A block of luscious unsweetened chocolate several months old – too bitter to eat on its own. Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Chestnut Cake sounds wonderful. But then, I don’t have chestnuts. But I do have a can of black beans. How about replacing the chestnuts with beans? I’m such a genius.
Ummm… not really. Annie @ Bon Appegeek has tried it already. Two of her readers did too, and they claim it’s the ultimate in decadence and molten chocolatey fudginess without the tiniest hint of beaniness. (Or is that beanitude?)
Wait. That recipe has lots of sugar. We don’t eat sugar. Or artificial sweeteners. Or dextrose, or sorbitol, or anything ending with “ose” or “ol”. It’s been two months. Zero sugar. Period. Two wonderful months without feeling like a frog on steroids. Or a Bajaj scooter on jet fuel.
Those reasons become irrelevant when you stop craving or even liking sweets. I have re-calibrated my system so that the tiniest bit of sugar, even in whole-wheat bread or in a Chinese sauce, now tastes cloyingly disgusting. It also makes my energy level seesaw and affects my recovery after a hard workout. I’m finely tuned to the oxidative stress it causes my system. I am not averse to occasionally using stevia or lo han (monk fruit extract), but fruit is my first choice for sweetening anything from ice creams and popsicles to smoothies.
SUGAR vs. FRUIT
Sugar is half glucose, half fructose. The natural sugar in fruit is primarily fructose which comes packaged with flavonoids, phytonutrients and fiber that make its metabolism a slow and safe process.
For instance, there is a study that shows that having fruit juice makes an otherwise unhealthy meal less toxic.
Eating foods containing flavonoids — orange juice, in this case — along with a high-fat, high-carbohydrate fast-food meal neutralizes the oxidative and inflammatory stress generated by the unhealthy food and helps prevent blood vessel damage, a new study by University at Buffalo endocrinologists shows. (Source)
There’s another study that found a statistically significant increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer among those who had two more more soft drinks a week (sweetened with sugar). Those who drank fruit juice instead had no increased risk.
Neat, isolated fructose found in high fructose corn syrup and agave nectar is toxic to the system. It can wreak havoc on liver function and lead to metabolic syndrome. It’s the nutrients and minerals in fruit that make the fructose in it metabolise differently.
We don’t drink fruit juice or use it in recipes ‘cos it’s too darn sweet and calorie-dense. An 8-oz. apple juice has roughly twice the sugar but less than one-tenth the fibre of a medium-sized apple. We prefer whole/dried fruit for baking because
- More fruit fibre = lower glycemic load
- More fruit fibre = moister cake = less added fat
- Fruitier cake = more flavour
- More fruit = fewer cavities
This cake has an orange, some dates and lots of raisins that are actually good for your teeth.
Compounds found in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry. (Source)
Yes, I’m a nutrition Nazi, but really, this cake is melt-in-your-mouth luscious and quite sweet. While being sugar-free, it doesn’t have the synthetic flavour one gets from artificial sweeteners. Plus, I was able to lower the added fat from nine tablespoons to six. This cake doesn’t need any frosting, but I had some more chocolate to use up, so I made some. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free and can be made eggless (see substitutions below).
I like to bake things long and slow at 300F and this cake took an hour and 15 minutes in my convection oven. It may take even longer in a regular oven.
FLOURLESS SUGARLESS CHOCOLATE-BEAN CAKE
EGGLESS (VEGAN) VERSION
Replace the 6 eggs in the recipe with 1.5 cups silken tofu. Add half tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder to the batter. I haven’t tried this, but the next time I will. There’s no reason it shouldn’t work.
They are a nutritious gluten-free alternative to the flour in most cakes.
You can use any beans in your pantry – red beans, white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas. I use black beans because they have the highest amount of protein and fiber – 15 grams per cooked cup of each, compared to between 10 to 12 grams for other types of beans. Also, the darker the bean, the richer it is in certain antioxidants. If using canned, try and use low-sodium and rinse them well. If using soaked and cooked beans, add 1/4 tsp salt to the recipe.
6 oz organic raisins (see note below on the sweetness level)
3 oz pitted dates
1 cup peeled and diced orange (about 1 navel orange)
1/2 cup “milk” (rice, soy or regular)
1-425 gm can of low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
**or 1 and 2/3 cups cooked beans plus 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp coffee liquor (or dark rum/Cognac)
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
**or 1.5 cups silken tofu plus half tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder
half tsp lemon juice (or cream of tartar)
8 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or butter)
THE SWEETNESS LEVEL
I used unsweetened chocolate, but if you use semisweet or bittersweet, reduce the amount of raisins to 4 or 5 oz. It also depends on the type of raisin. I used dark California raisins.
Experiment with the amount. If your cake is sweet enough, don’t frost it. Taste the batter before baking. If it isn’t sweet enough, add some stevia or sweetener of choice to the batter before baking. Or simply make the frosting sweeter.
1. If you don’t have a heavy-duty blender, soak the raisins and dates in the half cup ricemilk/soymilk for 30 minutes first. If you have a heavy-duty blender, first add the raisins, dates, orange and ricemilk, blend to a smooth paste.
2. Preheat oven to 300F convection setting or 325F regular setting with a shelf in the middle. Prepare a square brownie pan or a 9×13 rectangular pan by putting foil in each direction so that you can just “lift” the cake off when it’s done. Or oil it and dust it with cocoa powder. I prefer the foil method.
3. Separate the eggs. Keep the egg whites aside. Add the yolks to the blender along with the beans, the coffee liquor, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Blend again until smooth. If using tofu, add it now and blend along with the baking powder and baking soda.
4. Melt the chocolate and extra virgin coconut oil in a microwave in a glass bowl, stirring at 30-second intervals. Put the melted chocolate mixture into the blender and blend everything together. If you’re using tofu, the batter is ready to bake.
5. Beat the egg whites along with the lemon juice/cream of tartar until they form stiff, glossy peaks.
IF YOU GET YOLK IN YOUR EGG WHITES
If you’re always in a hurry like I am and don’t separate the egg whites and yolks properly, you may get some yellow in the whites. If that happens, no matter how much you beat the whites, you will be stuck at soft peaks. You will not get stiff peaks and your cake will not be as light. Don’t worry.
You can choose not to beat the whites at all, dump them in with the rest of the stuff and make brownies instead of a cake. It will be as delicious. Or you can beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and add half tsp baking soda and 3/4 tsp baking powder to the batter.
6. Bake at 300F in a convection setting, or 325 in a regular setting. It took me an hour and 15 minutes until a tester in the middle came out clean. Your mileage may vary. Check at the 50-minute mark. When the cake is done, there will be a crack on top.
Like all flourless cakes, it’s best to let the cake cool and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to set properly before attempting to peel off the foil and cut it.
The frosting is optional, but oh so good. This makes a super-thin layer. You can double the recipe to make a thicker layer.
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp unsweetened ricemilk/soymilk/milk
Blend to a puree
1 oz organic raisins
another 2 tbsp ricemilk/soymilk/milk
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (or orange juice)
half tsp almond or vanilla extract and
2 oz powdered almonds.
Blend everything together. Thin it out with a tsp or two of water if you need to.
Spread the frosting, garnish with nuts or berries and serve.
Filed Under: Almond, Beans-(Dried), Black, cake, Chocolate, Coffee, coffee-liqueur, Date, Eggs, gluten-free, NUTRITION, Orange, Raisin, silken tofu, Soy/Tofu/Tempeh, Vanilla, vegan recipes, vegetarian recipes