Chocolate Surprise Cake from “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day

IMG_2224I love stealth recipes…the kind you can sneak by your most persnickity dinner guests or reluctant vegetable eaters. The kind they’ll never know is vegan, unless of course, you hand them the recipe as they leave for the evening, which for fun, I highly recommend. I also love that you can make the icing without palm-derived vegan butter…the kind that is threatening organgutans and rain forests. I pride myself that almost all recipes in “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day” take less than 20 minutes and don’t involve a lot of hard-to-find ingredients. This cake takes about an hour to bake, so it is one of the few exceptions of longer times.

When I give talks, I enjoy showing the slide of the “after” photo of the cake and ask the audience to guess what the ingredients are. They are so surprised to find that this lucious looking cake with rich icing includes beets, carrots and zucchini! After they take a few guesses, I jump to the next slide of the ingredients in the blender, and there’s so much laughter. Beets? Zucchini? Really? Who knew?
I like to grate my root vegetables such as beets and carrots in my Saladmaster machine.

If you don’t have one, don’t stress…any grater will do. I got my SM machine when I was a cooking instructor (before I wrote my books) for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s The Cancer Project. Saladmaster donated machines to instructors, or you can get one by hosting one of their multi-level marketing parties where their equipment and appliances are sold. I don’t work for them or get anything for saying this. A journalist first and foremost, I just happen to think these are great devices for getting raw food on the table in a hurry and using no electricity and needing little clean-up. It comes with 5 detachable shredding and slicing blades, and you can often find one on eBay or Craig’s list. I used the smallest, finest shredder for the beets. It was so fast!

IMG_4754I also wanted to show you another variety of beets that I got from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture farm…go to to find one, or any local farm for that matter, near you). I noticed that they tasted sweeter and saltier, and the CSA farmer told me it was the variety of the beet species called “Candy Cane.” You can see the varigated red and white striped color in this beet photo. They are cooked so they are not as vibrant as the raw beets in the other photo. I used to not care for beet greens, until I tasted the “Candy Cane variety. It is a totally different taste. So if you don’t like a particular vegetable or green, try another variety and see what you think.




1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or 1 cup unbleached white flour and 2/3 cup all-purpose whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups whole pitted dates
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks, packed in juice, drained
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 banana
1 cup shredded beets
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dates
1/2 cup currants (optional)
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup vanilla soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Icing:

1 cup unsalted raw macadamia nuts or cashews
1/2 cup raw brazil nuts or hazelnuts
1 cup vanilla soymilk
2/3 cup whole pitted dates
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the ovetn to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a medicum bowl and stir with a dry whisk until well combined. Put the whole dates, the pineapple, applesauce, and banana in a blender and process until smooth.
Combine the beets, walnuts, carrots, chopped dates, optional currants, and zucchini in a large bowl.

Stir in the flour mixture, soymilk, and vanilla extract. Add the blended date mexture and mix well.
Pour the batter into a 9 x 13-inch nonstick baking pan or two 9-inch round nonstick cake pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving platter.

To make the icing, put the icing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Spread over the warm or cooled cake. Rediculously easy. Deliciously tempting. Can be refrigerated, but doubtful it will last that long. Enjoy!

Some of you may be reading this as part of a virtual vegan potluck. If so (or even if you’re not, feel free to jump in now), here the other links in the chain to go back and forth between the other recipes. Cool idea, eh? Thanks to the organizers for doing this!