I’m a sucker for chocolate cake. And a double sucker for chocolate cake with interesting and unusual ingredients. So when I opened October’s Runner’s World and saw a recipe for a chocolate cake that featured applesauce, black beans, oat flour, and agave syrup, I knew it was only a matter of time before it appeared on our table.
Today, time was up. And Manchild was my partner in baking, as he so often is. He was kind enough to taste-test some of the ingredients for me, which he has become proficient at. Applesauce always gets the thumbs up from my boys, and for some reason they are always digging their hands into my oats as well, then shoveling them into their mouths as if they were honey nut cheerios or something. Close enough, I guess. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) some of the oats spilled on the floor and while Manchild cleaned it up, I managed to mix the rest of the ingredients without small, saliva covered fingers burrowing into them.
When he was done, we both tasted the batter and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I don’t think Manchild was surprised in the least. It was a chocolate batter. Of course it was going to be good.
Now, this is not my first experience with the black beans/agave syrup combination. The brownies I made last February were also quite tasty and I recommend giving them a shot if cake just isn’t your thing. However, I will say that the cake does taste a bit like it is trying to be good for you. If you like your cakes to be unabashed indulgences, this may not be your thing. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind such things, or your child will eat anything called “cake” and you are looking for ways to sneak more protein, fruits, and whole grains into her diet, this could be your new friend.
Long Run Chocolate Cake adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado’s recipe in the October 2011 Runner’s World (It is called “Long-Run Cake” because it is an excellent snack to grab before going on a long run.)
I halved the recipe because I didn’t have enough cocoa to make a full batch. I also cooked it in an 8×8 inch pan rather than in a mini-loaf pan, as the original recipe suggests. I think the full recipe would make good cupcakes, or be great baked in a 9×13 cake pan. The tricky thing is adjusting the cooking time for such things. The mini-loaf version says 20-25 minutes. My 8×8 inch pan was done in 28 minutes (I could have taken it out a minute or two sooner). A cupcake version would probably be done in 15-18 minutes, and a 9×13 might take 30-35 minutes. But don’t take my word for it. Set your timer and check it. The cake is done when it springs back when lightly touched. Sorry to be so uncertain. I’m doing my best.
1 cup applesauce
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained (or about 2 cups cooked beans if you cook your own)
1 ½ cups oat flour (I made my own oat flour by blending up some quick oats in our Blendtec. Whole wheat or all-purpose flour would be a fine substitute, I’m sure.)
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup water (or coffee, if you are into that sort of thing)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor, blend the applesauce and beans. In a bowl, whisk the oat flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the agave syrup and eggs until light and foamy. Reduce mixer speed to medium slow and pour in water (or coffee); mix until combined. Add bean-and-applesauce mixture and vanilla to the egg mixture. Beat until combined. Add oat-cocoa mixture all at once. Beat on low until just moist, then increase speed and beat until smooth, 30 seconds. Pour into the greased pan or pans of choice. Cupcake and mini-loaf pans should be filled 3/4 full. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, approximately 15-18 minutes for cupcakes, 20-25 minutes for a mini loaf, 25-30 for an 8×8 pan, or 30-35 for a 9×13 pan. Let cool completely before serving.
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
The original recipe says this is optional. I would say it is recommended. It’s pretty darn good and I would be happy to use it on just about anything — cake, cookies, crackers, apples. Also, I made a 1/4 batch and it turned out to be just the right amount for my 1/2 recipe of cake.
2 8-ounce packages organic cream cheese
¼ cup agave syrup
¼ cup organic, natural-style, creamy peanut butter
pinch of salt
In a clean bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, agave, peanut butter, and pinch salt until smooth. If the mixture is too soupy, refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Spread on the cooled cake.