condensation from the wrap doesn’t affect the cake. Here are a few solid tips from wikihow on freezing a cake. Good luck!


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