It’s All Hallows’ Eve Eve! I’m expecting my chocolate cake recipe to scare some people away. Not because of the spider lurking nearby, but because of the prunes lurking inside. Yes, it has prunes in it. They’re not just your Grandma’s laxative anymore. Researchers from Tufts University in Boston ranked prunes as the #1 food in terms of antioxidant capacity, finding that prunes had more than twice the antioxidants of other high-ranking foods such as blueberries and raisins. Adding pureed prunes to a baked recipe is similar to adding applesauce and pumpkin- it allows you to decrease the amount of oil and still maintain the moistness.

My first chocolate cake was not great- too heavy on the  prune taste and not  chocolatey enough. Also, when I put the prunes and water in my food processor and pulsed, there was an explosion. Chunky prune liquid blew out the food chute and out from where the bowl meets the lid.  I should have taken some pictures. My cabinets were dripping prune water, making my kitchen look like “Nightmare on Elm Street.”  The next day, with a freshly scrubbed kitchen and a new batch of prunes, I tried again. The second cake was exactly what I was hoping for- fudgy and dense with no hint of prunes.

The recipe I’ve posted has a basic chocolate icing. If you’d like to do the spider web icing, see the note below. This recipe makes a one layer cake- but you can easily double it if you want a 2-layer. If you’re hesitant about committing to a big bag of prunes, check out your grocery store’s bulk food section. I was able to buy just the amount of prunes I needed, and I found the whole wheat pastry flour there as well. I highly recommend using whole wheat pastry flour in your baked goods- it has a much lighter taste than regular whole wheat flour. Also, if you don’t have a food processor or you’re pressed for time, you could use baby food pureed prunes. I’m not sure what the correct amount would be, so if anyone tries it, let me know and I’ll post that as well.

Chocolate Cake

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • 1½ cups water, divided (1/2 cup to cook the prunes in, the other cup ends up in the cake)
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy milk
Shaved dark chocolate curls on top (optional) (Use a vegetable peeler)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, cake pan or a bundt cake pan.
  2. Boil ½ cup water. Cut prunes in half and submerge in boiling water. Turn heat off and cover pan. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add ½ cup water, vanilla, vegetable oil, milk and vinegar.
  5. Drain the prunes. Put the prunes and a fresh ½ cup water in food processor. Cover the food chute and pulse until smooth. Add prune mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely, then remove from pan and frost.
Note: For the spider web frosting, make the frosting recipe that I’ve posted for Carrot Cake, adding a bit more powdered sugar to make it thicker. After you’ve frosted the cake, take a tube of black gel icing, (I used Wilton’s that I found at Michaels) and put a dot in the center of the cake. (It helps to get a ruler and find the exact center.) Then make circles about a ½ inch apart. I ended up with 7 circles. If at this point it looks like a first grader did it, like mine did, don’t worry, It only adds to the spider web effect. Beginning with the center circle, gently pull a toothpick through all the circles toward the outer edge. Wipe the toothpick clean and repeat, moving clockwise and dragging the toothpick through at every eighth segment of the circle to complete the web pattern. Top with a small plastic spider, if you can find one. My rubber tarantula was too big to put on top.