Black Bean Chocolate Cake © 2010 theCrackerBoxKitchen. All rights reserved.

Black Bean Chocolate Cake

Yep, that’s right. Chocolate cake made with black beans… from a can! And not a grain of flour to be seen!

I first discovered this recipe about 5 years ago and made it for for my then boyfriend (now husband’s) birthday. It was a roaring success!   The original recipe has since had multiple incarnations and what you see here is what I consider the “perfected” version.

For example, I use to use butter-flavoured Crisco(!), which is great for makin’ biscuits, but I’ve since discovered that coconut oil (or plane ol’ butter) is so much better for this recipe. I also used to use regular Hershey’s cocoa… but man oh man does the Special Dark make it look and taste like black gold.  Oh, and the very first time I made this cake, the plan was to make a center layer of coffee flavoured icecream. Let’s just say that Baskin Robbin’s is working some kind of magic juju on their cakes because my “attempt” was a melted pool of coffee ice cream in the bottom of the freezer!

This cake has been with us for every one of T’s birthdays since, and a few others in between. She even made an appearance at our wedding, topped with a cute little bride and groom and was the actual cake that we cut! (see photos below)

I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I have. And if you find a different way to make it,  fee free to “make it” your own!


-1  15oz can of unseasoned black beans (OR 1 1/2 cup cooked
beans, any color)
-5 large eggs
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted  (or unsalted butter, melted)
-1 cup sugar
-6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (= 1/3 cup + 1 TBS)  (I prefer Hershey’s Special Dark)
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 tablespoon water

Note: this recipe only makes one 9″ layer cake, or two 6″ rounds.  Double recipe to make two 9″ round layers. (Or just make a small batch of cup cakes.)

How To

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line with parchment (parchment is your friend! Trust me– it took me forever to learn this, but now I never bake without it!)  and spray rim and parchment with Baker’s Joy (it truly is a joy. Life changing even.) A quick spray under the parchment will keep it in place.

Drain and rinse beans in a colander;  shake off excess water. Add beans, eggs, vanilla, water, salt, and sugar into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquified. No lumps!

Next, pop the top off that hole in the blender lid and slowly pour in the coconut oil while the blender is on a low setting.  You’re basically making an emulsion (think Hollandaise sauce), which I think makes a really smooth, silky batter.

Then, with the blender still on, slowly add your cocoa and baking powder. Blend until smooth.

Pour batter into pan(s). It will be slightly thinner than “normal” cake batter.  Grab the edges of the pan and whap it on the counter a few times– you’ll see the air bubbles pop.  This final step really matters, so don’t forget!

Now, when it comes to bake times for this cake, unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule. I usually make this cake as two 6″ in rounds, so I start the time at 30 minutes, then add time at 3-5 minute increments until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Sometimes that means one round comes out at 40 minutes, and the other at 45.  But trust me, checking the cake often and pulling whichever one bakes first is worth it for a deliciously moist cake!

When cakes are done, remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn the cake out on a cooling rack and let cool completely before icing.

T blowing out candelsMocha Icing
-2 cups powdered sugar
-6 tablespoons coconut oil* or butter, melted
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup (8TBS) cocoa powder
-1/3 cup hot coffee
-1/8 teaspoon salt

Melting the coconut oil/butter is a bit unconventional, but I think it makes for a super smooth, silky frosting.

Place sugar, cocoa, and pinch of salt in mixing bowl and stir with a spoon to incorporate.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the hot coffee and vanilla, then slowly add the melted coconut oil or butter. Continue to mix until frosting is smooth. Allow frosting to come to room temperature before using. If frosting is lumpy, transfer to a microwave safe bowl and zap it for a 10-20 seconds, then return to mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

*I have learned the hard way that coconut oil does not a good icing make in the summer months. Or really any time the temperature is or might rise above 76°. To remedy this, use 1/2 coconut oil 1/2 butter. The icing might have a different sheen, but it sure beats having melted icing running everywhere.

Recipe Source: adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, (c) 1989
cutting the cake


  1. T-Bone

    Oh my god, that was the best cake EVER! So moist! So chocolatey! Not beany!

    I would rate that a step above any cake I’ve had out in a restaurant, fancy or otherwise. And the icing was yummy, too.

    Thanks for making it my official birthday cake, gives me something to look forward to that trumps the whole “getting older” thing.

  2. Valentina

    ¡Excelente receta!
    excellent recipe was a hit in my house

  3. valerie

    your recipe and cake look amazing.. what would you recommend if i wanted to cut the sugar back in the actual cake. i’m making a black bean chocolate cake for my nephew but it has to be diabetic friendly for the grandparents.

    • theCrackerBoxKitchen

      Hi! I’m sorry that this reply is so belated! I’ve been away from my blog for a few months. To answer your question: you can substitute the sugar with 1/4-1/3 cup honey + 1 teaspoon bulk stevia (the kind specifically labeled “for baking”, not the kind in packets), OR 1 cup Splenda. Note that either of these may alter the taste of the cake slightly, the Splenda in particular. (I personally find the taste of Splenda a bit cloying.) Hopefully this will help for next time!

  4. Linda

    Can I use a food processor instead of a blender for this recipe?

    • theCrackerBoxKitchen

      I don’t see why not. Just make sure that the “liquid fill line” on your food processor is at least 4 cups, if not more (there should be a visible line marked on the bowl of your processor). Otherwise, you’ll have a mess on your hands! Still proceed with caution– the last thing you want is for your batter to overflow your food processor! Happy Baking!

  5. I am going to have to make this!

  6. Kate

    Could you sub flax eggs?

    • theCrackerBoxKitchen

      Hi– I don’t have any experience with vegan cooking, so I can’t speak to the viability of flaxseed as an egg substitute, especially when substituting this many eggs. With zero gluten, the eggs really are the “glue” that hold it all together! I’ve actually been wanting to test a vegan version with flaxseed, but haven’t done so yet. If you try it and have good results, please comment back and let me know!

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