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Healthy Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)

The long-awaited recipe has come!! Healthy Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes! Ooey-gooey, warm, rich chocolatey cakes conceal a molten lava chocolate center that flows out as a river of luscious, bold, silky dark chocolate. How can something this decadent and drool-worthy be healthy you may ask? Fear not, because these lava cakes are much healthier than your average ones! Vegan, gluten-free, and sweetened strictly with dates (that's right!), I've ditched the dairy, eggs, sugar, and gluten with these molten lava cakes in pursuit of something healthier yet still incredibly delicious. And wait- there's more! I've also hidden two unexpected veggies/legumes into these chocolate lava cakes (that you can't taste or detect whatsoever!), read on to find out which hidden veggies/ingredients I've used...



I mean, just look at that satiny drizzle! Also, notice something different? My friend Sergio took the amazing photos of these lava cakes in this post and did a legit professional-quality photoshoot for The Dimpled Date that helped me upgrade my photo game big time (no more blurry iPhone photos!!). Sergio's second-calling is photography, and his photography business is called Soul Shots. He's teaching me the tricks and I have my fingers crossed that I can live up to his skill. Sergio's website is currently in progress and I will announce when it launches! These photos 100% hands-down exceeded my expectations!


Notice something else different? (Don't worry, I'll be getting to the lava cakes shortly, I just have one last announcement to make!). I got my logo up on my website (check the homepage)! My good friend Steph brought my idea for The Dimpled Date logo to life, penned The Dimpled Date's tagline ("Guilt Free Never Tasted So Good"), and is basically giving my website a modern, sleek, artistic (and much-needed) makeover as well as using the latest innovations for the marketing of The Dimpled Date. Steph is a multi-talented modern renaissance woman whose career specialties include marketing, writing, and design. Steph and Sergio are the dream team couple who are helping me make my vision for The Dimpled Date fully-realized. Steph's blog is coming soon and I will announce when hers is released too! I am beyond happy with the design for my logo, and I feel like that little dimpled, blushing date really captures the essence of The Dimpled Date website; friendly, healthy, and comforting!


These molten lava cakes are perfect for Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day (amiright ladies?) (Anyone get the Parks and Recreation reference??), date night, anniversaries, birthdays, and really just about any occasion. Honestly, I often make these when there's no occasion at all because lava cakes.


I've created these lava cakes so not only is there a molten lava chocolate center courtesy of a little vegan, sugar-free dark chocolate, but I've also crafted the recipe so the actual cake itself is also gooey and under-baked yet still 100% edible and safe! As you may know, baked vegan recipes tend to be safe even if you under-bake them a little because they don't contain any raw eggs (which aren't safe to eat raw/undercooked). But there's still reason to be cautious with undercooked vegan baked goods because both conventional wheat flours and some gluten-free flours are not safe to eat under-baked in a baked good because during the growing/processing of the ingredients in these flours they can become contaminated with pathogens such as E. coli and others, that can cause food-borne illness and other diseases. Some gluten-free flours such as rice flour need to be fully baked in a baked good or heat-treated before using in a recipe because they can contain harmful bacteria. There are many gluten-free flours, however, that are safe to eat raw or under-baked in a baked good, including oat flour, almond flour, and coconut flour. These slightly-under-baked lava cakes are safe to eat because they are made without eggs and are made with only oat flour and almond flour. Plus, all the other ingredients in these lava cakes are ok to eat under-baked (even the beans, as they are cooked before being canned!) So, basically these lava cakes are under-baked yet edible and safe.


I bet you're wondering what the two hidden veggie/legume ingredients in these molten lava cakes are at this point, right? *drumroll*...


...


Beets and light red kidney beans (or black beans/beans of your choice)! Now I know what you're thinking and you most likely want to leave this site right now because how could I just go and taint a perfectly good lava cake like that?! But before you run off in disgust and utter shock hear me out: believe it or not, you can't taste the beets or kidney beans at all. You may have heard of black bean brownies, which surprisingly are very good because the chocolate and sweetener cover up the bean flavor, but I would argue that kidney beans (specifically the light red variety) are superior to black beans when it comes to desserts. This is because they are more mild in flavor than black beans and are starchier, which helps make for a creamier dessert with a better mouthfeel (AKA how the texture of a food feels in your mouth). That's why kidney bean brownies are a thing! In summary, you can't taste the kidney beans at all and the kidney beans are blended in the food processor first until ultra-creamy with no detectable bean skins, so you can't feel the beans in these lava cakes either. As for the beets, like beans, they are often paired with chocolate in desserts. Thus, you won't taste the beets whatsoever because the chocolate covers them up! And the beets are also blended in the food processor first into a smooth purée before adding to the lava cakes so there are no undesirable chunks of beets.


And the payoff to using beets and kidney beans in your lava cakes? A substantial nutritional boost, a better texture, and the beets lend a slightly richer reddish-brown hue to these lava cakes!


These decadent lava cakes melt in your mouth and have a full-bodied chocolate flavor thanks to both cacao powder and melted 100% pure dark chocolate in the cake itself and two squares of vegan, sugar-free dark chocolate pushed into the center of each cake before baking. What's more, they're also very sweet from a generous amount of Medjool dates!


100% vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and fruit-sweetened, these lava cakes are sure to impress in terms of appearance, nutrition, texture, and flavor. These lava cakes would be excellent topped with some coconut whipped cream, fresh berries, and dark chocolate shavings. Other garnish ideas are fresh mint, a drizzle of melted chocolate (or melted white chocolate; see my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate recipe!), or coarse sea salt. Enjoy these lava cakes with a glass of red wine, a vegan chocolate cocktail, or a flute of Prosecco!


And, to get the perfectly-shaped lava cake I used (shockingly) muffin tin cups greased with coconut oil. After the lava cakes are done baking, you just pop them out of the muffin tin, and serve them upside-down (see pictures).


To get the molten chocolate center for each of these cakes, you can use either two squares of vegan/sugar-free 100% dark chocolate or one piece of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate pushed into the center of each lava cake prior to baking.

By the way, the photo below is a cross-section of one of my Healthy Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes. Hungry yet?


Nutritional Profile of my Healthy Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes


Oat flour- oat flour (which is just finely ground oats) is rich in fiber, healthy carbohydrates, protein, and iron. Fiber is good for your digestive tract and heart health, while healthy complex carbohydrates give you high-quality long-lasting energy. Protein helps build muscle and iron helps builds red blood cells. Purchase specifically labeled gluten-free flour if it must be gluten-free. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often cross-contaminated with gluten-containing crops.


Almond flour- almond flour (which is essentially very finely ground almonds) is an excellent source healthy fats, protein, fiber, iron, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Healthy fats are good for heart health and brain health, protein is essential for nearly all bodily processes, and fiber lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol and promotes gut health. Iron builds red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, vitamin E is an antioxidant that is good for skin and hair health, and antioxidants help prevent disease by fighting free radicals (disease-causing particles). Almond flour is grain-free, paleo, and keto due to its being a nut flour and its low-carb, medium-protein, high-fat nutritional makeup (however this lava cake recipe is not grain-free, paleo, or keto since it contains oat flour and dates!).


Medjool dates- Medjool dates (or the "King of Dates") are a large, soft, sweet, caramel-y variety of date, and are my favorite type and my preferred variety to use on The Dimpled Date. Medjool dates are antioxidant powerhouses that are also a great source of fiber, protein, potassium, iron, magnesium, and other trace minerals. Fiber can help relieve constipation, lower LDL and total cholesterol, and feed beneficial gut bacteria. Protein helps build muscle as well as hair, skin, and nails. Potassium helps keep electrolytes balanced and lowers blood pressure. Iron helps build red blood cells, magnesium plays a role in energy creation, muscle movements, and the nervous system, and trace minerals generally are important for good health. Antioxidants help ward off disease. Make sure you choose fresh Medjool dates (like Natural Delights' whole fresh Medjool dates) that have no added sugar.


Cacao powder- cacao powder is loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, and minerals. Healthy fats are good for everything from cardiovascular health to nervous system health to keeping skin moisturized and healthy. Fiber helps promote healthy bowel movements. Protein is needed for building muscle and various bodily functions. Iron helps build red blood cells that transport oxygen through the bloodstream. Antioxidants fight free radical damage. Cacao powder is basically less-processed, more nutrient-dense cocoa powder but richer in flavor, color, and aroma. This is also why cacao powder is more of a deep red-brown color whereas cocoa powder is more light-brown.


100% chocolate- pure 100% chocolate is made of just cacao powder and cacao butter (the fat extracted from pressing cacao beans) with no added dairy, sugar, or other ingredients. It has the same nutritional benefits as cacao powder and cacao butter. Dark chocolate generally is good for boosting HDL or "good" cholesterol, improving mood, and helping reduce PMS symptoms.


Coconut oil- coconut oil is full of healthy fats (including MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides). Healthy fats broadly are good for your heart, brain, skin, and hair. MCTs have extra benefits including providing the body with quick energy. Opt for virgin cold-pressed coconut oil.


Sea salt- sea salt is better for you than table salt because it is less processed, and thus contains more minerals and nutrients. Sea salt is good for the adrenal glands, balances electrolytes, and nourishes the body with micronutrients. Choose Himalayan pink sea salt or another healthy sea salt.


Red beetroot- beetroot, or beets, are an incredibly nutrient-dense superfood brimming with fiber, protein, potassium, iron, vitamin C, folate, other minerals, and plentiful antioxidants. Fiber can block the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, promoting heart health. Protein is the main component of many body tissues, including muscles. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, iron builds hemoglobin for red blood cells, and vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system and stimulates collagen production. Folate is involved in various cellular processes and red blood cell health and helps prevent birth defects in babies. Antioxidants help fight off free radicals (disease-causing particles). Free radicals can contribute to diseases like heart disease and cancer, so eating antioxidant-rich foods may reduce your risk of these diseases. Also, beetroot is 87% water, so it is low in calories, making it a great nutrient-dense vegetable to incorporate into one's diet for weight loss. Beet can be used in everything from desserts to smoothies to soups (like creamy beet soup or borscht!) to salads and even entrées.


Kidney beans- kidney beans are chock-full of fiber (including prebiotics), slow-release carbohydrates, protein, iron, potassium, other minerals, and antioxidants. Fiber is heart-healthy, helps maintain a healthy digestive system, and prebiotics (considered a type of soluble fiber) nourish your microbiome (basically all the good bacteria that live in your gut and help keep you healthy). Furthermore, prebiotics help probiotics work better. Slow-release carbohydrates provide long-lasting energy whilst slowing the release of sugar into the bloodstream (in other words, no blood sugar spikes!). Protein helps build body tissue (both internal and external) and is responsible for nearly all bodily processes. Iron is responsible for building red blood cells, allowing oxygen to be transported throughout the body. Potassium balances electrolytes and regulates blood pressure. Antioxidants help protect against disease. Beans are an important source of protein for vegans. Not only are beans high in protein, but pairing any variety of bean with any kind of rice forms a complete protein, meaning you get all the essential amino acids your body needs in the right proportions for your body (translation: you get the vegan version of high-quality protein that, in terms of protein quality, is equivalent to eating meat!). Light red kidney beans are lighter in color and slightly more mild in flavor than dark red kidney beans. I personally prefer light red kidney beans over the dark red variety.


Unsweetened almond milk- almond milk is a good source of vitamin E, calcium and vitamin D (if fortified). Almonds naturally contain vitamin E, so all almond milks contain it too. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is good for your skin and hair, both externally and internally. Fun fact: if you have dry or cracked hands or a wound that won't heal, try breaking open a vitamin E gel capsule and squeezing it onto the desired area of skin, as this will moisturize and nourish your skin and speeds the healing of wounds. If fortified, almond milk contains calcium and vitamin D (typically even more calcium than an equal amount of cow's milk!). Calcium and vitamin D build strong, healthy bones, and vitamin D plays a role in the synthesis of serotonin, helping increase serotonin levels in the brain, potentially improving mood. Try purchasing unsweetened almond milks/plant milks, so you can maximize the benefits of them.



Substitutions


I wouldn't recommend substituting the oat flour or almond flour with anything else, as I have found they make the perfect, partially-baked, gooey lava cake. You may use non-gluten-free oat flour over gluten-free oat flour, if gluten isn't a strict issue. And I highly recommend using blanched superfine almond flour here, not unblanched/natural almond flour (also known as almond meal // Almond meal doesn't act the same as almond flour, and my recipe calls for almond flour because almond flour yields a more delicate, softer cake). The Medjool dates can be replaced with any other variety of date, like Deglet Noor dates. I cannot guarantee results with other sweeteners, as I haven't tried this recipe with sweeteners other than dates. Plus, dates add a lot more moisture to a recipe than granular sugars, yet a lot more structure and binding properties to a recipe than a sticky sweetener, like maple syrup. Nonetheless, if you choose to try a different sweetener in these lava cakes (like coconut sugar, maple syrup, erythritol, etc.), let me know how it turned out in the comments!


The cacao powder can be replaced with cocoa powder (either regular cocoa powder or dark/alkalized/Dutch-processed cocoa powder). The melted vegan/gluten-free/no-sugar-added 100% dark chocolate bar used for the cake itself can be replaced with a vegan, stevia-sweetened dark chocolate bar/chocolate chips (or another artificially-sweetened vegan dark chocolate) OR a vegan, gluten-free chocolate bar sweetened with an unrefined sweetener such as coconut sugar, maple sugar, turbinado sugar, etc. (if you can have these sweeteners on your diet). Vegan/gluten-free/unsweetened 100% dark chocolate is preferred, though, because it lends a rich chocolate flavor without adding too much extra sweetness to the already sweet lava cakes. The vanilla extract can be substituted with the equivalent amount of scraped vanilla bean, ground vanilla bean powder, or sugar-free vanilla bean paste. Alternately, you can try leaving out the vanilla altogether or replacing it with almond extract, coconut extract, or orange extract. I would still advise using the vanilla though because it is best for offsetting the rich chocolatey flavor.


You can try swapping any kind of healthy, neutral-flavored vegetable oil for the coconut oil, like pure avocado oil, safflower oil, or sunflower oil with varied results. The baking powder can't be substituted as it is the leavener in this recipe. The sea salt can be replaced with table salt or may be omitted. The canned red beets can be replaced with fresh red beetroot. I recommend roasting the fresh beetroot first because it will give it a more mild, pleasant flavor and make it softer and easier to work with (The Kitchn has a good recipe for 1-ingredient roasted beets!). The beets technically may be omitted, but I recommend using them for extra nutritional benefits. Otherwise you can attempt to use different colored beetroot, such as mild golden beets or baby beets with varied results.


As for the beans, I recommend light red kidney beans, as they are more mild than dark red kidney beans, but I have tried the recipe with dark red kidney beans, and it still tastes great. Or you could substitute black beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or another mild variety of bean. I just used canned light red kidney beans (which are already cooked) as opposed to cooking fresh ones myself, as the preparation of fresh beans is lengthy (and very specific since raw or undercooked fresh beans are toxic // FYI you don't have to worry about this with canned beans which are already 100% cooked and ready for consumption). And of course you can leave out the beans, but, again, I recommend using them for extra health benefits. You may use any kind of unsweetened plant milk, like oat milk, thin (cartoned, NOT CANNED) coconut milk, cashew milk, pea milk, hemp milk, etc. in place of the unsweetened almond milk. Or you can use any kind of sweetened plant milk if you can have sugar on your diet.


Lastly, the dark chocolate that you press into the center of each lava cake to make the "lava" can either be 2 squares of vegan/unsweetened 100% dark chocolate, 1 piece of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate, or 2 squares of your vegan dark chocolate of choice per cake. If you want to get creative, you can try using vegan/sugar-free white chocolate or vegan "milk" chocolate for the center of the lava cakes instead.


Sneak Peek of Recipes to Come...


I'm back friends! After a long hiatus of trying out recipes, improving my website, and focusing on school, I'm posting again! Things are gonna look a lot different around here soon (keep posted)..


And as always, I have my sneak peek of future recipes for you all to drool over! This time I'm including 8 recipes coming to The Dimpled Date soon:


-Vegan Gluten-Free Corn Muffins

-Keto Matcha Snickerdoodles

-Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

-Healthy Chunky Monkey Chia Pudding

-Golden Milk Granola

-Matcha Almond Granola (SOO good!)

-10-ingredient Grain-Free Date-Sweetened Pumpkin Pie

-Peppermint Bark Cupcakes (these are wickedly tasty)


And more!! (stay tuned, baking in progress..)


I hope you OBSESS over these lava cakes like I do, and enjoy these little chocolate volcanos of goodness.


Enjoy! <3

-K.



Healthy Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)


Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 to 55 minutes

Servings: 12 lava cakes


Ingredients:


-2 1/2 cups Medjool dates, soaked in hot water for 5-15 min

-1/2 cup vegan/unsweetened 100% dark chocolate, melted

-1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

-1 cup canned red beets, drained and puréed OR 1 cup roasted fresh red beetroot (see "Substitutions" section of post for roasted beetroot recipe, above), puréed (1/2 cup beet purée once puréed)*

-1/2 cup canned light red kidney beans (can sub canned dark red kidney beans) drained, rinsed, & puréed OR 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained, rinsed, & puréed*

-1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour

-1/2 cup blanched superfine almond flour, NOT packed

-1/2 cup cacao powder (can sub unsweetened cocoa powder)

-1 tsp baking powder

-pinch sea salt

-1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (can sub unsweetened plant milk of choice)

-12 pieces of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate (1 for each lava cake) OR 24 squares of a store-bought vegan/unsweetened 100% dark chocolate bar (2 for each lava cake) (for the center)


For greasing:

-coconut oil OR vegan butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko's)


Directions:


1. Make a batch of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate ahead of time, if using for the center of the lava cakes. Prep ingredients as indicated above. Grease a 12-cup standard-sized muffin tin OR 12 ramekins with coconut oil OR vegan butter. DO NOT line the muffin tin with cupcake liners.


2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.


3. Drain the soaking water from the dates and add the dates to a food processor. Blend the dates until a uniform paste forms, scraping down the sides and re-blending as necessary.


4. Add the melted 100% dark chocolate, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract to the food processor and blend until smooth and incorporated.


5. Add the kidney bean purée and beet purée and blend until uniform and creamy.


6. Add the dry ingredients (oat flour, almond flour, cacao powder, baking powder, and sea salt) and blend until just combined (DO NOT over-mix).


7. Make sure no attachments on the food processor are blocking the feeder tube hole. While the food processor is turned on, slowly drizzle the almond milk through the feeder tube hole and into the batter until just incorporated.


8. Scoop lava cake batter into each of the greased muffin cups/ramekins (filling each just shy of the top with batter).


9. Press 1 piece of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate OR 2 squares of 100% dark chocolate down into the center of each of the molten lava cakes (this will make the chocolate "lava" center). Using a spatula, smooth the batter overtop the pieces of embedded chocolate in each lava cake so the chocolate pieces are covered.


10. Bake in the preheated oven (at 375 degrees F) for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are solid.


11. Remove from the oven and allow the lava cakes to sit in the muffin tin/ramekins for at least 15 to 20 more minutes.


12. Run a knife around the edges of each of the lava cakes, then invert them onto a large plate or clean surface/countertop. Cool more as desired.


13. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream, coconut whipped cream, dark chocolate shavings, fresh berries, fresh mint, a drizzle of melted dark chocolate or melted white chocolate, sifted sugar-free powdered sweetener, and/or a drizzle of my coconut caramel sauce. A glass of red wine, a vegan chocolate cocktail, or a flute of Prosecco would also pair nicely with these molten chocolate lava cakes. Enjoy!


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 2 to 3 days.



*Tip: for puréeing the canned beets and beans, I just strain the amount I need of each, rinse them well under water and drain off the excess water, then add them to a food processor and blend until smooth and uniform, scraping down the sides as necessary. If using fresh beetroot, just take the cooked fresh beetroot, then add to the food processor in chunks or whole and purée to desired consistency.


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