plant based vibes

Happy Birthday to Me! [Avocado, Date, Coconut + Cacao Cake]

Two years ago we had just moved into our second tiny apartment on Maui. Between unpacking the boxes, setting up the kitchen, and submitting job applications; my birthday also came around. At the time, I was working for a local food initiative connecting farmers upcountry to the coastal dwellers and tourist through weekly farmers markets in Napili and Kahului. They couldn’t pay me much- just a basic hourly wage plus tips- but every week I walked in the door to our little home with a box brimming with free fresh produce. It was a pretty sweet deal.

On the eve of my birthday that year, I decided to take the day off from job applications and refolding t-shirts. I decided to spend my day in the kitchen creating a birthday gift to myself: a healthier- but still delicious- chocolate cake recipe. Diving into my magic produce basket, I found my favorite giant avocados and fresh dates. I knew what I had to do.

If you’ve never had a Maui avocado, I’m sorry to say, you are missing out on something special. There are over two hundred types of avocados that grow naturally in Hawaii and all of them have varying textures and subtle flavors that will blow your mind. These particular avocados were the creamiest, dreamiest avocadoes of them all. They were also almost as big as my face.

I set about whipping up an avocado/cacao/maple frosting that set in the fridge while I moved on to the cake batter itself. Dates, oat flour, ginger, cinnamon, coconut, and cacao all found their way into my massive mixing bowl. Baked to fudgy perfection, I put my cake tins aside to cool and moved on to the piece de resistance: the cacao coconut ganache.

This chocolate cake of my dreams traveled in my lap to the other side of the island that evening where we spent the evening with the dearest of friends (and one too many lilikoi margaritas) and came with us to a quiet, sunny beach the next day where we snorkeled with sea turtles and sat together on a beach blanket eating cake with our hands and laughing uncontrollably at the messy pleasure of it all.

This cake will always remind me of that day. It will always bring back the laughter and comfort of being with some of our most tried and true friends.

Last year, I remade this cake for my birthday. It traveled from northwest Virginia down to another beach and to a different set of heart friends: this time on the Atlantic Ocean and some of my oldest and best friends. More great laughs and thoughtful conversations filled the air while we stuffed our faces with chocolate cake and bundled up against the chilly, salty air.

Now, November is here again which means another run around the sun has begun. And I’m still making this cake. This year I got to share it with my sisters. Also, I topped it with coconut macaroons this year because go big or go home guys.

It appears this cake has become my annual birthday tradition.

So happy my birthday to you! I hope you enjoy this rich, decadent cake as much as I do and that it lifts the winter doldrums out of your soul, even just for an afternoon.

Avocado, Date, Coconut + Cacao Birthday Cake

A decadent chocolate birthday cake made with whole food ingredients

Course Dessert
Prep Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 35 minutes
Servings 12 small slices

Ingredients

Cake Batter

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups date paste see method below
  • 2/3 cups coconut oil melted
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups cacao powder
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1.5 tsps baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Date Paste

  • 2 cups dates soaked in hot water for at least one hour
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Coconut + Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar

Avocado + Cacao Frosting

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 6 tbsp cacao powder
  • 6-7 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt

Coconut Macaroons

  • 1 cup almonds ground into a coarse flour
  • 1.5 cup coconut flakes shredded
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Cake Batter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray cake pans with nonstick cooking spray (I used coconut oil spray) 

  2. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside for a few minutes.

  3. Mix the date paste, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Add the coconut milk mixture.

  4. In a big bowl, combine the oat flour, all-purpose flour, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.

  5. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until combined.

  6. Divide batter into two pans. Smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Cook for 30 minutes or until an inserted fork comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

  7. Once cooled, slide a knife around the edge of the cake and invert the cake onto a cooling rack to cool for another 45 minutes.

  8. When the cakes are almost completely cool, begin making the ganache. Once both cakes are cool spread the ganache filling on one cake then sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt. Gently press the other half on top of the iced cake. Finish the cake with frosting and macaroons. Let chill in the fridge a few hours before serving to set. Once set, slice, serve, and enjoy!

Date Paste

  1. Drain soaked dates and add them to a high-speed blender or food processor with 1/2 cup warm water. Pulse and use tamper until a smooth paste has formed. Add more water, in small increments, if necessary.

Coconut + Chocolate Ganache

  1. Add the coconut cream, vanilla, and coconut sugar to a small saucepan over low heat and get it just warm enough but not hot. Take off heat and pour over chocolate chips in a small bowl. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted. Let cool in the fridge, stirring every 30 minutes for 1.5-2 hours until thick but still spreadable.

Avocado + Cacao Frosting

  1. Add the avocados to the blender and blend until smooth + creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined. Scrape out into a small bowl and set in the fridge until ready to use

Coconut Macaroons

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Combined all ingredients in a large bowl, it will be sticky but that is ok.

  2. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray then scoop out the macaroon mixture into small (2 tbsp) balls. Flatten one side and place the flat side down on the baking tray.

  3. Once all macaroons have been formed, place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

  4. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the pan

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