Gluten- and dairy-full cakes *wish* they could be as moist and tender as this easy one-bowl coconut flour chocolate cake. This super-moist cake keeps beautifully for days. You’d never guess that it’s free of dairy, gluten, grains, nuts, and refined sugar because it tastes like the most perfectly decadent chocolate cake ever.
The first cake I ever baked with coconut flour (while recipe testing for my cookbook) was a disaster. It baked up like a leaden brick and went straight into the compost. But now that I know how to harness the ultra-absorbent power of coconut flour, it's turned out some of my favorite ever cake recipes including paleo lemon cake, coconut flour vanilla layer cake, and moist and tender banana cake. (Find all my cake recipes here!)
But this may be my favorite coconut flour recipe yet because chocolate. Also CHOCOLATE. And MOAR CHOCOLATE!
In fact, this recipe is part of my gluten-free chocolate recipes collection. Here chocophiles can find 30+ more recipes to satisfy their bittersweet tooth, including my fudgy gluten-free chocolate bundt cake.
This coconut flour chocolate cake starts with a simple cake base that's unbelievably fudgy and moist, though it's free of many common allergens including gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, and refined sugar. It takes just one bowl to whisk up and can be in and out of the oven in under an hour. It has an old-school boxed cake / chocolate birthday cake vibe, but a more sophisticated, not-too-sweet version that all palates can enjoy.
Top that with luscious, glossy dairy-free chocolate ganache and you've got yourself an easy dessert that's equally appropriate for a weeknight baking session or special occasion.
Ingredients & Substitution Suggestions
This coconut flour chocolate cake recipe uses just one flour and one starch, both of which are easily found at most well-stocked grocers. See my guide to baking with gluten-free flours for more details!
- Coconut flour creates an airy and tender base. Coconut flour soaks up a lot of moisture, so only a small amount is needed here (just under 1/2 cup for an 8-inch cake). I use Bob's Red Mill coconut flour, which is finely milled in a gluten-free facility from organic, fair trade-certified coconuts.
- Coconut flour is tricky to substitute, so I recommend sticking with it in this recipe.
- Tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch) helps the cake hold together thanks to its sticky power. It helps the cake bake up with a fine and fluffy crumb that still has some chew just like a gluten-based chocolate cake.
- Arrowroot can often stand in for tapioca flour, though I haven't tested it here.
- Cocoa powder acts like another flour here while adding rich chocolate notes. I use Dutch-process cocoa which is treated with alkali to make it less acidic. It has the mellow, classic flavor of a boxed cake mix. If you only have regular cocoa powder, it *might* work, but I haven't tested it this way.
- Vanilla Extract adds lovely floral flavor that enhances and deepens the chocolate taste. Be sure to use gluten-free vanilla extract if need be.
- Coconut milk moistens and enriches the batter. Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk that has been well-combined. If it's cold in your kitchen and your room-temperature coconut milk is chunky, pour the whole can into a saucepan and place over low heat. Stir until it's smooth and well-combined. Measure out what you need and proceed with the recipe. Save the remaining coconut milk to make paleo ganache.
- Water adds additional moisture to the batter.
- Eggs help lift and set the batter. I don't recommend swapping them out if you can help it. But if you're allergic, you could try some combination of applesauce, flax or chia egg, aquafaba, or Just Egg.
- Oil adds moisture and keeps the cake soft when chilled unlike. I've tested this with grapeseed oil and sunflower oil which work equally well. Paleo-friendly options are avocado oil or mild olive oil.
- Maple syrup sweetens the cake. I like the flavor that darker syrup adds here, but any grade will work. As always, use 100% real maple syrup. The consistency of the maple syrup is important for the texture of the cake, so try not to swap it for another liquid sweetener if you can help it. That said, agave syrup would be the closest in terms of moisture content and sweetness level. Or you could use honey thinned with a little hot water or coconut sugar liquified into a syrup. For a keto coconut flour chocolate cake, you could try maple-flavored monkfruit syrup.
- Baking powder and baking soda lift the batter, making it light and airy. Be sure both are fresh and perky for the best lift.
- Salt sharpens the flavors. I use fine sea salt, but kosher salt will also work. Avoid table salt, which can taste harsh.
How to Make Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake
This easy coconut flour chocolate cake recipe takes just 10 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of baking, plus some inactive time for letting the cake cool.
This recipe makes a single layer 8-inch round cake that can easily be doubled for a layer cake or sheet cake. Or see this post for coconut flour chocolate cupcakes. See notes below.
Tips for Baking the Moistest Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake
A few techniques for foolproof cake every time.
- Use weight measurements if possible. It's more accurate and so much easier, with fewer dishes to wash. This is my favorite kitchen scale.
- Use the ingredients called for here if possible. I tested this chocolate coconut flour cake recipe many times to get it just right with these ingredients, so I recommend trying it as written before making any tweaks. However I gave my best guesses for ingredient swaps above!
- Be sure to combine the coconut milk first (see note). It separates into thick cream and watery goo as it sits, and we want creamy, homogenous milk for the best results.
- Bake the cake in an 8-inch cake pan as directed. The cake will be too thin if baked in a 9-inch pan, which holds 25% more volume. (However, the recipe can be increased to serve more people – instructions below.)
- Take care not to overbake the cake. When it's done, the top should spring back to the touch, the sides should be pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted near the center should come out with a few moist crumbs – no wet batter and not completely clean.
- Be sure to let the cake cool completely before topping it with ganache. We don't want to melt the ganache on a warm cake! If you need to speed this up, you can pop the cake in the fridge once it's cooled down a little.
- The cake is best served at room temperature though personally, I'm not averse to eating it straight from the fridge!
Chocolate Sheet Cake
To serve 16-20 people, Double the cake and ganache recipes and bake the cake in a 9x12-inch baking pan lined on the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Increase the baking time as needed. Once the cake has cooled, invert it onto a large cutting board, peel away the parchment paper, then invert it right side up on a serving platter. Spread with ganache or other frosting of your choice, cut into squares, and serve.
Chocolate Layer Cake
For a 2-layer cake to serve 16-20, triple the paleo ganache recipe or make a double batch of my paleo frosting. Double the cake recipe and divide it between 2 (8-inch) round springform pans or cake pans. When the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a large, serrated knife. Stack the cake layers with a layer of ganache or frosting between them. (You may need to chill the ganache slightly so it's firm enough to hold its shape between the layers.) Then frost the top and sides with more ganache or frosting.
See this post for paleo chocolate cupcakes made with coconut flour!
Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake for Everyone
This coconut chocolate cake is like a sophisticated take on classic chocolate birthday cake, with rich bittersweet chocolate notes, an addictively moist and squidgy texture, and swirls of luxurious chocolate ganache.
I brought one to a family gathering and it was loved by children and adults alike. In fact my youngest niece (Nora, age 4) demanded a second slice. Granted, the kids in my family have refined tastebuds, but still. Plates were shamelessly licked cleaned. All were surprised when I told them, post dessert, what's in it (or rather, what's not in it). "It's healthy!" one guest exclaimed in surprise.
Here are some things I think you'll love about this cake:
- free of many common allergens including gluten, grains, dairy, refined sugar, and nuts
- quick and easy to make
- accessible – just a handful of pantry-friendly ingredients
- not too sweet
- rich enough to taste like a treat
- loaded with dark chocolate goodness
- a true crowd-pleaser
Whether you bake this addictively rich, moist, fudgy coconut flour chocolate cake into a layer cake, sheet cake, or cupcakes, I hope you love it as much as we do!
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this coconut flour chocolate cake recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Super Moist Chocolate Cake with Coconut FlourPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 recipe vegan chocolate ganache
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil, for the pan
- 2 large eggs (about 100 grams out of the shells)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (78 g) neutral oil (grapeseed, sunflower, avocado, or mild olive oil)
- ¾ cup (240 g) maple syrup (preferably dark colored)
- ½ cup (115 g) full-fat canned coconut milk*
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup (50 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Rodelle organic)
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons (46 g) Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour
- ¼ cup (30 g) Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Make the ganache and let it sit at room temperature to thicken while you make the cake (at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours in advance).
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
- Rub the sides and bottom of an 8-inch round springform pan or cake pan with the coconut oil. (Note that because the top of the baked cake is a little sticky, it’s easier to remove the cake from a springform pan so that it doesn’t have to be inverted.) Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper cut to fit.
Make the Batter
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs and oil. Whisk until smooth and emulsified. Whisk in the maple syrup, then the coconut milk, water, and vanilla.
- Place a medium mesh strainer over the bowl (or over a separate bowl if it's easier) and sift in the cocoa powder, coconut flour, and tapioca flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the flours into the wet ingredients until very smooth. If there are some lumps in the batter, let it sit for a minute or two, then whisk again. The batter will start out very thin, but it will thicken up as the flours begin to absorb moisture.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
- Bake the cake until the top is puffed with some cracks, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs, 25-35 minutes.
- Place the cake on a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Once the cake has cooled, loosen the edges of the cake from the pan using a small, offset spatula. If you used a springform pan, release the sides of the pan. Use a small offset spatula to pry the cake away from the parchment paper and slide the cake onto a serving plate. If you used a solid cake pan, turn the cake out onto a plate and peel away the parchment, then place the cake right side-up on a large plate or serving board. The top will get funky but we’re going to cover it in ganache so no worries!
- Make sure the ganache is cool enough to hold a shape; it should mound softly when dropped from a spoon. Swirl or spread the ganache over the cooled cake. If the ganache is softer, it will pour down the sides of the cake. If it’s more thick, it will hold a soft shape when swirled over the top of the cake. Whatever happens is good!
- Serve right away, or chill for 20 minutes or so until ready to serve (it’s easier to cut when the ganache has chilled). For the cleanest slices, cut the cake into wedges using a large, sharp chef's knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between cuts. The cake is best served at room temperature to soften the ganache.
- The cake is best within 1-2 days of baking, but leftovers keep beautifully, refrigerated airtight, for up to 5 days. Or freeze leftovers for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before enjoying.
- The cake can be made up to 2 days ahead, wrapped tightly, and refrigerated. Or freeze airtight for several months.
- The ganache can be made 24 hours ahead and stored at cool room temperature, or refrigerated for up to 1 week. Warm the chilled ganache before using to make it spreadable again.
Double the cake and ganache recipes and bake the cake in a 9x12-inch baking pan lined on the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Increase the baking time as needed. Once the cake has cooled, invert it onto a large cutting board, peel away the parchment paper, then invert it right side up on a serving platter. Spread with ganache or other frosting of your choice and top with decorations, if using. Chocolate Layer Cake:
Triple the ganache recipe or make a double batch of my paleo frosting. Double the cake recipe and divide it between 2 (8-inch) round springform pans or cake pans. When the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a large, serrated knife. Stack the cake layers with a layer of ganache or frosting between them. Then frost the top and sides with more ganache or frosting. Chocolate Cupcakes:
See this post for coconut flour chocolate cupcakes!