No-Sugar Five Spice Plantain Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: about an hour all together

Grocery Cost: $

In the last month, I’ve picked up three great cookbooks: Near & Far by Heidi Swanson, The Chakra Kitchen by Sarah Wilkinson, and Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. In terms of food intolerances, The Chakra Kitchen is definitely the most friendly, but the other two feature recipes that are easily adaptable. Last year, Nina gave me another great book — that I highly recommend to all gluten-free/dairy-free bakers — called Flourless by Nicole Spiridakis. Spiridakis uses dairy and eggs but offers replacement instructions in almost all of her recipes.

The Chakra Kitchen and Flourless both feature great chocolate cake recipes. I’ve also come across a good option for one that works for those of us who are not eating any sugar (save for a small amount of fructose) on I haven’t looked too far into their website but it looks like they are working with similar restrictions. All of these chocolate cake recipes got me thinking about baking with chocolate when you’re not really supposed to eat sugar. Unsweetened chocolate is pretty unpalatable and bitter, a fact I discovered when I was very little and stole some of my Mom’s baking chocolate out of her pantry. That may be true, but I think that, unless you have a severe allergy to chocolate, it’s possible to make a delicious chocolate cake that fits into a lot of restrictions. So I experimented a little with all of the recipes I had on hand to make a little Five Spice Plantain Chocolate Cake.


This recipe makes for a dense but smooth cake, if that makes sense…it’s similar to what you might get from a flourless chocolate cake. Don’t expect it to be very sweet: it looks like “normal” chocolate cake, but it definitely has its own intense chocolate flavor. If you want it to be sweeter, but can’t have sugar, I’d recommend adding some raspberries as a garnish. If you can have sugar, you can always add a little honey to the batter or use a baking brush to add some maple syrup after you bake it. In my house, we usually make recipes that I can eat and then add things afterwards for those who don’t have the restrictions. cake2

For the cake:

  • 1 plantain (mine was a little scrawny and dry so I added 1/2 of a banana)
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 2 T unsweetened almond butter
  • 1 t alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
  • 1/3 c chai tea with almond milk (or just regular almond milk — you might need less or a little more)
  • 1/3 c pecan meal
  • 1/3 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1-1/2 t five spice
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 2/3 c cocoa powder (I used a little less)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Chop the plantain (and banana) into slices, place in food processor
  3. Add the almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla. Process until smooth
  4. Add pecan meal, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, five spice, and cocoa powder
  5. If your batter is dry, gradually add the chai tea until you have a smooth batter
  6. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with coconut oil and transfer your batter (Mine was mysteriously hiding so I used a loaf pan and ended up cutting out round shapes with a cookie cutter).
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes
  8. Let cool completely before carefully taking it out of the pan. It might be pretty delicate.

If you don’t have any food intolerances, I’d also recommend adding some chocolate chips into the batter, but do that in a separate bowl after you process.

For the whipped coconut cream

  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
  1. Turn the can upside down and let chill in the fridge for a few hours (I keep mine in our pantry where it gets pretty cool at night, so I often don’t have to do this)
  2. Open the can and scoop out the separated coconut cream. Keep the liquid on hand.
  3. As you would regular dairy cream, whip the chilled coconut cream until it starts to soften. I often add a teaspoon or so of the remaining coconut liquid to smooth out the cream a little
  4. Serve immediately. It doesn’t keep very well, but it’s delicious and there often aren’t any leftovers to worry about. If you do have leftovers, store them in the fridge and use them the next day (on your oatmeal, on pancakes, or in a curry).

PS: If you love chocolate but aren’t eating sugar, Not Your Sugar Mama’s Chocolate Bars are really good. I tried Coconut Crunch and was psyched to find a chocolate that I could (sparingly) eat. They sweeten that particular bar with coconut nectar, which is low on the glycemic index. Am I supposed to eat it? I guess not…but it was my birthday, so…one piece wouldn’t be too much trouble. Some of their flavors do have other non-refined sweeteners. NYSM Chocolate is also vegan verified via the Vegetarian Resource Group. I need to do some more research on this group, but the chocolate bar didn’t have any animal products in the ingredient list.


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