Black Bean (!) Red Wine (!) Chocolate Cake with Ricotta (!) Butter Cream

This cake is full of surprises! Beans! Wine! Ricotta! It looks like a beautiful chocolate cake with creamy butter cream frosting, and it is, except it's much more interesting and fun (and slightly healthier).

When black bean brownies were going viral on the internet, of course I tried them out and fell for them, but around the same time I also started putting beans in various other baking, too. You can find approximately a bazillion black bean brownies recipes but not nearly as many for black bean cake, and cake and brownies are not the same thing. Likewise, a few years ago I came across the beauty that is Smitten Kitchen's red velvet chocolate cake made with red wine, and ever since I've been sneaking vino into my baking (most recently into my 30th birthday cake which was made with pink champagne). So you might say I'm a fan of beans and wine in baking, (and outside of it!), but I have never mixed the two in one recipe, until now.


This is a chocolate cake, decidedly not a brownie. I subbed canola oil in for butter and red wine in for the milk, so if you don't ice it, it's happily dairy-free. The red wine flavour is still there slightly in the cake, and I'm not 100% sure if the alcohol cooks off completely, so many don't make this cake for your kid's birthday party. The frosting is a classic butter cream with ricotta added, so it's much lighter than a regular butter cream and spreads much more easily. I also made my whole cake in my Ninja blender, which I highly recommend. You need to puree the beans anyway, so why not mix everything together and not dirty another mixing bowl? Plus those blades are way more powerful than my stirring abilities. On to the recipe!

Black Bean Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Ricotta Butter Cream

For the cake:

Add the following ingredients (in order) one by one and blend between each addition:
  • 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (I recommend this one)
  • 1.5 cups red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 cup flour
Lightly oil two 9 inch cake pans, fill equally, and bake them at 325 for 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on them - mine cooked in about 35 minutes, but it will depend on the style of pan you use, your oven's temperature, etc.

For the frosting:

Mix 1/4 cup softened butter with 3/4 cup icing sugar until smooth. Add 1/4 cup ricotta cheese and continue mixing into smooth again (1 minute in a stand mixer should be fine). Add more icing sugar to get the sweetness and consistency you desire if it's not quite right. Finally, mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Top with something pretty! I used some dried tea flowers from a loose leaf herbal tea I bought recently, but any kind of edible flower, seeds, nuts, or berries look really nice.

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