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.

There are at least 146 scientifically established reasons to avoid sugar. (Watch this video if you are interested.)

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.

THE BEANS

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.

Unfrosted

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.

FROSTING
Melt
4 oz unsweetened chocolate

with
2 tbsp unsweetened ricemilk/soymilk/milk

Blend to a puree
1 oz organic raisins
with
another 2 tbsp ricemilk/soymilk/milk
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (or orange juice)

add
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.

- bee

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28 Comments

  1. [...] Flourless, Sugarless Chocolate-Bean Cake [...]

  2. M says:

    Wow! What a recipe! Must say you are a very smart cook/ foodie. I am impressed by your knowledge and usability of good food. Love this succulent cake. :) Will try n let you know.
    M

  3. Sonia says:

    Since it sugarless, I would definitely give a try soon. I’ve everything in my pantry with beans (not canned). Just need to buy coconut oil. I know i can substitute with butter but this time I want to try it coconut oil. I’m curious about the final product and taste.
    One Q though: how about organic molasses? Does it impact to the taste of cake?
    Superb recipe! Thanks so much for sharing with us. Look quite delicious! :)

  4. Rosa says:

    A delicious looking cake! Very unusual!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. I’m very impressed with your commitment to avoiding sugar and artificial sweeteners, and the cake looks amazing.

  6. archana says:

    I read your posts regularly and am trying to detox my systems (and my pantry) and adopt a more healthful natural food lifestyle. Im also diabetic so trying to reverse my condition by adopting a vegan diet that I hope to embark onto it next week.
    Question for you is, if you have eliminated most foods the rest of us are familiar with, what is it that you eat everyday? Im trying to come up with a food/recipe list so I dont starve on the vegan diet but feel a bit overwhelmed given the limitations it will impose (Ive been vegetarian my whole life btw)!

    • jai bee says:

      i eat everything except dairy, sugar, refined flours, refined oils, meat and fish. some times, i may eat organic eggs, but i will probably eliminate those soon.

      there are a lot of things i eat. i don’t think of what i can’t eat. i think of all the things i can eat, which is about 90% of what most people eat – fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, 80% dark chocolate. what else does one need?

  7. archana says:

    and I thought Agave nectar was ok – until I read this post!
    Is there anything one can eat! :D

  8. Sunita says:

    Now, that is one guilt free cake; thanks for sharing :-)

  9. Shriya says:

    What a guilt free recipe. I had a question regarding the use of orange. Since Im tempted to try this recipe immediately and dont have any oranges on hand, can I sub it with any other fruit like pineapple or applesauce etc?

  10. M says:

    Wow, I m also surprised reading about agave nectar!

    Bee, how do u sweeten ur tea/ coffee/ decaf if u had to have it a little sweet? I was using raw sugar/ agave nectar. And am trying to move away from the sugar disaster.

    Also I loved ur columns on the flour and sweetner audit.

  11. shoba says:

    Very tempting , Bee!! Will try it out in the coming weeks.Me loves anything without sugar in it.Yummo!

  12. krithika says:

    Each time I visit your blog I learn something new. Have added this recipe to my must-try list :)

  13. Aparna says:

    Had seen this cake and bookmarked it. Good to hear it endorsed. Now I know I should make it.

  14. PreeOccupied says:

    Very innovative! That’s why I keep coming back here…

  15. Ricki says:

    Looks like a lovely cake! I wish you’d also included a photo of a cut piece. . . would love to see the inside.

  16. Anu Menon says:

    u haven’t had sugar in 2 months??? please live with me so i can get used to it… i cant stay away frm sugar for 2 min and im either gonna lose all my teeth or explode from fat!

  17. char says:

    Hey!!!

    This looks awesome… can you give me an egg substitute for silken tofu? im too lazy to look for it here in mumbai..is it easily available? can i just use the cottage cheese we make at home by curdling milk?

  18. purpleque says:

    That looks so good.

    Now I want cake at work.

  19. Aimee DeGagne says:

    I wanted to thank you for putting all of these good looking recipes here in one place. My mother in law has Fibromyalgia and is trying to stop eating all refined foods and I think your outlook will be invaluable to her in the future. Thanks.

  20. Claudia says:

    wow you are so ON it! I was just sniffing around the internet for a healthy black bean recipe I could make and instead of using sugar or agave I was going to try to use my Nu Stevia. But this is incredible. What integrity! I’m going to have to hit the health food store before I try to make any brownies — I need good prunes and raisins…and I’ll look and see what else you call for here that I don’t have. This is so appealing to me because I had breast cancer a couple of years ago and with all the hormonal changes that came with it, I found myself with a true love of sugar for the first time. And now sugar is more dangerous to me than ever. What to do. I finally settled on using mostly stevia (I like the Nu) when I’m willing to take care of myself, but I see there is another way. Really, truly cool website and recipe. Thanks!



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