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Mayan Chocolate Cake with Sweet-Potato Chocolate Frosting

by Shell St. James about a year ago in vegan
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A Delicious Vegan Dessert Cake with Low Refined Sugar

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This delicious vegan chocolate cake checks off all the boxes!

Prior to 2020, I was a professional pastry chef for 31 years.

I initially developed this recipe for my boyfriend’s birthday. Besides following a vegan diet, he’s also very sensitive to refined sugar. Even adding white sugar to tea or homemade lemonade will give him a headache. Since he’s such a strict vegan, honey is off the table, as well.

This recipe has very minimal refined sugar…none whatsoever in the cake, and only a small amount via the chocolate chips used in the icing (no confectioners sugar).

The recipe incorporates whole wheat flour, gives an unexpected boost of nutrients through SWEET POTATOES, and… it’s 100% vegan!

It’s suitable for a traditional two-layer birthday cake or dessert cake, or, choose to split the layers to create a show-stopping torte! And it’s super easy to make!

I know, I know… sweet potatoes to make chocolate icing??? Believe me, the icing is delicious! No one will ever guess you’re making them eat their vegetables by serving them dessert!


The Cake

Grease two 8" round cake pans, line with parchment. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F


  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 2 TBL. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 TBL vanilla extract


In a large mixing bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients until well blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat well with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and place on the center rack in oven. Bake approximately 25–30 minutes, until the cake springs back lightly when touched (doesn’t sink under your fingertip). Do not overbake. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn layers out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Tip: If splitting the layers for a 4-layer torte, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for less crumbs when splitting.


The Frosting

If creating a torte (4 thin layers), multiply the frosting recipe by 1.5


  • 2 medium or 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips (I use “Enjoy Life” brand)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBL unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBL melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup decaf brewed coffee (you can use regular)
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


Peel and cook sweet potatoes until tender. Drain well. Mash slightly so you can measure them out. Place 2 1/4 cups mashed sweet potatoes in food processor, still hot — you want to melt the chocolate with their heat.

Add the chocolate chips, coconut oil, salt, cocoa powder, agave syrup and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth. Add the brewed coffee a little at a time, until your mixture has the consistency of fluffy frosting. You may not have to use all the coffee. Refrigerate frosting until chilled for best results.


Put it Together

Trim the layers so they’re flat. (If you wish to have a “torte” look, split each layer in half to make four thin layers)

Place first layer on platter or cake board. Using approximately 2/3 cup of frosting, spread frosting on each layer, stacking as you go. Press lightly on top of stack, then spread remaining frosting over top and sides, using the back of a spoon to make a swirly design.

Garnish with chocolate curls on top, if desired. Cinnamon sticks can be used to garnish the base.

Store at room temperature for up to 3 days, in a covered dome with waxed paper (or plastic wrap) against the cut surfaces, or freeze, sliced, for up to three months.

Serves 10


About the author

Shell St. James

Shell St. James is a New England author living in an 1895 farmhouse with her musician soulmate, feline muse, and a benevolent ghost. Her novel, "The Mermaid of Agawam Bay", is available on Amazon. Find out more at www.shellstjames.com

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