A rich, fudgy easy vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake with chocolate avocado frosting – moist, packed with flavour and surprisingly nutritious from a few surprise ingredients!
It’s official, it’s taken me a few tries and some odd ingredient swaps, but I officially have the best easy vegan gluten-free chocolate cake recipe for you – it’s moist and fudgy like a brownie cake, filled with flavour and richness.
Okay, so it might have a few unusual ingredient choices like avocados, zucchini, filtered coffee and apple cider vinegar – but the best thing is, you can’t even tell that they’re there! What they do add though are creaminess, moisture and extra lift.
As I said, this chocolate gluten-free vegan cake is fudgy and brownie-like in texture. Whereas some of the ingredients included here can affect the ‘lift’ in baking, the apple cider vinegar does its job to try and counter this with a little extra lift. And yes, this cake isn’t as light and fluffy as a victoria sponge – but who even wants that when you can have a fudgy, rich chocolate cake.
Plus, when combined with a creamy vegan chocolate buttercream – hint, there’s no dairy in this frosting at all, but there is creamy avocado – you have a decadent yet nutritious treat on your hands.
Perfect as a birthday cake (or general celebration cake) for someone you love, or just a great recipe to impress family and friends, this easy vegan gluten-free chocolate cake is sure to be a winner all around. Plus, if you’re looking for another gluten-free bake then how about these vegan, gluten-free brownies ( vegan options included in the post).
Baking with zucchini
If you’ve never had zucchini chocolate cake before (or any zucchini cake, for that matter), you might be wondering what the heck is going on right now. To you I say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Zucchini, in general, contains a lot of moisture, which is great for gluten-free baking. One of the biggest complaints I hear from all of my gluten-free friends is about the dry, crumbly gluten-free bakes they’ve tried ( and hated) and that’s not a complaint I want out of this cake.
Zucchini is also fairly neutral-tasting in general, which means that when it’s hidden in the cake batter, then any flavour disappears entirely. Instead, you get a moist cake with additional nutritional value – win-win.
In fact, zucchini is easy to pop into tons of baked goods. If you’re not wanting to add too much moisture, simply squeeze some of the liquid out before adding it to your bakes. However, for this gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake recipe, we want all of the fluid that it can provide.
Plus, not only does the taste disappear into the cake but so, it seems, does the zucchini itself. Apart from a few specs in the cake slices, you’d never know it was there.
Why Filtered Coffee?
You might be wondering why I didn’t call this a mocha cake, with the addition of filtered coffee, but the fact of the matter is – you can’t taste the coffee in this cake ( and I don’t need/ want you to).
So, why is coffee added to chocolate cake? The simple answer is actually to add depth to the chocolate flavour. If you’re ever heard the tip of adding a pinch of salt to a chocolate milkshake for extra flavour (it works!), then you’ll probably understand what I’m talking about.
Coffee and chocolate are incredibly complementary flavours in general, and by combining a small amount of coffee in a chocolate cake batter, you end up with a more complex chocolatey flavour, with added richness.
So along with dry and crumbly, I’d officially like to scrub ‘bland’ off the adjectives to describe this chocolate gluten-free vegan cake.
And don’t worry about using your expensive coffee for this – any coffee will do. I use filtered coffee, but you can even use instant, in a pinch. The flavour will be slightly tweaked depending on what you do choose, but they’ll all do the job of enhancing the chocolate flavour.
Top Tip: You can take advantage of this coffee tip in nearly all your chocolatey bakes. Just swap out some of the liquid measurements ( I..e milk) for some coffee instead, and away you go.
Apple Cider Vinegar In Baking
The last of my special ingredients is apple cider vinegar, while this ingredient is fawned over for its various health benefits, it’s job is a little different in this cake.
Not only does apple cider vinegar and plant-based milk combined make for delicious vegan buttermilk, but this ingredient can also improve the bake of the cake too.
Gluten-free baking can often lead to struggles with rising and getting the right consistency. With the additional challenges of the added zucchini here, which can also affect rising, I decided to turn to apple cider vinegar for a little help.
Now, while I wanted a nice fudgy, almost brownie-like texture for this cake, I didn’t want it to fall too flat. Vinegar, though, is an acid which reacts with baking soda and helps to give the batter lift, while baking.
With all of that out of the way, let’s move on to the actual recipe how-to.
The Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe How-to
- Gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (needed for gluten-free baking), brown sugar ( or coconut sugar), baking powder, baking soda, salt, unsweetened cacao/ cocoa powder
- Almond milk, brewed coffee, vegan eggs, zucchini (provides moisture and you can’t taste them), apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, vanilla extract
- Avocado chocolate frosting: avocados, coconut oil, maple syrup, cacao powder, almond milk, vanilla extract, salt
Note* for this recipe I used a homemade blend of gluten-free flours ( brown rice, potato, almond, tapioca and corn). If you’re not worried about making this recipe gluten-free, then you can use regular all-purpose flour and simply remove the xanthan gum.
Start by mixing the flaxseeds with some water to prepare the vegan egg.
Then mix the milk and apple cider vinegar to give you vegan buttercream.
Mix the cocoa/cacao powder and the melted coconut oil.
Finally, get the shredded zucchini ready – you can do this using a vegetable peeler or a grater, on a medium level. This is a little bit of an arm workout but doesn’t last long. Although, if you do have a food processor with a grater disk, then that can make quick work ( literally seconds) of the grating.
With all the ingredients prepared, it’s time to mix the chocolate cake batter.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and sift them to make sure they are entirely smooth.
Carefully pour all the wet ingredients into the dry ones and add the grated zucchini as well.
Stir a few times to get a well-incorporated mixture (don’t over-mix).
Grease or line two 8″ cake tins with baking paper. Ideally, use springform tins, so you can easily take out the cakes when baked.
Divide the batter into two equal portions, then pour into the baking tins.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC for 40-45 minutes.
To check if the cakes are well cooked, insert a toothpick into the middle – it should come out clean.
Transfer the baked cakes onto a cooling lack and leave them cool down completely before applying the frosting.
To make the frosting, you just need to blend the avocados with the rest of the ingredients. I explain in detail how to achieve a mousse-y texture in this blogpost Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
Finally, once the cakes have cooled down, you are ready to assemble the cake.
Carefully slice each cake into 2 to make a total of 4 layers. I only used three here, but for a more even frosting to cake ratio, then do four.
Spread the chocolate avocado frosting between each layer. Don’t be stingy with this – add nice thick layers.
Over the last layer, sprinkle some additional cacao powder and decorate with strawberries or other berries and optional sprinkles. You could use chopped nuts, shredded coconut, grated chocolate etc.
You could also top with a little homemade whipped coconut cream – as I use for this Fluffy Homemade Coconut Cream Cake.
Your cake is ready to serve.
How to Store
This cake is best eaten on the same day as baking. However, you can keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Other Gluten-free Dessert Recipes You Might Like
- Simple Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe
- Vegan no-bake layered Cherry Cheesecake (gluten-free)
- Vegan Earl Grey Blueberry Tart
As always, if you give this recipe a try then let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, feel free to tag me in your recreations @AlphaFoodie.
Vegan Gluten-Free Brownie Chocolate Cake
- 2.5 cups gluten-free flour
- 1.5 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup cacao powder unsweetened
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum **
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 avocados
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 tBsp cacao powder unsweetened
- 1/2 tBsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Mix the flaxseeds with some water to prepare the vegan egg.
- Mix the milk and apple cider vinegar to give you vegan buttercream.
- Mix together the cocoa/cacao powder and the melted coconut oil.
- Get the shredded zucchini ready - you can do this using a vegetable peeler or a grater, on a medium level. If you do have a food processor with a grater disk then that can make quick work (literally seconds) of the grating.
- In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and sift them to make sure they are completely smooth.
- Carefully pour all the wet ingredients into the dry ones and add the grated zucchini as well.
- Stir a few times to get a well-incorporated mixture (don’t over-mix).
- Grease or line with baking paper two 8” tins. Ideally, use springform tins, so you can easily take out the cakes when baked.
- Divide the batter into two equal portions, then pour into the baking tins.
- Bake in the oven at 180ºC for 40-45 minutes. To check if the cakes are well cooked, insert a toothpick into the middle - it should come out clean.
- Transfer the baked cakes onto a cooling lack and leave them cool down completely before applying the frosting.
- To make the frosting, blend the avocados with the rest of the ingredients. I explain in detail how to achieve a great mousse-y texture in this blogpost Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
- Carefully slice each cake into 2 to make a total of 4 layers. I only used 3 here, but for a more even frosting to cake ratio, then do four.
- Spread the chocolate avocado frosting between each layer. Don't be stingy with this - add nice thick layers.
- Over the last layer, sprinkle some additional cacao powder and decorate with strawberries or other berries and optional sprinkles. You could use chopped nuts, shredded coconut, grated chocolate etc.You could also top with a little homemade whipped coconut cream - as I use for this Fluffy Homemade Coconut Cream Cake.Your cake is ready to serve.