date sweetened chocolate cake

date sweetened chocolate cake

Date sweetened chocolate cake is the go-to dessert in our house these days. This cake is rich and decadent and sweetened entirely with dried fruit! {Nutrition information below the recipe]

I often imagine myself making it big and sitting in the ranks with Ina Garten and Julia Child. I would be interviewed on the Bon Appetite podcast and the host would ask me to describe my signature dish. Without hesitation I tell him about this fruit-sweetened chocolate cake that I invented for my health conscious, sugar obsessed husband and we have a good laugh about how Kenny is the real-life cookie monster.

Earlier this year Kenny decided to quit processed sugar cold turkey. One day we were feasting on German chocolates during a trip to Europe and the next day he wouldn’t touch anything with processed sugar. One of the things I admire most about my husband is his propensity to self reflect and improve. A former fat kid turned fitness buff, Kenny is the epitome of kaizen and I try to support him whenever I can.

Kenny’s processed sugar fast has given me a great opportunity to experiment with dessert recipes that rely solely on fruit for sweetness. Since we both are raging choco-holics I decided to create a recipe for chocolate cake that uses dried Medjool dates in place of granulated sugar.

The omission of sugar from any recipe causes problems ranging from sweetness to texture. Granulated sugar tends to hold on to moisture so the first few tests I did with this recipe resulted in a dry, flavorless cake. The secret to added moisture was egg yolks. When baked in a cake, too much butter can leak out of the batter but the fat from egg yolks offers moisture without melting out of the cake.

Density of the cake was also a problem. The pureed dates created a close crumb and a super dense cake. A trick I learned from America’s Test Kitchen is to add vinegar to the batter to activate the leavening agents (you’ll notice I used hefty portions of both baking soda and baking powder) so you can get a good rise even with a heavy batter.

The third trick was to use canola oil instead of butter. I bake with whole wheat flour when possible and oil controls the gluten formation in the batter. Too much gluten leads to a tough, dry cake.

After dozens of tests to get the rest of the ingredients just right, I’ve developed a fruit sweetened cake recipe that satiates our chocolate craving without compromising Kenny’s convictions. I love to frost this cake with my date-sweetened cream cheese frosting (recipe coming soon!) and watch Kenny savor every morsel. He pours himself a frosty glass of almond milk, serves up the perfect slice, and closes his eyes as the fork makes its way to his mouth. He let’s out an emphatic “mmmmmm” and tells me what an amazing wife I am. How could I not want to bake this up every week?!

I hope those near and dear to you enjoy this date-sweetened chocolate cake as much as my husband does!


date sweetened chocolate cake

date sweetened chocolate cake

Date sweetened chocolate cake made without processed sugar. This decadent whole wheat cake will please the entire family! Top with my date sweetened chocolate cream cheese frosting!

  • Author: Sep Campos
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 9" cakes


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 10 oz pitted medjool dates (chopped)
  • 1 ½ cups hot coffee
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • ½ Cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line 2 9” round cake pans with parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides of the pan with softened butter
  3. Place the dates in a large, heatproof bowl
  4. Prepare a pot of dark coffee and pour the very hot coffee over the dates and add the chopped chocolate to the hot coffee
  5. Use a spoon to push the dates down into the coffee and let them soak for 5 minutes at room temperature, until the chocolate melts
  6. Grind the coffee soaked dates and melted chocolate in a food processor until a smooth paste forms
  7. Add the eggs and egg yolk to the food processor and grind until fully combined
  8. Add the vegetable oil, vanilla, salt, vinegar, and cocoa powder to the food processor and blend until fully combined – stop every 20-30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula
  9. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the food processor and blend for 10-20 seconds until just mixed
  10. Use a rubber spatula to divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans
  11. Use the spatula to smooth down the tops of the cakes and bake them side by side on the middle rack of the oven
  12. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with the exception of a few crumbs, about 20 minutes (rotate the pans halfway through baking)
  13. Remove the cakes from oven and let them cool on wire racks at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before frosting

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