Mmm… chocolatechocolatechocolate vegan chocolate. It’s so good for the soul. I’ve been working on this recipe for a while as I was determined to come up with a vegan chocolate cake recipe that didn’t call for refined sugar in the recipe, using as many wholefood ingredients as possible.
It also had to hold together well so I could sandwich those babies between layers of thick, delectable vegan chocolate frosting (which contains NO icing sugar)!
Well, I got there in the end. I’m pretty darn happy with how this cake turned out, and just in time for Easter too! As far as vegan Easter recipes go, y’all should bookmark this one. I can guarantee you it’s a healthier choice than many of the other vegan chocolate cake recipes out there, without compromise on texture or flavour.
The only ingredient that I used that I would normally try to avoid is plain white flour, but I made sure it was organic. I used organic dark vegan chocolate, but the vegan Easter eggs for decorating are a bit of a cheat in the refined sugar/additives department – but hey, it’s Easter! Almost all dark chocolates that are 70% cocoa or more are plant based, but just read the label to double check.
Everything else in this recipe is a whole food plant based ingredient.
The Chocolate Cake
There’s 4 components that need a little bit of prep to bring the cake batter together. The first is a couple of flax eggs. No, there is no such thing as a Flax bird (har har!) and you can’t buy flax eggs in a carton. You make one by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flax meal (or linseed meal) to 3 tablespoons of water and leaving it to sit for around 5 minutes to coagulate. Don’t you love that word? I do.
Yeah, so that’s how you make flax eggs. They’re a great substitute for eggs in cakes and anything that requires a mixture to bond together when cooking. For this recipe we need 2 of them, so 2 tablespoons of flax meal mixed with 6 tablespoons of water.
Secondly, we melt the chocolate, coconut oil, sugar, vanilla, salt and some brewed coffee (or water if you’d rather skip the caffeine) over a double broiler.
The third component is vegan buttermilk which is stupid-easy to make. It’s just your choice of plant milk (I used soy) mixed with apple cider vinegar – you could also use lemon juice – and set aside to curdle. That’s it!
Then lastly is the dry ingredients, sifted and whisked together, ready to be combined with all of the above.
The Chocolate Ganache Frosting
This is the part I’m really proud of. I searched high and low for a recipe for vegan chocolate frosting that didn’t call for icing sugar (i.e. powdered/confectioners sugar). Not only is it heavily processed and often bleached to whiten it, but in some countries, it’s refined with icky animal parts.
I tried a variety of things and in the end, I decided to try making my own date paste with Medjool dates and using that to sweeten the frosting rather than any kind of sugar. The result was beyond my expectations.
I can’t give all the credit to the date paste though. The hero ingredient to create the perfect consistency for this vegan frosting was actually coconut whipping cream. You should be able to find some of this online or in a vegan grocer, maybe even a good health food store. It’s just normal coconut cream with a little coconut oil and a few other (natural) ingredients added to make it thicker and more ‘whippable.’
You need to make sure it’s been refrigerated for at least 5 hours prior to opening it, and then you want to scoop out the solids. There’ll be a little bit of liquid left at the bottom of the can.
If you can’t find coconut whipping cream, use normal full fat coconut cream or milk, but do the same process of refrigerating before you open it and use as much of the solids as possible. Your frosting may just set a little softer if you do this, which will be fine if you are keeping the cake in the fridge before serving.
When you whip up your frosting it should look a something a little like this…
Try not to eat it all before it makes it to the cake. #thestruggleisreal.
The Other Bits
It wouldn’t be an Easter cake if we didn’t over-do it slightly on the chocolate. So, after the generous layers of chocolate frosting between the chocolate cake, we have a gooey dark chocolate lava sauce.
It’s just a ganache really, but I used the remainder of the coconut whipping cream solids (normal coconut milk or cream will work fine) and a tablespoon of coconut oil to give it the gooey-ness and extra shine.
A few toasted coconut shreds to make a little ‘nest’ for the vegan Easter eggs, and we’re good to go. A double-decker vegan triple chocolate cake with no refined sugar, no nasty ingredients and definitely no scrooging on the chocolate.
Happy Easter! Let’s do this.
Dense chocolate cake layered with rich frosting and a ganache drip
- 2 tbsp flax meal or linseed meal
- 6 tbsp water
- 100 grams vegan dark chocolate roughly chopped *See note
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 & 1/4 cups coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup brewed coffee (sub plain water if you don't want the caffeine)
- 1 & 1/2 cups plant milk (I used soy)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 & 3/4 cups plain organic flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 & 1/2 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
- 200 grams vegan dark chocolate roughly chopped *See note
- 10 pitted medjool dates
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 3/4 cup coconut whipping cream solids **see note
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
- 50 grams vegan dark chocolate roughly chopped *See note
- 1/4 cup coconut whipping cream solids
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup toasted coconut shreds
- 1 or 2 vegan easter eggs (or more!)
Preheat oven to 180ºC (375ºF) - not fan-forced. Grease and line 2 x 19cm cake pans.
Start by mixing the flax meal with the 6 tablespoons of water to create the flax eggs. Set aside to thicken into a gel.
Add the chocolate, coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla, salt and coffee (or water) to a heatproof bowl then place it over a small saucepan of water and bring it to the boil, stirring constantly till all ingredients have just melted together. Remove bowl from the heat and set aside to cool.
In a jug, add the plant milk and stir in the apple cider vinegar and watch as it curdles into vegan buttermilk 😉
In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb soda, then use a balloon whisk to combine.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients then add the flax eggs, buttermilk and chocolate mixture and use the balloon whisk to bring it all together (don't overmix).
Split the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Place the medjool dates in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Set aside to soak.
Place chocolate pieces in the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
Open your can of (cold!) coconut whipping cream and scoop out 3/4 cup of the solids, then place them in a small saucepan over high heat.
Stir until the cream just begins to boil, then pour over the chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate is melted.
Transfer the dates (including the water) to a blender, along with the coconut oil and blend to a very smooth paste.
Stir the date paste into the chocolate mixture then refrigerate for 45 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and use electric beaters to whip the frosting for 2-3 minutes on the highest setting, till it becomes fluffier and paler in colour.
Place the chocolate pieces in a small bowl.
Add the coconut cream solids to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the coconut oil before removing from the heat, then pour over the chocolate an stir until it's all melted. It will be shiny and slightly 'gluggy' in texture.
Place one of the cakes onto a plate, base or cake stand. Use a spatula to spread around half the frosting evenly over the cake. Place the second cake on top then repeat with remaining frosting.
If you want, you can use a jug of hot water to dip the spatula into while spreading the frosting for a smoother finish. Totally optional - I didn't bother with this and went for a more rustic look.
Next, spoon the ganache lava around the edges of the cake, letting it drip down the sides in a gloopy, lava-like fashion.
Arrange the toasted coconut in the centre of the cake to create a little 'nest', then finish with your vegan Easter eggs. I broke a white chocolate egg into pieces and arranged them around the nest.
*For this recipe to be completely refined sugar-free, choose a chocolate that doesn't use refined sugar. If you can't find one just choose a quality, organic dark chocolate.
**To get the solids from a can of coconut whipping cream, make sure it's been in the fridge for at least 5 hours prior to opening. When you open it, the solids will have separated from the liquid, so this is the part you want to scoop out.