Liberating Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 45-60 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Serves: 8-12

After publishing, we were contacted by Dreena Burton herself (!), who informed us that she came up with the OG whole-foods plant-based sweet potato cake and frosting. You can imagine that for a small-time blog, it was pretty exciting to have our second comment ever come from a celebrity! You can read more about her and her recipes at

This cake works well for fondant, like at our wedding!

This tiered chocolate cake is elegant, decadent, and filled with sweet potatoes. Yes, really! We’ve served this chocolate cake for birthday parties and celebrations of all kinds. For larger festivities, you can even wrap the cake in decorative fondant, such as we did for our wedding. (Alex: Kati did a beautiful job with the birch-textured fondant, and aren’t her squirrels amazing too?)

Sometimes, when people talk about “guiltless” cakes, you know they only partly mean it. In this case, you’re actually getting your serving of carotenoids and root vegetables conveyed in a decadent, chocolate cake. It’s not enough just to feel guiltless: Feel excited about what you eat!

Alex: When I first started my whole-foods, plant-based diet I was certain that was the end of chocolate cakes and baked goods. Kati proved me wrong! She made this cake during our courtship, and I’ve enjoyed it countless times since. And, of course, this is my very favorite way to eat a sweet potato!

Recipe continues below…


  • 3/4 cup sweet potato, peeled, cooked, cooled, pureed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar or preferred sweetener
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy chocolate pieces (chopped up Baker’s chocolate works excellently)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 banana (for pan greasing)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease pans (ideally two 6 inch pans) with well mashed banana, and then lightly coat with flour. Your goal isn’t to coat the pans in a thick layer of banana, but to use the banana as if you were waxing the pans with it, a bit like applying lip balm.
  3. Combine sweet potato, water, vinegar, and vanilla in blender and puree until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, chocolate pieces, salt, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well, and then add the wet ingredients from the blender.
  5. Bake 19-20 minutes.
  6. Remove and allow to cool.
  7. Remove the two tiers from their pans (this is where the banana is exceptionally helpful)!
  8. Coat the top of the first tier with frosting of choice. Sweet Potato Frosting works well here.
  9. Put the second layer on top of the first, and then coat the entire exterior in frosting.
  10. Refrigerate, allow to cool, and enjoy!

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