Vegan Chocolate Persimmon Cake

This cake is everything. 
Moist, dense, chocolatey, vegan, gluten free, and um, HEALTHY! So fundamentally, it’s the best. We were inspired by a recipe found on Nutrition Stripped in which she used blackberries, almond meal, and melted chocolate to create this decadent cake.

Instead, we switched up the blackberries for persimmons and used oats and maple syrup. The result- equally as heavenly, we’re sure.
 

A little information on persimmons:
 

  • This fruit is actually, technically speaking, a berry!
  • Most commonly grown in Japan and Korea, but can also be grown in North America
  • There are two common types; astringent and non-astringent.
  • Astringent- Hachiya, the longer and more colorful variety is the most common. Astringent persimmons are high in tannins which create a “chalky” or bitter taste, if eaten before completely soft. 
  • Non astringent- Fuyu, the shorter tomato-like paler orange version is the most common. Can be consumed when firm or soft- often eaten like an apple. 
  • Contain poly-phenolic anti-oxidants such as catechins (what we always hear being promoted in red wine and chocolate!).

The recipe calls for vinegar. What role does vinegar have in baking, you ask?? It’s all in the chemistry; yes, cooking and baking is actually quite science-y when you break it down!

Remember in elementary school when you made hilarious volcanoes which would detonate when you mixed vinegar and baking soda in them? Well, same thing here. The reaction creates carbon dioxide gas bubbles which work to inflate the cake and give it a bit more oomph.

The addition of sweet potato to the cake increases not only the sweetness and density of the cake, but also provides that extra boost of nutrients and fiber.

Dates for your primary sweetener are perfect- these babies are rich in iron and calcium and provide us with a variety of antioxidants. Add the antioxidants in dates to those contained in the persimmons (remember catechins?) and you have a pretty stellar dose of body buddies.

Vegan Chocolate Persimmon Cake
Makes: 8-10 Servings Prep Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe medium persimmons, one VERY ripe Hachiya for inside cake and one Fuyu for garnish
  • ¾ cup baked sweet potato, skin removed
  • 1 cup dates
  • ½ cup ground rolled oats
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup vegan dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate bar), optional
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP white or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Around ½ cup non-dairy milk, or more until desired consistency is reached

Instructions:

  1. Dice sweet potato, coat with vegetable oil, bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until tender and remove skin.
  2. Grind oats in food processor until they turn into flour, place in separate bowl.
  3. Peel skin off ripe Hachiya persimmon and combine with dates, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and sweet potato. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, except chocolate and remaining Fuyu persimmon, and blend in food processor until you have a smooth batter.
  5. Slowly add in non-dairy milk until desired consistency. Consistency should be thicker than pancake batter but if too thick add splash more almond milk.
  6. Combine vinegar, baking powder, and baking soda together in a separate bowl. Add to food processor and combine with other ingredients.
  7. Fold in chocolate chips/chunks to batter.
  8. Pour batter into a 6” round greased cake pan.
  9. Slice remaining persimmon and place on top of cake in whatever pretty little design you want! (To avoid chalkiness, which happens if the astringent persimmon variety (Hachiya- the one we used for inside the cake) slice a non- astringent (Fuyu)persimmon on the top)
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Authors Note: This recipe would work really well with juicy ripe nectarines or peaches- this is what we initially tried and it was delicious. Try a new fruit, whatever is in season!

Although persimmons are not typically a Canadian fruit, we found them in almost every little Toronto market in our neighbourhood and couldn’t resist the temptation to try them out in this recipe. This little fruit is very in-season in Asia, hence the abundance of it in our local Asian fruit markets!

Antioxidants are like our cell warriors- they fight free radicals from damaging our cells. Free radicals can come from things like pollution, pesticides, and stress. A damaged cell, or at least an accumulation of damaged cells, is what we associate with aging and diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease. This is why we want antioxidants- to help fend off cellular damage and destruction caused by free radicals.

We also love the way pureed fruit sneaks into the dessert, virtually unnoticed. What a great way to increase the vitamin content of an otherwise (utterly deceitful) indulgent ‘chocolate cake’.
 
This one is a crowd pleaser, enjoy!