#AfroVegan Cocoa-Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache [Recipe]

This past Monday, Uptown Soul Food had the pleasure of hosting a Food Tasting & Book Signing with Chef Bryant Terry. We served three dishes from Bryant’s ‘Spring Salad Buffet Menu’ and every dish was amazing! Although we loved each of the recipes we prepared, I wanted to share this amazing recipe, directly adopted from the pages of Afro Vegan: the Cocoa-Spice Cake w/ Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache. Be sure to check out other recipes in Bryant’s new book Afro Vegan! View photos from our books signing here!


Nutmeg, Coconut Milk, Avocado, Jamaican Rum, Crystallized Ginger

Yield: 8 to 16 servings

Soundtrack: “Marcus Garvey” by Burning Spear from Marcus Garvey/Garvey’s Ghost

Book: The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin

Cocoa Spice Cake--Credit Paige Green

Cocoa Spice Cake–Credit Paige Green



¼ cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for oiling

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon fine raw cane sugar

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)

11⁄4 teaspoons baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Scant 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut milk

1⁄4 cup packed mashed ripe avocado (about 1⁄2 medium avocado)

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark Jamaican rum

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces crystallized ginger, finely chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)


5 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, finely chopped

3⁄4 cup coconut milk

5 tablespoons raw cane sugar

1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dark Jamaican rum (optional)

12 thin slices crystallized ginger

Whenever I serve this cake, folks can’t believe it’s vegan, and they always get a kick out of it when I tell them that I include avocado to add moisture and natural creaminess. My assistant, Amanda Yee, came up with the idea of pouring a coconut-chocolate ganache over the cake. You can stop there and enjoy chocolaty bliss, or take it to the next level by pairing it with Vanilla Spice Rum Shakes (opposite). (Pictured on page 172.)

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil an 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides. 

Sift the sugar, flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg into a large bowl and stir with a whisk until well blended. 

Put the coconut milk, oil, avocado, rum, vinegar, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until smooth (or put them in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients and the ginger. Fold together until uniformly mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Slide a butter knife around the edge, then invert the cake onto a rack and let cool to room temperature. 

To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Put the coconut milk, sugar, and cayenne in a small saucepan and heat until steaming hot (avoid boiling), stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly pour over the chocolate and let stand until the chocolate is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rum and whisk until completely smooth. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until slightly cooled but pourable, about 5 minutes. 

To glaze the cake, pour the ganache evenly over the cake and let stand until the ganache is set, about 30 minutes. Garnish with the ginger slices.



#AfroVegan Book Signing & Food Tasting With Chef Bryant Terry [Photos & Mix Included]

On Monday, April 28, 2014, 70+ people gathered at Soup Factory Studio for the Supper Club to celebrate Bryant Terry’s fourth book, Afro Vegan:Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. Bryant Terry is a chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. In regard to his work, Bryant’s mentor Alice Waters says, “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.”

Bryant is also the author of the critically acclaimed Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine, which was named one of the best vegetarian/vegan cookbooks of the last 25 years by Cooking Light Magazine. Bryant also authored The Inspired Vegan, and he coauthored Grub (with Anna Lappe), which The New York Times called “ingenious.” Bryant is also proud to have served as the “humanities advisor” on the Between Meals cookbook project, which shares the recipes and stories of newly-arrived refugee and immigrant women and explores how they have nourished their families in the US.

The night started out with a food tasting including three dishes from Bryant’s Spring Salad Buffet (p. 198): All-Green Spring Slaw (page 74), Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad (page 102), and Verdant Vegetable Couscous with Spicy Mustard Greens (page 133). After the food tasting, Bryant jumped right into a speech discussing his relationship with food, the inspiration behind his work, history of African American culinary traditions, and more! His talk was very inspiring and moving (as expected).

Check out photos from the Supper Club captured by our photographer Darren Burton (@darrenburton_).

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If you follow Bryant’s work, you know each recipe is accompanied with a soundtrack, movie, or book pairing. Check out the official Supper Club Mix featuring music inspired by Afro Vegan (by Darren Burton). Click here to download the mixtape!

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Supper Club! The Uptown Soul Food team had an amazing time and we hope you all did too! I’d like to extend a special thank you to Ten Speed Press, Impact Hub Philly, Char Nolan, Black Eye Soup Studio, and Big Blue Marble, Darren Burton and Bryant Terry!

Prep Pad for Countertop [From the Orange Chef Company]

Prep Pad for Countertop from The Orange Chef Company on Vimeo.

Prep Pad is the smart food scale that gives you real-time nutritional insight into your food so you can understand what you eat and make better decisions. Use it to create balanced meals through beautiful visualizations of protein, carbs, fats, and everything else. Prep Pad requires the Countertop app, available for free on the App Store.


Apple-Cinnamon Walnut Muffins Inspired by Sheila Ferguson

One of the most common questions I get about transitioning into a plant-based diet is “how to substitute dairy products?” Ironically, it is the easiest question to answer. When it comes to non-dairy milks, butters, etc., the market is overcrowded with alternatives. Each week, I will post a “vegan version” of a recipe inspired by a soul food cookbook or chef using plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy products. If you are truly interested in incorporating more plant-based foods in your diet, I believe these “transition recipes” will be a great place to start.

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Celebrate African Heritage & Health Week: February 1-7


(Adopted from www.oldwayspt.orgTo commemorate Black History Month, Oldways is challenging everyone, everywhere to enjoy at least one dish, at home or at a local restaurant, that is inspired by the cuisines of African-American ancestors and Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid. Oldways has created the African Heritage Diet Pyramid with the help and knowledge of experts in African American and African Diasporan history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health. This healthy eating model was designed specifically for African Americans, and African descendant populations everywhere, to introduce them to their Healthy Heritage. It can also be used by anyone wanting to use heritage as a guide to eating well. The Pyramid celebrates the individual foods and the traditional healthy eating patterns of African Heritage, with roots in America, Africa, the Caribbean, or South America.

Celebrate African Heritage & Health Week with Uptown Soul Food by cooking plant-based versions of some of your favorite dishes associated with the African Diaspora. Start by adding leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens to your meals. Check out our Red Pepper Collard Greens with Pinto Beans to get your start! Check out our blog at www.uptownsoulfood.tumblr.com throughout the week for recipes, music, and more!

Red Pepper Collard Greens with Pinto Beans (Serves 6-8)

This soul food favorite is usually prepared with ham hock or turkey butt. Try this cholesterol-free alternative and enjoy the same great dish with a slice of cornbread.


3-4 bunches of stemmed, rinsed, and cut collard greens

4 cups of vegetable stock (store brought or homemade)

4 tbsp of olive oil

3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

1 cup chopped red onions

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp black pepper

2 cups of pinto beans (sorted, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed); can be substituted with canned beans

Sea salt

Red Pepper Collard Greens

Red Pepper Collard Greens


In a small sauté-pan, warm 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add ½ cup of red onion to pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine two cups of pinto beans and 3 cups of vegetable stock. Add cooked red onions and 1 tsp of black pepper to pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to low heat. Cook 90-120 minutes or until beans are tender (If substituting dry beans with canned beans, cook for about 10-15 minutes). Add Sea salt before beans are done.

In medium sized saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tbsp of salt. Add greens and bring to a boil, uncovered until greens are softened. Drain greens into a colander and set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine remaining olive oil, garlic, remaining onions, cayenne pepper, red pepper and remaining black pepper. Sauté the ingredients for 2-3 minutes. Add collard greens and pinto beans to the saucepan.

Add 1 cup of vegetable stock and stir ingredients. On high heat, bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes. Top with sea salt.


For more information about African Heritage & Health Week, check out Oldways for recipes, tips and more.