Rachel Khoo


Posted by Rachel

February 9th, 2015

Recipe: Vegan Cocoa Bean Cake

Rachel Khoo Vegan Cocoa Bean Cake recipe

I don’t often get invited to dinner parties (the curse of being a professional cook) but when I do, the invite is usually a bittersweet one. More often than not I’m asked to bring a dish, usually pudding. On one occasion the hostess asked me if I could make a chocolate cake. Sure, not a problem, I said. She later disclosed that the cake in question needed to be vegan and gluten-, nut- and refined-sugar free.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I came up with this delicious, dense cocoa bean cake, which makes a perfect pudding for the pickiest dinner dates.

Vegan valentine’s cocoa bean cake (serves 8-10)


For the cake 

240g cooked black beans (or 1 x 400g can black beans, drained)
100g dates, pitted
175ml vegetable or coconut oil
80g ground flaxseeds
80g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g maple or carob syrup
1 tsp salt

For the icing

2 very ripe avocados
4 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp carob or maple syrup


1) Preheat the oven to 180C (fan). In a food processor, blend the beans, dates and oil together to a smooth paste. Add the other ingredients and blend until everything is well incorporated.

2) Pour into a 20cm cake tin lined with baking paper and use a palette knife or spoon to smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes in the centre of the oven or until a skewer comes out clean.

3) Leave to cool on a wire rack before placing carefully on a serving plate (it breaks easily).

4) To make the icing, scoop the avocados out of their skin and blend in a food processor with the other icing ingredients. Adjust the syrup to taste. Use a palette knife to spread over the top of the cake. The cake will keep in an airtight container for several days.

This recipe originally appeared in my weekly Evening Standard column.

If you liked this recipe, then head over to my new project Khoollect and try out these gingerbread and chocolate bites.

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22 thoughts on “Recipe: Vegan Cocoa Bean Cake

  1. my partner and i LUV your vibe, we watch the little french kitchen every chance we get…jillian’s sister will love this new cake and i’m in constant amazment at how i look at the food we have inherited and the food that we should eat that is better for our bodies and BIO-DIVERSITY…i’ve stopped eating white sugar and only buy and eat raw honey from our local bee keeper…and have discovered the benefits of turmeric + raw honey…agent 99 makes me a red-velvet cake on my birthday with coco-vin and i luv that king of eating but we generally eat stuff grown from our garden, organic but not always as good looking as your dishes…to this day my all time favourite dinner with no more than 6 guests is venison saluted with fresh cherries and thyme paid with a pinot noir…ha…!!!



  2. Hi Rachel, the cake looks delicious. I’m going to try it but I am not sure I understand the part that says “240g cooked black beans (or 1 x 400g can black beans, drained)”… thought the beans in cans were cooked? Why is the quantity almost double? (Too many beans will spoil the cake ;))THANKS and stay awesome!

  3. hi rachel

    your recipe looks great – just wanted to check whether the raising agents should be level or heaped teaspoons?

    many thanks


  4. Hi Rachel!

    I’m following the Genotype diet from Dr D’Adamo and I always have to tweak recipes to be compliant, but the result is never really the same…

    However, your recipe is 100% compliant with my diet!!!!

    I will definitely bake that cake sooner rather than later 😀

    I hope you’ll develop a lot more of vegan and gluten-, nut- and refined-sugar free recipes !


  5. Rachel
    Thank you so much for this awesome delicious recipe that hits the chocolate cake spot and the fudgy brownie spot with no naughty ingredients! What more can anyone ask for?
    As an egg, dairy, wheat free person who wants cake Im indebted to you. X

  6. Rachel
    Thank you so much for this awesome delicious recipe that hits the chocolate cake spot and the fudgy brownie spot with no naughty ingredients! What more can anyone ask for?
    As an egg, dairy, wheat free person who wants cake Im indebted to you. X

    1. Hi Cormac, I haven’t tried the recipe with ground almonds instead of flaxseeds. I think you potentially might be able to get away with it. The cake might be more of a pudding. If you do try it out, please let me know. I would be very interested in knowing whether it works or not. Thanks!

  7. Just made your cake today. I think 80g of cocoa is too much. I added some tahini and orange peel in the icing and tasted awesome. Maybe some orange peel would do for the cake as well, to give it a fresh taste. I decorated it with chocolate covered orange peel, turned out great!

    1. Hi Roxana, Thanks for trying the recipe. The tahini and orange peel additions sound delicious. Yes you could definitely add orange peel to the cake. I can imagine the cake decorated with chocolate covered orange peel looked beautiful. Happy Baking!

  8. Hi Rachel,

    I just saw you cook this on TV, but I could swear you blended the dates with coffee? Just wondering quantity, unless I imagined it!

    Anyways want to make this for my vegan partner, looks fantastic!

    1. Hi Jesse

      You’re right! The TV recipe has the extra addition of 90ml espresso or very strong black coffee. It’s optional but does add a little extra note. Happy Baking!

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