Clean chocolate cake?! How does that work? When you eat clean, you can make your cake and eat it too. This cake is made with whole wheat pastry flour, applesauce, Greek yogurt, and dark chocolate. Topped with decadent peanut frosting, this cake will satisfy your sweet cravings and then some.

This recipe is from my book, Homemade Snacks and Staples, which will be released from Penguin Books on May 7th.

So how does this fit in the Clean Eating diet? It’s all about choices and definitions.

Defining Clean Eating

There are some haters out there who may balk at my ‘clean chocolate cake’. I was really shocked when this article came through my Google Alerts. The author talked about clean eating as a cult and as I was reading it, this version of clean eating sounded a lot more more like a combination of paleo and raw diets than the my beloved clean eating. Especially this paragraph:
“Clean eating is also expensive. To do it properly requires a full arsenal of fancy and expensive kitchen equipment that is out reach for many on a budget. A hardcore blender (BPA-free of course) to make your own juices, smoothies, soups and nut butters, a dehydrator to mimic the texture of cooked foods while keeping enzymes intact, a spiraliser for raw pasta, and so on. And that’s before you even purchase the ingredients which of course have to be organic and local.”

What? I need a blender? Raw pasta? I can’t cook foods? This sounds terrible. And here all along, I have been saving money by avoiding processed foods at the super market. What am I doing wrong?

My shock turned into self-doubt when I read this:

“Another area where clean eating gets it dreadfully, dreadfully wrong is desserts. Here are a few names of clean eating desserts: Black Bean Fudge Cakes, Chocolate Avocado Mousse, Protein Cookie Balls, Almond Buckwheat Goji Raw Bars. Is your mouth watering yet? No? That’s because Mother Nature already provided us with a perfectly healthy, fuss-free dessert – it’s called fruit.”

Yes, I love fruit. And yes, this is the dessert of choice on most days. But there are days for celebration where fruit doesn’t cut it (gasp! I said it!) My cookbook is filled with clean desserts. Dairy-free ice creams, cookies, and cakes, and none of them involved non-sweet ingredients like black beans or avocados. Oops.  Does this mean that I am not a clean eater?

When I see articles like this, it’s hard not to be upset. There are people who take clean eating (and healthy eating) to such a degree that it becomes almost impossible to follow. I am sure there are people who read my blog and say that I am not ‘clean’ enough because I don’t grow all of my own food, raise my own chickens, and make every single item in my pantry from scratch. And there are people who think I take it to an extreme (like my family and some of my friends) in what I will buy and not buy at the grocery store. That’s life. Manatee and I have accepted it.

Like everything else in life, you need to define choices work for you and stand by them. For us, this means:

  • No chemicals, only whole food ingredients
  • No white flour
  • As little sugar/sweeteners as possible
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No prepackaged snack foods
  • Lots of whole foods
  • Local, when we can get it
  • Non-GMO when we can get it
  • Limited dairy products: butter for baking and Greek Yogurt, but that’s about it

And the most important rule of all:

  • No beating yourself up when you eat or drink something ‘not clean’

Each time you put something in your mouth, you are making a choice. Some days there may be bad choices, but that does not mean your clean eating days are over. As soon as you eat (or drink) again, you have the opportunity to make it up.

This is what keeps us sane and also what keeps us on track. We’re not always perfect, but we have stuck to our principles so long that it is now a way of life. And isn’t that the point?

Alright, enough on my clean eating soap box, let’s get to this amazing chocolate cake recipe!


Clean Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Rich, dense chocolate cake topped with nutty butter frosting.

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Prep Time
30 min

Total Time
1 hr

Prep Time
30 min

Total Time
1 hr

[1/2] cup unsalted butter
[1/2] cup unsweetened applesauce
4 oz. chopped dark chocolate (70% Cacao) or [1/2] cup chocolate chips
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 [1/2] cup whole wheat pastry flour OR 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and [1/2] cup rolled oats, ground to coarse meal
1 [1/2] teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
[1/2] teaspoon cinnamon sugar OR [1/2] teaspoon cinnamon OR [1/2] teaspoon nutmeg (for a nuttier taste)
1[1/2] teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unprocessed sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt

[1/4] cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons non-dairy milk or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
[1/4] teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips for decorating, optional

Preheat oven to 350 (dgF). Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan or 2 cupcake pans.
In a small bowl, combine chocolate, butter, applesauce, and cocoa. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and repeat until chocolate is melted. The mixture will not be smooth. Set aside until needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon mix, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in vanilla, sugar, and chocolate mixture. Slowly mix in flour mixture.
Fold in Greek yogurt and stir just until combined. Pour into prepared pan(s).
For 9×13 cake, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it (1 or 2). For cupcakes, bake for 18-24 minutes, with the same toothpick test.
While cake is baking, mix together the frosting: In a large bowl, combine butter with [1/4] cup peanut butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium high until well combined. Add non-dairy milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat to combine.
Add sugar and remaining [3/4] cup peanut butter, alternating between the two and continuing to beat with mixer until combined. Chill for at least 1 hour before spreading.
Spread on cooled cake (or cupcakes) and top with mini chocolate chips. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

Butter for the frosting MUST be softened or you will get butter lumps in your frosting.
If you accidentally add all of the peanut at once in the frosting, don’t fret. It will still turn out.
For a lighter tasting cake (and possibly flatter and more dense), omit the cocoa powder.

Badger Girl Learns to Cook by Kimberly Aime


Recipe Review

As if to prove that my my recipes are foolproof, I managed to royally screw up one of my own recipes. When I made these cupcakes for my birthday, I forgot the cocoa powder and didn’t properly read the instructions for the peanut butter frosting. This is what happens when you are trying to do too many things in the kitchen.

Then when I made the cake for the Writer’s Institute, I didn’t soften the butter and had butter clumps in my frosting. But you know what?

clean choc cake pb frosting

This is what I took to the Writer’s Institute.


clean choco pb cake

This is what I brought home from the Writer’s Institute.


I didn’t hear any complaints.

The cake is rich and dense. The peanut butter frosting tastes like peanut butter cookie dough. A small bite goes a long way and that’s how I love my desserts.

If you want to stick to Raw Black Bean Fudge Protein Balls for your clean desserts, have at it. As for me, I think I will stick to my whole-wheat, applesauce, Greek Yogurt chocolate cake topped with peanut butter frosting. We’ll see who is still eating clean years later.


What are some of the ways (or rules) you use to keep it clean and healthy in your diet?



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