A vegan Chocolate Cake that's tall, dark, moist and oh so scrumptious. The recipe comes together in one bowl and couldn't be easier to make. On top goes a creamy vegan buttercream chocolate frosting crammed with gooey melted chocolate and cacao.
Oh, chocolate cake. So inviting with those layers of soft, fluffy, delicious cake sandwiching layers of soft, fluffy, delicious chocolate frosting. And yet so forbidding that you can almost feel your pants pinch your waistline angrily when you so much as steal a look at this hunk.
Well, I am here to tell you that if you want to eat a slice of chocolate cake, you should eat a slice of chocolate cake. Especially THIS chocolate cake.
Yep. Not just because a little indulgence is good for the starved soul. Not just because veganized versions of desserts tend to be healthier without missing on any of the flavor. And not even because you are deep in those doldrums that nothing but chocolate can pull you out of.
No, cut yourself a slice of this decadent cake because you just feel like eating it. Then savor every chocolatey bite, let it linger in your mouth, and let every tastebud revel in that deliciousness before you swallow it. Then give yourself a pat on the back for having had the guts to enjoy your scrumptious reward. You deserved it!
This recipe I have for you today for a vegan chocolate cake has been a long time in the making. I've shared with you variations of chocolate cake on this blog, like this scrumptious vegan Oreo cake and this vegan Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake.
Then there are these delicious little vegan chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream that I made more times than I can count for Jay's classmates in elementary school, especially on birthdays, when he was actually physically in school (does anyone remember how that felt or was it just a lovely dream that made parenthood bearable? ;)).
This chocolate cake with its creamy, dreamy chocolate buttercream frosting is as good as any of them, and best of all there's nothing standing between you and all that chocolate.
Let's dig in!
What we love about this vegan chocolate cake
- It's chocolate cake, for goodness's sake. What's not to love?
- The crumb is so soft and fluffy, it melts in your mouth.
- It is insanely chocolatey. There's cocoa powder in the cake and both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the frosting. The frosting is not cloyingly sweet with just two cups of confectioners' sugar. You can use more but I love to taste the chocolate rather than the sugar, and two cups does the frosting perfect justice. If you don't want to use sugar and want to sweeten your frosting naturally, with maple syrup, I have a hack for you in the tips.
- It is super easy to make. Really. The batter comes together in one bowl, making cleanup a breeze.
For the cake:
- All purpose flour (unbleached is best)
- Cacao powder or cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Sugar (you can use maple syrup in this cake if you want to stay away from artificial sugars)
- Instant coffee granules (optional)
- Vegan yogurt (optional, you can use nondairy milk. Yogurt, however, adds a lovely tenderness to cake so use it if you can. I use my homemade cultured cashew yogurt.)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Pure vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 1 cup vegan butter (16 tbsp or 2 sticks)
- 2 cups powdered sugar or confectioners' sugar (can use maple syrup)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional, but highly recommended)
Tips and steps
Dry ingredients: Start out by sifting your dry ingredients into a bowl--the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. This does two things. It adds more air into your flour, which makes the cake lighter, but it also helps remove any lumps in the flour and other ingredients so everything integrates nicely. Next whisk all the ingredients.
Wet ingredients: Now just dump in the wet ingredients: sugar, yogurt, water, vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. You can also add an optional teaspoon of instant coffee granules at this point if you like. I love coffee in chocolate--this small amount brings out the chocolate flavor without really making it taste like coffee. But you can leave it out if you don't want to use it.
Whisk everything quickly until integrated but as always, when working with wheat flour cakes, don't overmix because you don't want to develop the gluten.
Bake and cool: Divide the batter betweeen two parchment-lined, oiled and floured 8- or 9-inch cake tins and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Then place a dish on the top of the cake pan and invert it quickly. Carefully flip the cake once more and let it continue cooling on a rack, right side up. Repeat for the second cake.
Frosting: Always wait until a cake is completely cool to frost it or, duh, the butter in your frosting will melt and run all over the place. As cake tops usually bake up slightly domed, you can prepare the cake for frosting by making the top flat-- to do this just use a long, serrated knife, positioned flat, to cut off the domed part, and reward yourself, the baker, by eating it. You can just skip this step as it's purely cosmetic.
To make the frosting, beat half a cup of cocoa powder with two sticks of 16 tbsp of softened, room temperature (not melted) vegan butter. Add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and two cups of powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, and beat in until smooth and creamy. You can use more or less powdered sugar based on how sweet you want the frosting to be.
This frosting is perfect by itself, and you can use it at this point. But to make it extra chocolatey I melt a cup of semisweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and whisk it into the frosting at the end.
You can use maple syrup in your frosting instead of powdered sugar. If the frosting becomes grainy, place it in the refrigerator for about half an hour. Then add the melted chocolate and beat it again with a hand mixer and it should become creamy again.
Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Large bowl and whisk or stand mixer with whisk attachment
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup vegan yogurt (Use ¼ cup almond milk if replacing this)
- 1¾ cups water
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2¼ cups sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp instant coffee granules (optional)
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup vegan butter (two sticks or 16 tbsp)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (or maple syrup)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two eight or nine-inch cake tins by lining the bottoms with parchment paper and then greasing and flouring them. It helps to add a touch of cooking spray before you place the parchment paper into the tin to help it adhere.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to mix.
- Dump in the remaining cake ingredients--vegan yogurt, water, vinegar, vegetable oil, sugar, pure vanilla extract and cofee, if using.
- Whisk for a few seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, and continue mixing for just a few more seconds until you have a smooth batter. Don't overmix.
- Divide the batter equally between the two cake pans. Place in the preheated oven and bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for around 30 minutes, then slide a knife along the sides to loosen, invert each cake into a plate, turn right side up, and continue cooling on the rack. These cakes are fairly sturdy but always be careful when handling baked cakes, especially if you are new to this.
Make the frosting
- Place the chocolate chips in a bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir a couple of times with a spatula until they are completely melted and creamy.
- Place the softened butter in a bowl with the cacao powder and vanilla. Beat with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until mixed and creamy, then begin whisking in the sugar, half a cup at a time. I like mixing it slightly with the spatula before I start the hand mixer to ensure it doesn't fly all over the place when I start the hand mixer.
- Stir in the melted chocolate and beat until mixed. If using maple syrup instead of sugar, and if the frosting splits, refrigerate it for 30 minutes before beating in the melted chocolate.
- Frost the cake.