Healthy AND Delicious Chocolate Cake

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Introduction: Healthy AND Delicious Chocolate Cake

Humana Health by Design Contest

Finalist in the
Humana Health by Design Contest

This is an amazing cake: it contains no fats such as butter, cream, shortening or oil, and no eggs. In spite of these limitations,  it tastes better than any cake mix and than most other chocolate cakes made from scratch.

Spread jam between the layers and decorate with powdered sugar, for a fat free, cholesterol free birthday!

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

1 large beet
1/2 to 1 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour  (alternate: 1 cup whole wheat & 1/2 cup white flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

You will need a blender or a hand held stick blender like the one in the picture.

Step 2: Instructions

Peel and dice beet into 1/2" cubes, and boil until soft. Drain the beets and puree in the food processor with 1/4 cup fresh water.

Preheat oven to 325°F

Put pureed beets into large measuring cup and mix in enough apple sauce to get 2 cups of beet and apple puree. Add vanilla, vinegar, and 2 tbsp water.

Sift all the dry ingredients together then combine with the beet mixture.

Pour in a greased 9" by 13" pan or two 8" round layer pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick pricked into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Step 3: Decoration

I have a great recipe for butter icing enriched with egg yolks -- but it has no place here in the "Health by Design" contest. To keep this cake fat free (OK, OK, almost fat free. Cocoa powder does contain a small amount of fat) you can spread your favorite jam between the layers, then decorate with powdered sugar (which also goes by the names confectioners sugar, caster sugar or icing sugar).

Make a paper doily . Lightly place the pattern over your cake (no need to press down, that will only make it harder to remove) and powder the sugar over the doily. Carefully lift off the paper to reveal your beautiful cake.

One word of warning: powder your cake just before serving. The sugar pattern will be absorbed by this wonderfully moist cake and disappear completely if you decorate it ahead of time.

Step 4: Epilogue: a Cake With Nothing in It

I thought it would be amusing to try to make a fat, egg, gluten AND sugar free cake. My first test, replacing the sugar in this recipe with xylitol was, literally, a flop. Cakes involve very delicate chemical reactions, and granulated sugar has properties which aren't so easy to mimic.... I'm still planning on attempting a gluten free version though, when my kids get over the disappointment caused by this inedible cake.

To learn more about some other things I make, check out Make Anything and Make Anything Pop-Up.



  • Gluten Free Challenge

    Gluten Free Challenge
  • First Time Author Contest 2018

    First Time Author Contest 2018
  • Epilog Challenge 9

    Epilog Challenge 9

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I love that powdered sugar design on the top of the cake. It's beautiful

This looks pretty nice. I wonder if sugar- free strawberry preserves would work instead of the beets?

I'm not sure, but it's worth a shot. A "safer" approach might be to just use more apple sauce if you don't want beets.

Yes, I think I'll try that instead. The preserves would work better maybe as a filling for the cake. Still, I guess I could try the beets. You never know what you might like ;)

Awesome idea! I kind of loathe beets and I made a half batch of this to see if I could still taste them in the finished product... alas, I could. Do you think this would work substituting strawberries for beets? Is the texture similar enough? They're at least as sweet as beets and still quite healthy, but I wasn't sure if there was another reason you had for using beets.

Substituting Kumara (Sweet Potato) for the beets will work great, and it has a smoother texture also. The use of the beets or vegetable is usually to make up for the fact that there is no eggs, or fats in the recipe..I'm thinking strawberries have way too much water content to work. Would be an awesome accompaniment though.

Aeons later, just putting it out there that canned pumpkin makes a good substitute for the beet.

It's worth a try -- but I think strawberries are much more juicy than beets, so it might not work. Substituting ingredients in a cake can be tricky, it's a pretty delicate chemical balance. Maybe cooked carrots?

Oooh, point. The cake was already fantastically moist-- I didn't fancy the taste but you did a spectacular job on the texture. If I do strawberries I suppose I'd have to cut out the extra water and maybe have to add a bit more cornstarch to balance it. Cooked carrots is a good thought too, though! Perhaps I'll try two tiny batches, one with each, and see what happens?

Yeah, I've done a lot of traditional baking but I'm just now getting into crazy substitutions so I don't have a great grip on the chemistry yet. Hence I was trying to figure out why beets so I knew what properties to look for in a substitute. Sooo... why beets?

I love beets, but I'm the only one in my family who does, so I found this way to disguise them. Though they won't eat beets, my kids will devour this cake... In addition to liking their taste, they give the cake a beautiful, rich color....