Recipe: Valentine’s Day Sweet Potato Cake - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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Recipe: Valentine’s Day Sweet Potato Cake

It’s hard not to love sweet potatoes. These tasty tubers are available year-round, and they contain complex carbohydrates, as well as beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and even protein. The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranks them the most nutritious vegetable out there. They also have the lowest glycemic index among root vegetables, meaning they raise blood sugar slowly, and keep you satisfied longer. But as virtuous as they are, sweet potatoes are also a wonderful dessert ingredient—sweet, flavorful, and a beautiful color.

Their perfect partner? Dark chocolate. Like the sweet potato, it is both an indulgence and a heart-healthy super food. True dark chocolate, unlike milk chocolate, is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and heart-healthy flavonoids. Chocolate is also high in serotonin and endorphins. The more cocoa in the chocolate, the better. I use 75 percent or higher.

This recipe can be made into one big cake, two small ones, or a layer cake. For a layer cake you will need to double the frosting recipe. No matter what you decide, make sure you share some of this easy, good-for-you dessert with someone you love!

Keep in mind that though healthy and tasty, the cake may not offset the effects of the cream cheese frosting. If you are especially concerned with heart health, go light on the frosting, or use a touch of the delicious Italian cream cheese, mascarpone, as a light glaze. This cake is also delicious unfrosted.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sweet Potato Cake with Dark Chocolate Chips and Cream Cheese Frosting

Active prep time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 75 minutes
Serves: 8
  • 2¾ cups flour (Because this cake is moist feel free to substitute up to half with spelt or whole wheat flour.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, cooled
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (canola or grape-seed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup dark (or semi dark) chocolate chips or ½ cup chips and ½ cup nuts
For cream cheese frosting:
  • 12 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, Bundt pan, 10-inch spring-form pan, or two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. (Two cakes can be made into a layer cake.)
  3. Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt to be sure the spices are evenly dispersed throughout.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine sweet potatoes, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Beat until smooth. Add eggs two at a time, beating well between each time.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture ½ cup at a time and beat until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and mix to incorporate.
  6. Pour batter into greased pans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
  7. While cake is baking, prepare frosting. Place softened cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually add butter and continue blending until smooth. Slowly add confectioners' sugar and blend. Stir in vanilla.
  8. Let cake cool on wire rack and then frost.

Ariel Nadelberg is the chef of BBG's Terrace Café.

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Image, top of page: Sarah Schmidt