Are you looking for nut-free options when it comes to dairy-free / gf desserts, especially of the CAKE variety? I must admit that love my nutty desserts, but even more than that I love the thought of everyone having cake :) So the experiments never end here. From cauliflower, to avocado, to seedy cakes, oaty cakes, etc, you've got options. And now you've got beany options, too! I've been using black beans in baked chocolate cakes for ages, so it seemed about time they made their way into a no-bake treat.
I guess I began experimenting with adding beans to my raw cakes a few months ago and I have to say there was A LOT of trial and error along the way to make a cake I was happy with. It's not as simple as it would seem. I sort of laugh at how easy I thought it would be when the idea first entered my head. Beans with some nuts in your dessert -- you're good. Beans without any nuts... now that's where things get tricky, and you can easily find yourself in gritty / dry / chalky territory. Beware!
This black bean chocolate cake was a version I was finally super happy about. And so was my husband. He ate most of this cake (highly unusual!) and enthusiastically proclaimed "This! This actually tastes like a real dessert!" ? I hope that tells you something ;). Poor guy is not a dessert lover (understatement) but has to be my taste-testing guinea pig in these kitchen adventures more often than he'd like.
Anyways, this cake is really lovely. And super easy to throw together and get your chocolate fix in a hearty way. Another bean-cake bonus: it's affordable! Have I convinced you yet? In case you're wondering, no, you can't taste the beans :) Just make sure you rinse them REALLY well if you're using canned beans so you don't get any added flavors in there... Wouldn't want your chocolate cake to taste like kombu ;)
Now for the crust you can use any nut or seed you wish. I used pumpkin seeds to keep the cake "nut-free" since that's the theme here... but almonds, cashews, pecans, etc. would all be lovely, and even oats, or a mix of whatever you've got on hand. Though I do quite like how it tastes with the pumpkin seeds, after all.
P.S. This recipe makes a tiny cake -- 4" (this is the springform pan I used to make it). For a 6" cake, triple the recipe (or quadruple for a taller 6").
P.P.S. There's a video series on cake swirl patterns in the video pack in Unconventional Treats if you wanted to learn how to make this (or other) decorative pattern(s).Print
Black Bean Chocolate Cake
A gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake made with black beans and without using any nuts.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4" cake
- Category: Cake
- Method: No-Bake
- Cuisine: Dessert
- ½ cup raw or roasted pumpkin seeds / pepitas
- 1 soft medjool date, pitted
- ½ tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp agave
- 1 cup cooked (rinsed and drained) black beans
- 3 tbsp agave
- 2 tbsp plant milk (not coconut* -- use rice milk, a nut milk, etc.)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, liquefied
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- + 3 tablespoon cacao powder
- cacao nibs, shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, etc., and some hemp seeds
- Process all crust ingredients, except agave, into a sticky crumble in a food processor. Add agave and process briefly to combine. Transfer this mixture into a 4" springform pan and press down for form a crust. Place in the freezer while working on the next step.
- Process all filling ingredients, except cacao powder, in a high power blender. Once the filling is smooth, remove about 3 tablespoon of this mixture and set aside for drizzling / making the swirl pattern (I used this pen tool to just draw it straight out of the blender). Add the cacao powder to the blender and blend the mixture once more until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture into the springform pan over the crust and smooth out the top. Drizzle some of the drizzle or make a swirl pattern of your choice. Sprinkle with desired toppings. Place in the freezer and chill for 4-5 hours for the cake to set. Allow the cake to thaw out a little at room temperature to soften a bit before serving. Enjoy!
*Coconut milk and raw cacao sometimes don't get along in the freezer. I recommend using a different plant milk if possible.
I've never rated/commented any recipe before - but I just HAD to say how DEEE-LICIOUS this recipe is! The only thing I did differently was I used maple syrup instead of agave (I didn't have any agave handy). Even with the maple syrup, it came out beautifully! I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make, and the fact that its a no-bake recipe, this makes it perfect for hot summer months!
I'm so happy you enjoyed this, Angela! Maple syrup is my go-to sweetener usually and I agree it works well in this cake. Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback.
My four-year-old devoured her slice in two seconds flat! I made it on a whim, so I had to use some substitutions. For the crust I left out the oil, used roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds, Deglet Noors, and simple coconut sugar syrup. For the cake I used that same syrup and cocoa powder (one-to-one ratio). When I sampled the batter the cocoa powder seemed way too strong, but once it set in the freezer the flavors all blended beautifully! It only thawed 10 minutes before we dug in, but tomorrow we’ll let it thaw at least 20-30 minutes for easier slicing/eating. Thanks for an amazing recipe, Audrey!
So happy to hear that, Stephanie! :) Thanks for the lovely feedback and for sharing your swaps.
P.S. Recipes made "on a whim" are my favorite kinds of recipes! :)
Just stumble upon your website and I am super excited to try out your recipes! My boyfriend has a ton of allergies and I have been struggling at adapting some of the cooking to find equivalents that are just as flavourful and well tasty... But these seem really promising! I'm wondering if for the plant milk you used sweetened or unsweetened? Also I have dont have agave on hand but I do have rice malt syrup. Would that be a suitable substitute? I'll report back when I try one of these recipes.. struggling at picking one, they all look so amazing!! Thanks.
Also wondering, are (properly rinsed) canned black beans okay to use? Thanks
Hi Janie, I'm glad you're finding stuff that might work for your bf! :) The plant milk is indeed unsweetened. Rice malt should be fine instead of agave, just taste the blended filling and see if it's sweet enough for you since some sweeteners are sweeter than others. And yes, rinsed canned beans work great here. Enjoy!
Do you know what is the nutritional value of this cake? How much calories and protein it has in one cake?
Sorry, I don't have the details as I generally don't look them up. But you could easily find the specs you're looking for by inputting any recipe through one of the many free recipe calculators on the web. This one is one I like when I need to look something specific up: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp
Can you post a new link for the pen tool? I really want to make this and the design on the top of the cake is super pretty!
Hi Ali -- I just updated the broken link (thanks for the heads up!). Here it is again just in case: icing pen.
Holy cow! I made this this morning and just tried a slice after about 5 hours in the freezer. BEST DESSERT EVER!!! Never would you guess that there are black beans in this! The texture is amazing.Thank you for your amazing recipes, this is the third I have tried and they have all been great!!!
So happy you liked it, May :) Thank you very much for the feedback -- your enthusiasm made my day!
Hi Audrey! Just want to ask if this cake is more like a thick denser kinda raw dessert or much creamier like an avocado mousse thing? Looks beautiful, I'm just wondering whether should I make :) Thanks xx
Glad you asked :) When you just take it out of the freezer it would be firm and dense, but if you let it thaw out long enough it becomes like a chocolate mousse cake. My husband likes it like mousse, so I'd take out a slice for him a good 20 mins beforehand to get it to the right consistency (though the thaw time will vary of course depending on your house temp).
If you're planning on doing that, I recommend allowing the cake to set as per directions and then slice it and keep the slices frozen so that you can thaw out individual slices each time (unless you're planning on serving it all in one go, of course).
Hi Audrey - just wonderinf what type of cake tins you use, especially for these types of cakes? Thanks in advance.
I love cakes with beans and i regularly make a chickpea chocolate cake and so far no one can pick it until i tell them :)
Beans and chickpeas are just so versatile, aren't they!
For the tin, if you look just above the recipe I linked to the specific pan I used to make it (in the P.S. part of the post). I get my tiny pans from Amazon. I usually try to link to the pan I use in most recipes -- especially for the unusual sizes.
Definitely going try this, but before trying would like to know if it is possible to do it without oil? What are your thoughts? Would it work?
Without the oil, it will likely go from frozen rock solid to melted cake pretty quickly. You can use the filling without oil though as a mousse (really delicious), and in the same vein you can make this cake in little cups or glass jars without the oil -- that way you won't have to worry about it melting -- like a mason jar cake, you know? :) I do that sometimes.
Great- thanks so much for your response!
Ho problem -- enjoy it! :)
Lisa A says
Hi my daughter can't have dates, prunes or raisins. Is there something else you can use to replace them? So many raw treats use dates and so far that has limited us from trying a lot of recipes. She can have dried cranberries and goji berries but I think they wouldn't work because of flavor.
In this type of cake where the dates are only at the base, I use them to cut down on the coconut oil a bit because the dates also act as a binder (but coconut oil alone can do the job as well). So you could exclude the date and just add a tiny bit more maple and a tiny bit more coconut oil and you'll be good to go. Cranberries would actually be nice here though -- I love cranberries and chocolate :) But it's up to you. The date is non-essential. Enjoy the cake :)
I made this cake on tuesday but turned it into cupcakes and replaced the black beans with kidney beans because I couldnt find any in my hometown stores (I live in Germany). It was so delicious! The filling would make such a great frosting and I gave my boyfriend a teaspoon full to try and just told him it was a coconut-chocolate cream without reffined sugar and even he said it was good (he's one of the people who act like disclaiming sugar, fat and wheat makes life sad and his feeding mostly contains cheese, schnitzel, noodles, pizza, bread, cold meat, energy drinks and lemonades). Unfortunatly right after I told him what the main ingredient is he didnt dare to take a bite of the finished cupcakes. But I just love it! I will redo the filling for other cakes and desserts, since I am happy having no food allergies at all I will have nuts for the crust next time since I think a milder nut-taste would fit the filling better than the pumpkin seeds (for me). Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, they make healthy eating so much more fun!
Aw, best feedback ever, Jessica! So happy you liked it and I agree, it makes a great frosting or pudding. I was thinking of sharing a recipe for one down the road -- I really enjoyed it as such. And yes, other nuts in the base would be lovely for sure. So happy you enjoyed it and that even he enjoyed it some to a degree (sounds just like my husband btw -- if I tell him what's in it he won't eat it sometimes ?). Thank you for sharing.
I forgot to mention, Jessica -- I made this with pinto beans as well, and even red kidney. I just love black beans so recommended those for the recipe. But these bean varieties are great alternatives. Thanks for confirming :)
Sarah | Well and Full says
I can't believe you've made a cheezecake with black beans!! Is there anything you CAN'T do, girl?! :D
Yep, it was fun :) Thanks Sarah!
Natalie | Feasting on Fruit says
I'm loving the broad swirl strokes on this one, looks really lovely when sliced. And as per usual, nope didn't see this coming at all! How funny that this somewhat out there idea your husband finally is into, but all the usual (for you at least :D) nutty cakes he doesn't care for?? lol Hey, I suppose he just has healthy tastes. This is another one of those instances where we should eat all the cake for a dose of protein right? Post workout ya know ;)
Heh, he's more of a potato or corn chip kind of a guy. For his birthdays I've make him a pizza with candles in the past :). There are definitely a few classics he likes, and he does eat my other desserts (so long as they don't contain certain offenders, like bananas or coconut, or orange...), but it's not his thing and he usually grumbles about it :D He's just got a savory palate.
OMG, can this be used with other beans and without chocolate, maybe for a vanilla variation? Just ran across the site from another blog, and you are so talented. I will definitely be perusing your recipes!
I tried many cakes with beans while creating -- mainly pinto, lima, and white navy. They all turned out ok but had a slight chalkiness to them or a beany flavor that I wasn't super fond of. The black beans and chocolate somehow break that up into a delicious cake. That said, I think the answer to your question is definitely yes -- it's more about how you balance the beans with other ingredients to make it work. I'll be sharing a white bean version shortly, so stay tuned if you wanted to see how that goes :)
Oh, I'll definitely be on the lookout for that! Thanks!
Mmm, yes, beans! This cake looks so delicious that everyone should give beans a try in desserts. Not to mention that, yes, affordable as they are, you can now share this cake with your neighbours ;).
Always in love with your swirls, Audrey!
Thanks very much, Natalia :) Yes, definitely affordable and easy for sharing.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
I need some time to think, but I'm going to give you a challenge of making a cake out of something really weird....I'll get back to you ;)
Haha. Too late -- already been challenged to make a tomato cake last week by someone (done ;) ).