8 min read
12 Aug

Sometimes you just need a big, fat piece of something chocolaty, and decadent, and rich, and this is definitely that something that hits all the right sweet spots to our cravings. If you plan to make chocolate cake from scratch, congrats! You are executing great life choices. While the task of whipping up a chocolate cake from nothing may seem daunting, I assure you that you are completely capable. Having a great vegan chocolate cake recipe in your back pocket comes in super handy for afternoon cravings, entertaining house guests, or attending parties. I have wanted to bake a delicious vegan and gluten – free chocolatey cake for a long time and finally this is the recipe what I came up with. It totally hits the chocolate sweet spot, this is a rich, sweet, and full of chocolate flavor!

Chocolate cake is ever popular for good reason. The people love chocolate. And while there is no shortage of vegan cake recipes out there, you can ensure better results by knowing some of the less talked about secrets to making the best chocolate cake. Therefore, I will be sharing not only my delicious vegan and gluten – free chocolate cake recipe, but I will be also sharing with you valuable tips and tricks for baking the perfect cake.

So let me know what you think of these vegan and gluten - free chocolate cake in the comments section below -thanks so much! In order for you to stay updated with all my latest vegan recipes and baking posts – give a follow to my Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/siggyblog/

The Ingredients

2 Cups All - Purpose Flour 

(for gluten - free option use half almond flour and coconut flour, or gluten - free all - purpose flour )

2 Cups Vegan Caster Sugar (or coconut sugar)

3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Melted Earth Balance Vegan Butter

2 Tbs Ground Flax Seed

1 Cup Almond Milk

1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)

1 Cup Black Coffee

1/8 Cup Agave or Maple Syrup

3/4 Cup Vegan Dark Chocolate (chopped into pieces) - optional

The Glaze 

1 Cup Peanut Butter (tablespoon of coconut oil)

200 g Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao (tablespoon of coconut oil)

The Peanut Butter Frosting

1 Cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter

1 Cup Peanut Butter

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 - 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Yield: 12 cake slices

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (375 F). Prepare your cake forms by spraying with cooking or coconut oil and placing baking paper on your cake forms. I used a 3D silicon cake mold, but you can also use a 9-inch pans to make this cake 3 layers. You can do as many layers as you wish. You could also use a spring form pan to make this cake, cutting the layers after. Before we get started make sure that all your ingredients are on room temperature – I have mentioned this in all my previous recipes that room temperature ingredients help you to get unbelievable baking result.

We start by mixing together almond milk and apple cider vinegar - whisk to combine. Then slowly one by one in the melted room temperature vegan butter, coffee, and flax egg. Mix well to combine, you can also use a hand mixer on medium speed to mix the mixture – but make sure you do not over mix the batty. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon powder, and cocoa. I personally love mixing coffee and chocolate together but if you don’t, you don’t want to use coffee – you can use water instead. Once all the dry ingredients are well combined add sugar in to the dry ingredients mixture. Now slowly combine wet and dry ingredients either by hand whisk or use a hand mixer on slow setting to combine the ingredients - mix until thoroughly combined. If you wish, you can now add the dark chocolate chips into the cake mix (but make sure the chocolate pieces are not too big, otherwise your cake wont bake evenly) - I would advice to your chocolate chips in this case. 

Pour into your cake form ( I used a 3D silicon cake form) – you can also use an 9 inch cake pan or a spring form pan. You could also divide evenly between 2 pie pans for 2 layers. Once you have managed to put all the cake mixture into the form - gently tap on counter to release any air bubbles in the mixture. Bake in he oven on 190 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick placed in center comes out clean. If by any chance you see that your cake is starting to burn on top – place a baking paper on top of the cake to cover it, that will help the cake not to burn on top. Once the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and let it cool down on room temperature before moving it from the cake form. Make sure your cake is fully cooled down before cutting it or decorating with the peanut butter cream.

While your cake is cooling down – lets us prepare the peanut butter frosting. For frosting, use a handheld or counter-top mixer to whip peanut butter, vegan butter, and sweetener until smooth (all ingredients have to be on room temperature to make sure they combine well). Once combined, place the frosting into the fridge until you can use it to decorate the cooled down cake. If frosting gets too hard in the fridge, just let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes, then give it a good stir. For this chocolate cake I decided to garnish with a peanut butter chocolate glaze (you can use the peanut butter frosting for a layered chocolate cake, however I made a one layer cake – therefore I used a glaze garnish). For the glaze garnish simply melt the peanut butter on a hot boiling water with coconut oil, and then separately melt the chocolate with coconut oil. Once both smooth and melted – slowly cover the top of your cake with peanut butter and then cover with chocolate sauce. Leave the cake to cool down in the fridge for the glaze to set.

When the cake is cool, carefully cut horizontally in half to make two layers. (if you didn't use 2 pans), or if you chose to use a 3D silicon cake mold – just remove the cake from the mold. Spread the frosting evenly between your cake layers, I used the whole frosting to cover my cake from the to only. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate sauce ( you can find the recipe for that from this link ) and top up with any of your favorite nuts. And the cake is ready! Enjoy

'  Use high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder '

Chocolate cake is beloved for its deep, rich flavor. As such, be sure to use the highest quality cocoa you can find. The darker the hue of the cocoa, the more satisfying the chocolate flavor will be. Keep in mind that unsweetened cocoa powder (is vegan) for baking is different than standard cocoa powder (is not vegan at all), as the latter is used for making hot chocolate and contains sugar or milk powders. Using pure unsweetened cocoa lets you accurately gauge how much additional sugar you want to add.

' Use high – quality vegan dark chocolate ' 

Whether you're using chocolate to make your batter, frosting, or filling, you definitely want to splurge on high-quality chocolate. The type and grade of chocolate you use will affect how your finished chocolate cake tastes, and isn't that just about everything? My rule of thumb is to make my chocolate cakes with the kind of chocolate I would be happy to snack on from a bowl. That said, the baking aisle can be confusing with its shelf up on shelf of chocolate. What you choose to buy depends on what you plan to do with the chocolate, 99% of the time I personally use a 70% dark chocolate for my cooking – it does give a excellent chocolate taste.

'  Use shiny pans or silicon cake forms to bake chocolate cake rather than dark ones '

There are so many cake pans to choose from, but I find that chocolate cakes fare best when baked in shiny ones and in silicon cake forms, since dark ones absorb more of the oven's heat—kind of the way that dark clothing absorbs more heat from sunlight. This is the reason some recipes will say to use shiny aluminum foil to deflect some of the heat to prevent premature over-browning. The shininess reflects the heat. A dark pan does quite the opposite, which can cause your chocolate cake to brown too early around the edges and create a hard crust on the surface and general dryness. I use shiny pans all the time – for my brownies and other cakes. While some bakers opt for dark pans because they desire the nonstick properties, any pan can be rendered perfectly nonstick with the proper preparation. Think about greasing, lining, and dusting with flour or cocoa. Choose a pan with a lighter finish for the best chocolate cake finish.

' Check your oven temperature and cookie dough portions '

The number one component of any baked good: a trustworthy oven. If you bake often, you can tell by the heat radiating out of the cracked oven door whether or not the oven is to temperature or not. You can purchase an oven thermometer to leave in your oven, so you know when it is at the correct temperature. Check your oven temperature by setting it to 180 degrees and then after 10 minutes measure the actual heat using a thermometer. This will help you know whether your oven runs a bit hotter or cooler and so you can adjust baking times and temperatures accordingly. Always pre-heat your oven so items go in at the right temperature. Size matters, and consistency is key. Purchase ice cream scoops to help get perfect portions of dough. I recommend a 1/4 cup or 4 oz. cookie. This is the perfect size. Tip for big cookies: gently flatten the tops slightly for the perfect bake on this size of cookie.

'  Dust your parchment-lined pan with cocoa instead of flour '

Related to the last point about pan prep, many recipes will cue for you to dust your greased and lined pan with flour. This also helps with getting a clean release after baking. That said, when I make chocolate cake, I find that cocoa powder works in much the same way flour does. Dust your pan with cocoa for ease as well as extra chocolatey flavor.

' Measure flour and sugar carefully '

While you may already know that measurements matter a lot when you're baking, you may not realize just how much measurements of sugar and flour can really affect your finished chocolate cake. Using too much sugar in chocolate cake can result in a crust that's too dark. On the other hand, not using enough sugar can prevent your cake from gaining a dark enough hue, and also make the texture tough. As for flour, adding too much to the batter will cause the top of the cake to crack, which isn't devastating, but also not exactly desirable. Whenever possible, try to measure sugars and flour by weight. If you don't have a kitchen scale or the recipe does not indicate the measurements in weight, you can do a couple of things to help get the most accurate results in volume. With granulated sugar that's not packed and flour, spoon them into the measuring cup, then gently flatten the top with the flat edge of a knife to remove any excess.

' Use room temperature ingredients '

While you can use ingredients directly from the fridge, the result simply won't be as good. Certain recipes call for ingredients like plant-based yogurt, vegan butter, and plant – based milk to be at room temperature but many people ignore this step. No! Don’t! Room temperature isn’t listed next to ingredients for fun. Recipe authors aren’t trying to make your life difficult. There’s science and legitimate reason behind the importance of temperature when baking. Which brings me to my number one baking rule - if a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, use room temperature ingredients. There is no way around this and if you use, say, cold butter or cold milk when they should be room temperature– your recipe won’t live up to its potential. And it most certainly won’t taste the way it should. When at room temperature milk, butter, and other ingredients form an emulsion which traps air. While baking in the oven, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked good. Plan to leave these ingredients out on the counter ahead of baking and you'll see the difference by way of a lighter crumb when you bite into your chocolate cake.

'  Take the time to cream the butter and sugar thoroughly '

In order to ensure that your cake turns out light and fluffy, be sure to cream the butter and sugar thoroughly before adding other ingredients to the batter. This might take minutes instead of seconds, but the time is totally worth it. Beating the sugar and butter base until it's pale in color and fluffy in texture signifies that you have incorporated a significant amount of air into the mixture, which results in fluffier cake.

'  Invest in an oven – thermometer '

The number one component of any baked good: a trustworthy oven. If you bake often, you can tell by the heat radiating out of the cracked oven door whether or not the oven is to temperature or not. You can purchase an oven thermometer to leave in your oven, so you know when it is at the correct temperature. Check your oven temperature by setting it to 180 degrees and then after 10 minutes measure the actual heat using a thermometer. This will help you know whether your oven runs a bit hotter or cooler and so you can adjust baking times and temperatures accordingly. Always pre-heat your oven so items go in at the right temperature.

' That plant – based milk component '

Most chocolate cake recipes will call for milk or some other type of soft or liquid dairy. Milk helps the cake get its creamy texture. That said, you can certainly play around and experiment with different types of plant – based milks, coconut cream or vegan in place of milk. The acidity in these other substitutions pair especially well with the richness of chocolate cake. I have seen that mostly coconut or almond milk are the two best milks to use for cake baking.

' Start and end with the dry ingredients '

When you're adding the wet and dry ingredients to your creamed butter and sugar mixture for chocolate cake, be sure to alternate between the dry and the wet, beginning and ending with the dry. Why? Whipped vegan butter can't absorb the liquid very well, so the batter will become inundated with wetness and the liquid will remain on top instead of incorporated. If you then follow with all of the dry ingredients, the cake batter will become heavy and you'll end up with a dense cake. To avoid a cake that's heavy like a brick, add part of the dry ingredients first and mix until just incorporated. Follow with the liquid and finish with the dry ingredients.

' Fresh ingredients '

Chances are, if you bake frequently, this doesn’t apply. But if you are an infrequent baker and haven’t made cakes or cookies in a year… don’t leave your once-a-year batch up to some ingredients that have been hanging out in your pantry for more than 6 months. Flours can take on flavors from those spoiling bananas you meant to use for banana bread, and so on. Keep those baking ingredients up to date, especially leavening ingredients like baking soda. Fresher ingredients, (butter that hasn’t been frozen), nuts that haven’t been frozen, etc. will always make a better cake!

' Carefully consider the filling and don't skimp '

Chocolate cake is rich and decadent. That's why we love it so much! That said, most varieties benefit greatly from being paired with fillings and frostings that balance out their richness, add intrigue to the chocolate notes, or otherwise complement the cocoa flavors. To cut through chocolate cake's natural richness, opt for fun contrasting fillings. Whether you use a fruit-based one, irresistible dulce de leche, or simple vanilla cream, carefully consider how the flavors will mingle.

' Let the cake cool completely before frosting '

In my youth, I frosted a number of not-yet-cooled cakes to disastrous results. While it may seem obvious that even a slightly warm cake will melt the frosting off during the frosting process, my impatience meant I just couldn't wait to finish my cakes! Of course, you should allow your chocolate cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you have the time to do so, you can also wrap the room temperature cake in plastic and place it in the fridge overnight. This prevents crumbing, making the surface nice and smooth for applying icing. Moreover, the cake will be infinitely easier to slice through.

' Be extra cautious about timing '

Timing is always important when you're baking anything, but especially so with chocolate cake. I have found that chocolate cake tends to be more susceptible to drying out due to the addition of cocoa in the batter. One of the joys of chocolate cake consumption is the moistness of its crumb. To avoid dry, sad cakes, do everything you can to mind the time and avoid over baking. If a recipe gives you a time range for baking, check the cake for doneness closer to the fastest time. Erring slightly on the side of under baked is preferable to over baked. An over baked chocolate cake is done for, but a just under baked one will still finish baking in the pan's heat out of the oven and remain creamy on the inside.

' Avoid opening the oven door during baking '

While it may be tempting to open the oven door to check on your chocolate cake's progress during baking, try to withstand the urge. The more you open the door to look, the more heat escapes, altering the temperature of the oven and leading to uneven baking. You should make an extra effort not to open the oven door in the first 20 minutes of baking to give the batter a chance to properly set. After that, only open to check for doneness toward the end, rather than multiple times during.

' Pat the cake pan/form on the counter a few times before transferring to the oven

 and dont over mix the batter '

Attention to detail results in better chocolate cake. Once you have transferred the batter to your meticulously prepared cake pan, take the extra step to tap the bottom of the pan on the kitchen counter or another hard surface to eliminate any remaining air bubbles in the batter and even out the surface. Doing so ensures even baking. Do not over mix your batter - This rule applies to baked goods across the board. Mix your batter until just combined – and not any longer – or your cake will be dense. There is no need to leave your mixer running - it doesn't make the cake any better. Once all of the wet ingredients are added and you are ready to incorporate your flour, stir or beat the flour in until it is just incorporated. Over mixing the flour will make for a tough and less appetizing cake. As with most cakes, chocolate cake batter should not be over mixed. While you may feel the impulse to make sure every ingredient is completely blended, a heavy mixing hand leads to tough cake textures. Instead, mix only until dry ingredients are 99.8 percent incorporated. You need to be extra careful about not over mixing if you're using an electric mixer. To prevent myself from getting overzealous with the mixing, I often incorporate the dry ingredients by hand, mixing them in with a spatula.

' Storage & Nutrition '

This cake will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It's best to keep it in an air tight container.  Baked cake can also be freezed well for up to 2 months. 

Servings: 12 cake pieces

Calories: 320 cal

So let me know what you think of these vegan and gluten - free chocolate cake in the comments section below -thanks so much! In order for you to stay updated with all my latest vegan recipes and baking posts – give a follow to my Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/siggyblog/

 I truly hope that you will find the above chocolate peanut butter cake as delicious as I do. 

Enjoy this beauty!

- SiggyBlog -

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