As surprising as it might sound, baked goods are not really my vice. I love baking cakes and pies and cookies, but once I’ve had a few bites of my creation, I’m satisfied. That’s why it gives me such pleasure to bake for other people. Other chocolate-loving, dessert-devouring, sweet tooth-having people.
My boyfriend and I recently hosted a birthday party for his sister, who has some dietary restrictions: she doesn’t eat refined sugar, dairy or gluten. I firmly believe that birthdays should never be celebrated sans cake of some sort, so I took this occasion as a challenge to create something that was safe for Alex’s sister to eat and truly delicious for those of us who are used to eating “regular” cake.
What I hit upon is a recipe I’m genuinely so excited to share. I started by making super-moist chocolate cake (scroll down to see the surprise ingredients I used instead of butter and eggs). Then, I crumbled the cake and rolled it with a generous scoop of caramel made from dates. I dipped the whole thing in dark chocolate and topped them with crushed, roasted almonds for a toothsome finishing touch.
Everything-Free Cake Balls
adapted from Minimalist Baker
• 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 2 large flax eggs (2 heaping Tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp water)
• 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
• 3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/3 cup honey, plus 3 Tbsp more
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 8 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
• 12 medjool dates
• roasted almonds, roughly chopped
2. Using coconut oil, lightly grease a muffin pan. Rinse and drain the black beans, then rinse and rain them again.
3. Make the flax eggs (thank you to Minimalist Baker for teaching me this sorcery) by combining flaxseed meal and water in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times and then let rest for a few minutes.
4. Add black beans, coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, honey and baking powder into the blender and blend for about three minutes. Scrape down the sides a few time during the process, so everything is incorporated really well.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides. Remove from the oven and let cool for an least 30 minutes.
7. While the cake cools, it’s time to make our caramel. Add the pitted dates to your cleaned, food processor or blender. Pulse until the dates are in small bits.
8. Stream in to water and keep blending until the dates form a paste. Scrape down the sides periodically. You’ll probably need to blend for a good few minutes to form a caramel-like paste. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt at the end.
9. Now, to put it all together! Melt the dark chocolate with 3 Tbsp honey plus a little bit of coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Stir in between each session, being careful not to overheat as it will scorch the chocolate.
10. Remove one piece of cake from the muffin tin, then scoop a tablespoon of date caramel into the middle. Fold the edges of the cake up around the caramel and roll in the palm of your hand to form a sphere. This part is super messy, but that’s part of the fun.
11. Using a spoon, dip the cake ball into the melted chocolate, then place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with chopped almonds to finish.
12. Repeat until you’re done with all the cake bites, then marvel at the fact that the delicious dessert you just made doesn’t have any dairy, refined sugar or gluten in it.
Trust me when I tell you that you absolutely cannot taste the black beans in this dessert—all you get from the surprise legumes is a super fudgy texture that feels much more decadent than it is. I can’t wait for y’all to try these and discover how good they are. They’re perfect for parties because they’re free of all the usual dietary suspects! Such a great recipe to have in your arsenal.