Friday 27 April 2012

Birthday Black Bean Chocolate Cake with Coconut Meringue Frosting & Passion Fruit Curd

It was my birthday on Tuesday and I turned 25. Yikes, I feel like I’m getting old! I still remember turning 16 and feeling that was so grown up, but that was now nearly 10 years ago – scary!

I had been thinking through various different cake options to bake for my birthday and had almost settled on a carrot cake concoction, when I saw a recipe for black bean chocolate cake that just grabbed my attention completely and blew all other cake options out the water. I’d heard of black bean brownies, but never seen them used in a cake before. The cake looked so rich and decadent and was naturally gluten free as the beans replaced all the flour! I had found my birthday cake!

I had the cake layers for my birthday cake but still needed to decide on what to pair with it – chocolate, coffee, peanut butter, vanilla, caramel, cherries…I then remembered I had a jar of passion fruit curd sitting in the cupboard that my aunt had bought back from France for me. The idea of the sharp fruity passion fruit against the chocolate cake really appealed to me. Staying on the tropical theme I decided to make a simple meringue frosting, flavoured and decorated with coconut to give it twist.

Half way through making the beany cake layers I was a little unsure how they would turn out. After blitzing the beans with the eggs and sugar it smelt distinctly savoury and earthy and not at all like a sweet chocolate cake. I decided to press on anyway and by the end of the mixing process a delicious rich chocolate fluffy batter had been created that resembled soft chocolate mousse. It looked much more appealing and the raw batter tasted wonderful, no hint of beans!

Once baked, cooled and assembled I was really pleased with how the cake turned out. I loved the contrast between the dark cake and the snow white frosting. The flavours were also wonderfully contrasting. Rich chocolate cake, sharp and tangy passion fruit curd and then super sweet coconut meringue.

The cake was dense in texture, but deliciously moist. A cross between a brownie and flourless chocolate cake. I didn’t tell anyone what the secret ingredient was and tried to make them guess. No one did until I started giving them huge hints, but everyone agreed it was delicious. I’ll certainly make the cake layers again, maybe pairing them with raspberries or cherries next time, or a bitter coffee ganache for an extra indulgent adult dessert!

You may well be sceptical about adding beans to your cake, but give it a go and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Black Bean Chocolate Cake with Coconut Meringue Frosting & Passion Fruit Curd
Recipe adapted from Chocolate and Carrots blog
Black Bean Chocolate Cake
1 400g can black beans (240g drained weight)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
60g butter
155g caster sugar
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Coconut Meringue Frosting
1 egg white
100g caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp coconut extract
25ml water (or coconut water)

To Assemble
2 tbsp passion fruit curd (or any other curd of your choice)
2 tbsp desiccated coconut

Black Bean Chocolate Cake
Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line the base of two 6 inch round cake tins.
Drain and rinse the black beans under running water. Place into a food processor along with 2 eggs, vanilla and the sugar. Blitz until well combined and the beans are broken down. Scrape down the sides once or twice if necessary. There will be a few tiny bits of bean skin visible, but this is fine.
Make sure your butter is soft, and then blitz into the bean mixture, followed by the two eggs. It will split, but don’t worry.
In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add to the bean mixture and blitz again to incorporate. It should turn wonderfully chocolaty, thick and mousse-like in consistency.
Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 25-35 minutes. They will be risen and springy to the touch.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tins, by which time they will relax and sink down to form an even layer. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

Coconut Meringue Frosting
Heat a pan filled with about 2 inches of water over a low heat, until it just comes to a simmer. Lightly whisk all the ingredients, expect the coconut extract together in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over the top of the saucepan (it shouldn’t touch the water) and whisk continuously until the mixture reaches 160F/75C on a sugar thermometer. It should have turned white by this stage.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the mixture vigorously with an electric mixer until thick, glossy and tripled in volume. It should feel cool to the touch and will take 4-5 minutes.
Whisk in the coconut extract.
Use immediately, as it will harden if left.

To Assemble
Place one cake layer on a serving place and spread over the passion fruit curd. Blob on some of the meringue frosting and spread out into an even layer.
Top with the second cake layer and use the rest of the frosting to ice the top of the cake.
Toast the desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan until lightly golden and then scatter over the top of the cake to decorate.
Leave to set for 30minutes before serving.
Best eaten within 2 days, after which the meringue frosting starts to break down.
Makes 1 x 6inch cake


Cupcake Crazy Gem said...

Oh wow this looks completely amazing! passion fruit curd and coconut meringue frosting? YUM! Can I ask you where you got your coconut extract from? I've wanted some for aaages! I have been black bean baking before too but am never quite sure of it but if you insist that it was a tasty cake then I may just have to give it a try! Happy belated birthday, hope it was a great one!

Katie said...

Hi Gem,

I got the coconut extract from an asian supermarket. They had all kinds including pear, rum and cinnamon. Wish I'd got more!

Joy said...

Happy Birthday Katie!

Sending you warmest wishes for a beautiful birthday and a phenomenal year to come! I never realized we were the same age! I guess along with our passion for baking, it's one more thing we have in common.

Your creativity never ceases to amaze me- I never would have been brave enough to try something as different as cake made from black beans, let alone have thought to pair it with passion fruit curd and coconut. The end result was certainly worthy of a very special celebration!

In response to your other reader's question, I have a great source for all-natural extracts (as well as many other gourmet products)- Spices, Etc. They're actually known for their coconut extract, as it was rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated. I can absolutely vouch for it (and multiple other flavors... they have a huge selection) which blow all supermarket flavorings out of the water. Here's a link:

I wanted to let you know I just jumped back into the world of food blogging, and I'd love it if you'd stop by my site and say hello whenever you get a chance! I also wanted to check in with you and see if you're any closer to allowing new (and old) CSB members back into the group. I truly hope you'll allow me to take part again in the future.

I hope all your birthday wishes come true! Looking forward to hearing from you!


Caroline said...

Katie, that looks like a stunning cake. I have seen black beans used in baking a couple of times before but this is definitely the best cake I've seen! I love the sound of all those flavours combined together - I don't know how you dream them all up!

Happy Birthday, I hope you have a great year!

Johanna GGG said...

happy birthday katie! Am sure no one else could have made you a better birthday cake :-)

I tried a vegan gf black bean brownie once and it was like slimy rubber but I see so many successes with black beans that I must try again and this looks great. I do have a chocolate cake I have been meaning to try that have chickpeas in it and wonder if they would make the texture very different

Mrs Linton said...

This looks so delicious and I want to have a big piece right now ;-)

The Caked Crusader said...

Happy birthday!

Love the contrast in colours and it sounds so delicious

MissCakeBaker said...

A beautiful cake. I've made one with black beans before and thought it had a great texture. Lovely pics too.

Elle said...

Happy Birthday Katie!! This is one fabulous cake and so beautiful to look at. I'll never look at a can of black beans the same way again.The pairing of the tropical curd and coconut is inspired, too. What a great way to start your next year!

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday wishes from this Joy too!

ISO Training said...

A great new and unique one. This is the first time I heard about a black bean chocolate cake. Anyway, it still looks delicious.