No you can’t taste the sauerkraut!
Now that We’ve Gotten that out of the way…
My version of the Sauerkraut & Chocolate Cake has 1/3 fewer calories and fat than classic recipes. Slathered in dark chocolate (Vegan) Fudgy Frosting, the moisture from sauerkraut ensures a rich cake with no need for extra fat such as butter or oil. Likewise, the tanginess works like sour cream or vinegar would in other cakes to create a depth in flavor. But don’t fear, mincing it well ensures no stringy bites of fermented cabbage. This bewildering dessert will not merely surprise you, but also be an excellent conversation starter at any Halloween party!
Amish Women Know Their Way Around a Cake!
When my husband and I were on our month long RV trip back to California from his assignment in Manhattan, NY, we had to stop in Amish country, Pennsylvania. Because of my love for all matters food, I yearned to see a working Amish kitchen on an Amish Farm. We were lucky to visit one with a gift shop full of cooking pamphlets penned by the local women. I flipped through one as I waited for our chance to walk through a wood-fired kitchen. A few pages in and I was made curious when I spotted a recipe for a chocolate cake with sauerkraut mixed right into the batter! Although it struck me as odd, I know better than to question the baking prowess of any Amish woman. I mean, have you tasted their butter? I’ve yet to find a sweet from their ovens that doesn’t cause me to close my eyes in foodie ecstasy. To my stomach wrenching regret, I realized several hours after we’d left and driven out of Pennsylvania that in my rush to see the kitchen I forgot to buy the recipe booklet!
A Must Try… Even if Just to Satisfy Curiosity
Over the years that cake has been on a register of recipes in my mind I am determined to try. I love sauerkraut. The fermented cabbage is a staple in our refrigerator ready to go to top my homemade seitan sausages. But recently I bought a different brand than usual with which my husband and I both were disappointed. It had no fennel seeds, was a thin shred, and didn’t have that tangy bite we prefer. I am not one to throw away perfectly good food, so with this unwise buy sprang opportunity!
There is such wisdom in the baking from “the olden days.” Less sugar, proper techniques, and special time-tested tricks can be discovered throughout recipes from mid-century. I relish finding old cookbooks from the 1950s and earlier because most of the recipes are inherently healthier and more wholesome. Portions were smaller, (or correct I should say), and ingredients were less processed.
Although the origins of this dessert seem to be unclear, the German contribution can’t be denied. It’s believed by some to have been created there then brought here to be carried on by the Amish. Others say it was invented in the 1960s here in the U.S. to make use of stockpiled cans of sauerkraut in school cafeterias. Then there are those who think it was stumbled on by an American housewife out of butter who needed to bake a moist cake. Whatever the origin, it’s delicious!
A Couple more Guiltless, Make-Ahead Halloween Dessert Options:
Less Calories, Lower Sugar. No Guilt!
But too many recipes I’ve come across for Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake call for loads of butter, a ton of sugar, and frosting prepared with fatty whipping cream. Mine however, is a less calorie, lower sugar version. The moisture from the sauerkraut reduces the need for extra fat such as butter or oil. But don’t worry, mincing it well ensures no stringy bites of cabbage. I top it with my Vegan fudgy frosting made of dark chocolate and creamy coconut milk, pantry staples I’m sure you have right now.
I promise you this cake will not only surprise you, but be a huge hit as a conversation starter! And besides, who can’t use a little extra fiber in their diet?
*The completed cake can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
* The frosting can be made 3 days in advance.
*The cake can be baked, cooled, and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.
Sauerkraut & Chocolate Cake with 3 Ingredient (Vegan) Fudgy Ganache
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained, not packed*
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 tbsp (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) coconut oil, or vegetable
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg white
- 1/2 cup cold water with 2 tsp instant espresso powder, or strong coffee, cooled
*Don’t use a sauerkraut that has fennel seeds or any added aromatics like onions, garlic etc. You want your basic kraut of cabbage. If you aren’t sure, just take a look at the ingredients list. It should have cabbage, salt (sodium), and some preservatives of course.
- 2/3 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips (Buy Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips at Target.com!)
- 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°
Tip: Start the frosting BEFORE beginning to make the cake. See Frosting Method below.
- Line an 8” round cake pan with parchment paper and spray sides with cooking spray. Set aside.
- To measure the sauerkraut use a fork and pull the cabbage from the jar and drop into your measuring cup. Fill a bowl (larger than the volume of your sauerkraut) with cold water. Add in your kraut and whisk a little with a fork. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the sauerkraut letting excess water drain, but don’t ring it out. Move it to a cutting board, mince, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Set aside.
- Combine the coffee/espresso powder & water mixture and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together (by hand is best as to not over-mix) sugar, oil, and cocoa powder. Add in the whole egg and whisk well until fully emulsified (combined). Next, do the same with the egg white.
- To combine the ingredients, basically alternate dry and wet, beginning and finishing with dry.
Pour in about 1/3 flour mixture over the oil mixture and whisk until a little combined.
Pour in 1/2 coffee mixture and whisk until almost combined.
Pour in 1/3 flour mixture, whisk until a little bit/
Pour in last 1/2 coffee mixture, whisk until almost combined.
Pour in last 1/3 flour mixture and whisk until fully combined.
- Fold in sauerkraut and pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 mins, set a timer.
- Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Pour your chocolate chips into a medium sized bowl. (If you will be using a stand mixer, do this in that bowl.)
- In a small saucepan heat coconut milk to a strong simmer. Pour over chocolate chips and let sit 1 min. Whisk to combine. Cover and move to the refrigerator for 45 mins to an hour, or until completely cooled. (This is why I like to start this before I start the cake.)
- Using a hand mixer 1 or 2 beater attachments depending on the size of your bowl, (or your stand mixer with beater attachment) beat until whipped and a little lighter in texture, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar and beat to combine. That’s it!
- Ice cooled cake.