Ian Knauer’s Chocolate Eggplant Cakes

September 19, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

When Ian Knauer's wife Malaika showed up with 80 pounds of eggplant from their farm, he wondered if, steamed and blended, it could work its way into a chocolate cake. “Applesauce cake was what got me thinking that it could work,” Ian told me. Somehow the moisture from eggplant also makes the cakes incredibly forgiving. Not feeling honey? (Or going vegan?) Use the same amount of regular sugar, maple, or golden syrup (and the classic ground flax egg substitute trick, if eggs are also a no-go). Feeding someone gluten-free? Skip the tablespoon of flour—the batter will look a little wonkier along the way, but it will work. Adapted slightly from The Farm Cooking School (Burgess Lea Press, 2017) by Ian Knauer & Shelley Wiseman.

Genius Recipes

Serves: 8
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 15 min


  • Vegetable or other neutral oil, for the pan
  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken or chopped into pieces
  • 2/3 cup wildflower honey
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • Whipped cream for serving (Knauer adds a tablespoon or two of maple syrup and a pinch of salt to his)
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Brush the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil. Alternatively, line an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly brush the base and sides with vegetable oil.
  2. Place the eggplant in a steamer basket set over boiling water and cook until very tender, about 20 minutes. Combine the hot eggplant and chocolate in a blender and puree until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to warm.
  3. Whisk the honey, cocoa, almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into the cooled eggplant mixture, then whisk in the eggs till smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the muffin tin cups (about 1/2 cup of batter per cup) or the larger pan and bake until a crust forms around the edges and the entire top is dry but the interior is still moist and jiggly (not liquid or sloshy), about 15 minutes (or about 45 minutes for a larger cake pan). The cakes will puff in the oven but settle as they cool.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cakes cool until firm but still slightly warm in the pan on a rack. Loosen the sides of each cake with a knife or offset spatula, remove the cakes onto a serving plate, and optionally sprinkle with additional cocoa powder. (If using a larger cake pan, let cool completely in the pan before inverting onto a serving plate.) Serve the cake warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.

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Reviews (62) Questions (1)

62 Reviews

Betsy January 16, 2019
I wouldn't change a thing about this!!! It is a fabulous recipe that is easily and perfectly made gluten free, nut free, dairy free, egg free and sugar free. It makes it quite perfect especially for my students who have allergies. I make them in a mini muffin pan and cook for 9 minutes. It makes nearly 6 dozen. I've tried using a mint flavored chocolate, sprinkling with habanero sugar on top, dusting with confectioners sugar, putting a dollop of whipped cream or a bit of French Cream Frosting. This is a real winner on every level and if middle schoolers go crazy anyone will!
Gardener-cook October 7, 2018
This came out extremely well for me. I have a Vitamix blender and there were no detectable seeds. I baked it in a cake pan as a torte and it was quite a hit. I did use sugar instead of honey and added a teaspoon of vanilla, just because I don’t care much for honey with chocolate. <br />I did notice that the full flavor didn’t develop for a couple of days, which came as a surprise. I saved a couple of pieces tightly covered in the refrigerator and then warmed them gently before serving with cold whipped cream, and I was surprised to find that they were better than when first made.
Cece October 3, 2018
Can you tell me what the calories are per serving - using the 12 small cake size ?
2bikegirl October 3, 2018
Has anyone tried them the next day? Do you think they will hold well? Or perhaps from frozen?
Dannielle October 3, 2018
I didn't freeze them but I took a few to co-workers the next day and they loved them.
Jk. October 4, 2018
Yes—they hold up beautifully! I put one bath in the fridge overnight and just popped them in the oven for a few minutes the next evening. I also froze some and they were still quite good. Topped with raspberries—delicious. I’ve used both flax meal and aquafaba as egg replacements, and I also cut the honey down to 1/3 cup. Heavenly!
sunkisst22 December 8, 2018
I freeze them and then microwave 30 seconds at a time till hot. They turn out great.
Betsy January 16, 2019
They freeze very well, but also keep in a refrigerator for days. If frozen you can eat them like little fudgy pops.
Lynnda September 30, 2018
I made this substituting agave for the honey. Next time, I would not use any of the eggplant parts that have seeds. They are very hard and with young children, they do not pass muster.
Kristen M. October 1, 2018
Hi Lynnda, sorry the seeds were a bother—they've always blended smooth for me, but I've had blenders in the past that might not have managed as well. You could also pass the eggplant/chocolate mix through a strainer after blending, if you don't want to have to avoid the seeded parts.
Jk. October 4, 2018
I used an immersion blender after mixing the eggplant and chocolate. This definitely helped smooth out the seediness factor.
Judith D. September 24, 2018
These cakes were delicious. I had to make a few modifications: my husband is gluten intolerant so I used 1 tbsp of GF flour. I used golden syrup instead of honey. My eggplant was only 10 oz vs 16oz, and I accidentally over-baked them by 8 minutes. With all that, they are still perfect. Best eggplant I've ever had!
Ann September 24, 2018
The eggplant/chocolate mix is super bitter...I am hoping this straightens out in the oven!
Kristen M. September 28, 2018
I hope it did, too! I'm a little surprised by this, but it could be coming from the chocolate as much as the eggplant. I hope the other ingredients mellowed it out.
plotto September 23, 2018
Mine came out still "wet" inside after 20 mins, put them back in for another 10 or so . . . and still they are really really moist, almost gooey? I'm worried they/the eggs aren't cooked and I will make my guests ill. :{ <br /><br />If I try them again, because I love that I can pretend they're healthy and I can make them gluten-free for my GF niece. I think I will NOT use the seeded part of the eggplant. I'm going to tell my 13 y.o. son that the seeds are from raspberries. He will NEVER eat these if he knows the truth.
Kristen M. September 28, 2018
They do turn out very, very moist, even when fully cooked, thanks to the eggplant and very little flour/almond flour. Better to think of them as a molten or moussey chocolate cake than a traditional dry, cakey brownie or chocolate cake.
noms October 27, 2018
If you have a kitchen thermometer you could check the temp in the center of the cake which may reassure you that the eggs are safely cooked in spite of it being gooey?
Jend September 22, 2018
What a great recipe!! I wouldn’t have tried it except for the fact I am on an extremely low fat diet right now and I love chocolate, so it seemed like it was worth trying. The chocolate and eggplant alone was delicious and I am very pleased with the recipe as a whole. Definitely a chocolate dessert recipe that will be repeated regardless of low fat diet restrictions. I used coconut sugar in place of the honey and was very happy with the sweetness. Very rich dark chocolate taste and a great texture and moisture level. No hint of the secret ingredient is apparent in the finished product.Thanks so much for the recipe!
Mahira September 22, 2018
i subbed the flour using only 1tbsp coconut flour and only 1tbsp maple with 10 packets stevia, it still turned out great :) this recipe is so good even after tweaking
Judy September 21, 2018
We do not taste the eggplant at all. Very fudgey. Mine were not like a traditional brownie.
Judy September 21, 2018
I meant that I thought it would take less time to bake. See my first comment.
Judy September 21, 2018
I used my food processor and it worked fine. I followed the recipe exactly. Got 20 after filling two cupcake pans that holds 1/4 cup of batter for each. My pans are small. I thought it would take longer to bake but they took 20 minutes at 350 degrees. They are delicious but VERY moist, but not raw. I am not sure how they will keep since they are so moist. Next time I will cut back on the honey and might use coconut flour instead of almond as it will absorb more moisture. It's worth working with a little. I would not bake it in an 8 or 9 inch pan.
abc September 21, 2018
How's the taste? Do you taste the eggplant at all? How different is it than a traditional chocolate fudge cake or brownie?
Beth100 September 21, 2018
I would also like to know if a high-speed blender is required, or is a regular blender or food processor would work equally well. Thank you!
Dannielle September 20, 2018
Can these be frozen?
nancy September 20, 2018
Can you please provide the weights to measure the flours and cocoa powder?
Malu R. September 19, 2018
Would it work to use a food processor instead of a blender to purée the eggplant and chocolate?
BR95510 September 19, 2018
Do you think I could use flax "eggs" or aquafiba instead of real eggs to make it herbivore friendly? Thanks!
Jk. October 4, 2018
I used both in two separate batches. Turned out beautifully.
Elizabeth C. September 19, 2018
Can I sub all purpose flour for the almond flour??
Kristen M. September 19, 2018
Adding my answer from the article page here, too, so others can see: Hi Elizabeth, I haven't tried that variation, but I think it should be fine. All-purpose flour will be more fine and absorbent than almond flour, but there is so much moisture going on in this cake, it's at little risk of going dry. Let us know if you try it!<br /><br />
Elizabeth C. September 19, 2018
I subbed all purpose flour for the almond flour and the cake was delicious. <br />
Diane September 19, 2018
If I would like to make this recipe gluten free, what could I substitute for the 1 tablespoon of flour? Is this 1 tablespoon of flour necessary for a successful cake?
Kristen M. September 19, 2018
Hi Diane, I mention this in the article and recipe headnote above—you can leave it out, no problem! The batter will look a little more broken, but it will bake up fine.
Diane September 19, 2018
Thanks! I guess I should have read the article more carefully.<br />