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Chocolate Peanut Cake with Chocolate Aquafaba Frosting

This cake reminds me of the Reese's peanut-butter cups I used to stock up on for Halloween with the hopes that the kids wouldn't get them all. The light cake balances two of my favorite flavors: chocolate and peanut butter. The rich frosting is all chocolate. This sheet cake is easier to make and travels better than a layer cake, perfect for potlucks and sharing.

Chocolate Peanut Cake with Chocolate Aquafaba Frosting

This year, I'm baking Chocolate Peanut Cake to celebrate Earth Day because it highlights so many green Cook for Good practices, with three rescued ingredients from food too often wasted. It's also organic,  whole grain, and plant-based.

Active time: 35 minutes. Total time: 2 hours. Serves 18. Vegan (dairy-free, egg-free).

Chocolate Peanut Cake

3 cups white whole whole wheat flour (360 grams)
1/2 cup natural cacao powder or cocoa powder (48 grams) (learn about the difference here)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 ground chipotle
2 cups brown sugar (440 grams)
2/3 cup peanut oil (140 grams)
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups water

Chocolate Aquafaba Frosting

2/3 cup minus 1 teaspoon organic whipped buttery spread
    OR  1/2 cup regular buttery stick (either one is 4 ounces or 113 grams)
1 cup natural cacao powder or cocoa powder (80 grams)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (300 grams)
1/3 cup chickpea aquafaba (or water plus one extra teaspoon buttery spread)
1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Make cake. Heat oven to 350°F. Use a fork to stir flour, cacao, baking soda, salt, and chipotle together in a large bowl to combine. Stir in brown sugar, using the back of a spoon to break up lumps if needed.
  2. Pour remaining cake ingredients into flour mixture and stir just until well combined. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. 
  3. Make frosting. Put buttery spread in a mixing bowl to soften for a few minutes. Mix on medium speed until smooth.

    Use aquafaba instead of cow's milk or plant milk for rich yet thrifty chocolate frosting.

  4. Add powdered sugar, cacao, and aquafaba. Mix on low speed until well combined, then mix on medium for a minute until fluffy and smooth. Add vanilla, mix to combine, and taste. Are you dancing for joy? If not, mix in a tiny pinch salt or another teaspoon cacao and taste again.
  5. Put them together. Cake is done when top is firm, with tiny air bubbles in the center as well as on the edges and when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for about an hour, then spread with frosting. Don't rush or the frosting will melt.

    Cake is done when tiny air bubbles appear in the center

  6. Serve cake at room temperature within about an hour or cover and refrigerate to keep frosting from getting too soft. Best served at room temperature. Keeps for longer than it lasts, probably up to a week.

Cacao Peanut Cake - vegan

Make a difference when you cook

In the United States, people waste about one-third of the edible food that comes their way. We can not only reduce that number dramatically, we can also stretch the definitation of what is edible. This cake uses three ingredients that I used to just throw away.

Saved peanut oil, aquafaba, and homemade apple cider vinegar make this eco cake thrifty and green.

  • Rescued ingredient 1: peanut oil. I buy peanut butter that only has peanuts in it, with no stablizers or fillers. Before I stir it up, I take out a tablespoon or so of peanut oil that has risen to the top of the jar and add a little sorghum and salt (see recipe). The oil goes into a jar in the refrigerator to be used in this cake or in stir fries. If you want to make this cake before you've saved up enough oil, use bottled oil.
  • Rescued ingredient 2: apple peels and cores for apple-cinder vinegar. It's so easy to make apple-cider vinegar at home and get extra value from your organic apples. If you don't have home-made on hand now, use bottled organic apple-cider vinegar.
  • Rescued ingredient 3: aquafaba or chickpea broth. Amazingly, chickpea broth saved from cooking chickpeas replaces the cows' milk or coconut drink I've used in previous versions of this frosting. This aquafaba adds mellowing protein to the frosting and a little salt for zing. The aquafaba tastes better than any alternatives and is essentially free, given that I used to pour it down the drain. See my main aquafaba page for tips and other recipes. Also see the amazing Facebook page Vegan Meringue - Hits and Misses!. Thanks to Goose Wohlt and the creative community of aquafaba enthusiasts for sharing their inspiring experimentation.
  • Less packaging and waste. The rescued ingredients don't use any packaging, transportation, or advertising. This reduces the carbon footprint of this cake.
  • Organic whenever possible. I cook with organic ingredients for my own health and for the health of farm workers and the planet. My Whole Foods quit carrying organic cocoa powder, so I bought Healthworks organic cacao powder online. I also use Earth Balance organic whipped buttery spread and measure it with a kitchen scale because they don't carry an organic buttery stick or spread.

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