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.