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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake

Right around my second year of law school, I developed a deep obsession with flourless chocolate cake. I would get a slice from Whole Foods, pop it in the fridge and have a fork standing by to just take a forkful (or three) every few hours or whenever the mood strikes. I think part of the obsession had more to do with my confidence in the food-as-positive-reinforcement-rewards-program I implemented while studying 12-15+ hours a day. Flourless chocolate cake is really quite sexy when you think about it—its dense in texture, and incredibly rich, silky, and chocolatey. I was pretty surprised when I found out that it only contained four simple ingredients: chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs.

Only problem with that scenario was the “butter, sugar, and eggs” part if I wanted to keep eating it as frequently as I honestly did want to keep eating it without such a grave catastrophy to my health. Since beans have become quite trendy in desserts (think black bean brownies), I figured I would set out to make a vegan flourless chocolate cake. With black-eyed peas. Yes! It can be done! First, you must accept—in your heart of hearts—that you do, in fact, LOVE the texture and flavor of beans. Because if you do not, there is no amount of flavor or ingredient masking that could save you from the cold hard truth that there are beans mixed with your chocolate. I understand-I feel strange about it, too.
At first, I thought there was no way this cake would rise even a millimeter—it was so thick and heavy. But ah, the power of baking powder and soda. (Speaking of baking soda, I hope you aren’t reaching for that 7-month—or even 1-year-old (gasp!) stale box of baking soda you have sitting in the back of your fridge to “absorb odors” thinking you can do double duty by absorbing nasty refrigerator odors and for use in baking…because, guess what, that baking soda will be lifeless and yes, full of your refrigerator odors which cannot be a good flavor for your baked goods! I have to admit that I was guilty of doing this until the light-bulb went on making my mistake was painfully obvious). In the oven, the cake lifted itself up just like a souffle, and then, when slightly cooled, it gave way to gorgeous cracks around its edges with rugged valleys and ridges.


2 cups dried black eyed peas (soaked overnight, rinsed then boiled till soft)
1 12-oz. package silken tofu (I like Mori-Nu brand)
1 cup cane sugar (all natural)
1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural, unsweetened)
2 tsp. instant espresso powder (or 3 if you really like a little coffee flavor)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup soymilk (chocolate soymilk, if you have it)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a blender or food processor, blend together the black-eyed peas with the tofu until smooth. You may have to do this in batches, but it is critical that you get it as smooth as possible. If you need to, you can use some of the soymilk to help loosen it up and blend better.
Add the sugar and blend again.
Over a double boiler (or pot with a small amount of water and a glass bowl sitting in it), melt down the chocolate chips until smooth.
Add the melted chocolate to the bean mixture and blend again.
Add in the cocoa, espresso, baking powder and soda and blend again until smooth.
Add in the soymilk to loosen up the batter. You can use a little bit less if you want to—Ideally, the batter should be smooth and slightly runny when pouring but this depends on the quality of your blender or food processor. My beans stayed a little chunky so I had to resort to a hand mixer to really smooth it out--the soymilk really helps this process.
Lightly spray a 9-inch spring form pan (or larger if you like a thinner cake) with cooking/baking spray.
Bake in oven for 70-80 minutes (or a little less if your cake is thinner) or until done. You can check it with a toothpick or knife to see if the center is still runny. Even when cooked and a toothpick comes out clean, it might still wiggle a little bit because the warm cake needs to settle into itself once cooled.

Serving Suggestion: Lightly dust with confectioners sugar.

Note: If you make this cake and, like me, find yourself oddly enamoured by the beguiling duo of beans and cake, you could also try my vegan friend Lindsay's White Bean Strawberry Blondie's.

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