Several years ago, while my children were still very little, I use to make custom cakes for weddings, birthdays, etc. I loved baking and would often make cakes for friend’s and family member’s birthdays. I started getting orders from friends of friends and pretty soon, had a little side business working out of my home.
I made everything from scratch, buying pounds of butter, sugar, flour and dozens of eggs on each trip to the grocery store. Many of the cakes I made were similar to pound cakes and because they were more dense, stacked well and could be cut into shapes easily without falling apart.
Do you know why they’re called pound cakes? Because they call for a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs! Add that to the loads of butter and powdered sugar in the buttercream and you have almost a whole stick of butter and cup of sugar in each slice. Yikes!
I was determined to create a cake that was gluten-free, made with healthier ingredients, and still be not only edible, but delicious! I mean, what’s the point of eating cake if it doesn’t taste good?!
This recipe is very loosely based off of an old chocolate cake recipe I used all the time. The original recipe uses regular flour, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, and sour cream, which I replaced with gluten free flour, pure maple syrup, flax meal, coconut oil, and mashed avocado.
I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, which is a combination of dutch and regular cocoas. I suggest using a dark cocoa powder to achieve the rich flavor that makes this cake so decadent.
I paired the cake with this easy and delicious whipped ganache, which only has two ingredients. TWO INGREDIENTS, PEOPLE! Chocolate chips and coconut milk are all that is needed to make this fluffy masterpiece. (If you need dairy-free chocolate chips, I like this Enjoy Life brand.)
Ganache is essentially heavy cream mixed with melted chocolate to make a thick glaze, which is great on cakes and truffles. This ganache is made dairy-free by substituting heavy cream with coconut milk. Instead of using it as a glaze, it’s then whipped up and becomes fluffy by incorporating air.
I adapted a recipe I found on Pastry Affair. (Thanks, Kristin!) This was the first time I’ve been able to achieve a fluffy buttercream without the use of powdered sugar or egg whites! It’s not a very sweet frosting, which also depends on the type of chocolate chips you use. I used dark chocolate chips, and although rich, it was absolutely AH-mazing and is my new go-to chocolate frosting!
When frosting the cakes, I like to place some pieces of parchment paper under the edge of the bottom layer, just to help keep the plate clean. Trust me, frosting a cake can get pretty messy and you’ll be happy you took the extra step when after you finish frosting and remove the parchment your plate is still squeaky clean!
I love garnishing my cakes with fresh fruit. It’s not only pretty, it also helps to offset the richness of the cake.
Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is my favorite combo, but it can also be super rich. A small piece goes a long way. Make sure to also have some milk on hand to wash it down! I drink almond milk and I must have some handy whenever I eat a sweet treat.
Cake without milk is like coffee without cream, peanut butter without jelly, bread without butter…Gasp!
This cake is:
not too sweet
and perfectly chocolatey
It’s the BEST vegan & gluten-free chocolate cake EVER, and I hope you try it for yourselves! Enjoy, friends!
- 2 flax eggs: 2 tablespoons ground flax and 6 tablespoons water (or two large eggs if not vegan)
- 2 cups gf flour, I use King Arthur Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour (OR if not gluten free use 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch)
- ½ cup dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup Coconut Oil, melted or Olive Oil
- 1 small ripe avocado, mashed well (no chunks)
- 1 cup Pure Maple Syrup
- ¾ cup strong coffee (just to enhance chocolate flavor, but you can also use water or almond milk)
- ½ tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- parchment paper, extra coconut oil and flour for cake pans
- ½ - ⅔ cup full-fat coconut milk (use less for thicker frosting)
- 10-12 oz bag of quality semi-sweet chocolate chips* (For dairy-free, I like Enjoy Life brand)
- *Milk or white chocolate will work as well.
- **To get the 3-layer cake like in the photo, I used one and a half of this cake and ganache recipe. This recipe alone makes two 8-inch round cakes and enough frosting to frost two cakes OR 1½ dozen cupcakes.
- Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans with coconut oil or palm shortening. Line the bottom with parchment paper and use a knife to cut out a circle to fit the bottom of the pan. Parchment paper helps the cake not to stick to the bottom of the pan. Grease top of parchment paper and then lightly dust the pan with flour. Set aside until needed.
- Make flax eggs by combining ground flax and water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken. Can also substitute 2 regular large eggs if not vegan or egg sensitive.
- Preheat oven to 325F. In a large mixing bow, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir together and then add in flax eggs/regular eggs, coconut oil, mashed avocado, maple syrup, coffee, vinegar, and vanilla. (Make sure your avocado mash is free of any clumps. You can puree the avocado in a food processor or push through a sieve with a rubber scrapper if it is clumpy.) Mix together until thoroughly combined. Use a rubber scrapper to stir the bottom of bowl, making sure to mix in any excess flour.
- Evenly distribute batter into the two cake pans. Place on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, just until the center of the cake is set and no longer jiggly. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let pans thoroughly cool on cooling racks.
- While the cakes are baking, you can begin making the ganache. This frosting takes a little over an hour overall, so keep that in mind if you're pressed for time. Heat the coconut milk and chocolate over a double boiler until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. If your coconut milk has the thick cream and liquid separated, I like to use the hardened coconut cream to create a thick and fluffy frosting. You can still use regular coconut milk from the can, but I would start with the lesser amount of ½ cup and add more while mixing, if necessary. If using a 10 oz. bag of chocolate chips begin with the lesser amount of ½ cup coconut milk as well. You can use the full ⅔ milk if you want frosting that is a little more loose and easy to spread. Cover and place mixture into the fridge or freezer for 1 hour or until chilled and firm.
- After the chocolate mixture is cold, scoop into a mixing bowl and beat on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. If needed, add extra milk a little at a time while mixing, until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- The cakes must be thoroughly cooled before frosting or the frosting will melt off. When you remove the cake from the pan, use a knife of offset spatular around the edge of the cake if it is sticking to the pan. Carefully flip onto a plate or rack, removing the parchment paper round that may come out of the pan with the cake.
- Place your first layer on a cake plate or serving platter. I like to place additional pieces of parchment paper just under the edge around the bottom layer to keep the frosting from getting on the serving plate (Like in the photo above.) Place a dollop of frosting on the bottom layer and use an offset spatula or rubber scrapper to spread the frosting evenly across the layer. Place the other layer on top and repeat, frosting the sides of cake with remaining whipped ganache. Carefully remove parchment pieces from around the cake and serve. I like to serve slices with fresh berries, which helps balance the richness of the chocolate. Depending on the size of the slices cut, this cake serves 8-10 people.
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