This healthy chocolate cake is super moist, and chocolaty. It’s made a little healthier with whole wheat flour and sweetened with honey or coconut sugar. It can also easily be made gluten-free and vegan!
This chocolate cake is seriously moist and because it’s whole grain and honey- or coconut sugar-sweetened, it’s healthier than your traditional chocolate cake, but you won’t miss out on taste!
It’s every bit as delicious as the best chocolate cake you’ve ever had.
Traditional or a healthy version?
You have options with this terrific cake. You can make a classic non-healthy cake or a healthier cake that tastes just like a traditional one. But why not make it as healthy as possible when it tastes just as great?!
You can use:
- Regular flour, whole wheat or gluten-free flour
- Regular eggs or chia eggs
- Regular sugar, coconut sugar, or honey
- Whatever neutral tasting oil you like
In this recipe, I have listed a lot of options for flour, sweetener and eggs. Each version is just as delicious, but you can tell a difference between the version with 1 cup of honey versus 2 cups of granulated / coconut sugar.
The honey version is clearly less sweet than the other one but covered with the frosting, I think it’s still sweet enough!
In case you’d like to make this cake egg-free or vegan, you can make this healthy chocolate cake with chia eggs. It works great.
Additionally, you have several choices for flour: whole wheat, white whole wheat, whole spelt or all-purpose flour. I’ve tried them all, and they all work.
For a gluten-free version, I used my favorite gluten-free baking mix, this one from Bob’s Red Mill. Other brands might work in this recipe, but I can’t guarantee it because I haven’t tested it.
There’s a huge difference in baking times depending on which combination of flour, sugar and egg you use.
I was so surprised and sure that I was mistaken, I baked another round of cakes that same night. The different baking times for the cakes were correct, and I had a lot of fabulous cakes to eat. It’s a good thing they freeze well. 😉
When I originally posted this recipe, I posted it as a 9″x13″ cake with a different frosting recipe. It was a mix of cocoa powder, honey or maple syrup, coconut oil, and nut butter to create some healthy chocolate fudge frosting.
Chocolate Avocado Frosting Option
But it was too runny to fill this layer cake, so I went with a different option. What you see on this cake is my Chocolate Avocado Frosting.
You can find the recipe along with the cake recipe below, but be sure to check out the post about it on my other blog for more details and substitution questions. Read more here → Chocolate Avocado Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting Option
If you don’t mind some powdered sugar, this Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting is amazing on this cake! The yield is perfect for this healthy chocolate cake if you want to fill just the middle and slather some on top, like you see in the photos.
If you want to frost the sides as well, use these amounts:
- 16 ounces (450 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups (160 grams) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Fudge Frosting Option
I’ve also made this cake with my Paleo Vegan Chocolate Fudge Frosting and it so rich and luscious! It uses chocolate chips so it’s not refined sugar-free but still not terribly unhealthy, in comparison to other recipes.
Double the recipe if you want enough to fill the middle + the top. Triple it if you want to have enough for the sides.
3-ingredient Whipped Ganache Option
This Vegan Chocolate Frosting just uses chocolate chips, coconut milk and salt. That’s it! It’s really easy to make. It yields enough to fill the middle, top and sides and looks like this.
I went with chocolate curls for a classy look. Some other natural topping ideas would be fresh berries or even crushed dried raspberries.
I’ve read about ColorKitchen Rainbow Sprinkles from Nature, but I haven’t tried them (we don’t have them in Germany, so I’d have to order them from the US). If you have tips on good naturally colored sprinkles, please send them my way!
Chopped nuts are also a nice choice.
If you want to get fancy with the frosting and want to make some designs, you’ll need about 1.5x the frosting. You won’t use all of it, but you can freeze it without a problem. You’ll also need to chill it long enough so that it’s firm enough to pipe.
If you are new to piping and want to learn more, I found this Piping 101 Manual that I thought would be pretty helpful.
Questions about this cake?
Can I use a different egg replacer?
I’ve only tried chia eggs in this cake, and I was quite surprised that it worked. I often have problems with egg subs in cakes. It’s possible that other egg replacers would
work if you’ve used them in other cake recipes with good results, but I can’t be positive as I haven’t tested it.
Can I really use any type of oil for the cake?
You can use any neutral-tasting oil like light olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil, etc. If you use unrefined coconut oil, you will likely taste some coconut in your cake. If you use refined, you won’t taste the coconut at all. So, I recommend refined coconut oil (but you should definitely melt it).
If you use olive oil, can you taste it in the cake?
I used extra-virgin olive oil, which you can taste in the batter and when the cake is hot out the oven. But once the cake cools, you won’t taste it at all. I used Aldi or Lidl extra-virgin olive oil, it wasn’t a super expensive or strong one. If you’re worried about it, use light olive oil (the light refers to the taste and not calories).
Can I use butter?
You probably could, but know that the cake won’t be as moist because butter is 80-82% fat and oil is 100% fat.
If I make the GF version, can I use a different gluten-free flour mix?
I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, and the cake was fabulous. If you have found a different brand that works as a sub for all-purpose flour, then it could work here. But I can’t guarantee it’d be as perfect both in texture and taste as Bob’s version.
You cannot use almond flour, coconut flour, or any other grain-free flour for this recipe. It’s just totally ridiculous that I haven’t got a paleo chocolate cake recipe, but I’m working on it!
Does the GF version taste gluten-free?
Not at all! This cake tastes just like it was made using regular all-purpose flour. At least that’s true with the gluten-free flour mix I used and after the cake has cooled off.
Does the whole wheat version taste like cardboard?
Absolutely not! This whole wheat chocolate cake tastes like it was made with regular all-purpose flour. The cocoa powder, oil and sugar cover-up that wheaty taste that makes most whole wheat cakes a little less exciting. No worries with this one if you follow the recipe and use the recommended ingredients.
Can I reduce the sugar?
Reducing sugar also reduces moisture, so unless you prefer a dry cake, don’t go overboard. Don’t try reducing the sugar to 1/2 cup or some absurd small amount, because it won’t be terrific like the cake we have here today. I think using 1 1/2 cups of sugar would be fine, but I don’t recommend stretching it beyond that.
The honey version already has a reduced amount (1 cup of honey instead of 2 cups of sugar), so I don’t recommend reducing it more than that!
Can I use something other than the listed sweeteners?
I’ve only made this cake with the listed sweeteners and haven’t tried anything else. So those are the only ones that I know will work 100% of the time.
I’m guessing that any liquid sweetener that you’d normally use in place of honey would probably work. And any granulated sweetener that you’d usually use in place of granulated sugar would probably work as well. If you decide to replace the sweeteners, then I would love confirmation that it went well so I can add some suggestions.
Can I freeze the cake layers or the whole cake?
Yes, you can freeze the unfrosted layers or even the whole cake! Let them thaw in the fridge overnight, so the cake is ready to frost when you are about to serve.
This healthy chocolate cake has the perfect chocolate flavor and is so insanely moist that you may never bake a traditional chocolate cake again.
That’s it! I hope you enjoy this scrumptious cake. Should you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes. 🙂 Just tag #fooddoodlesrecipes so I can find them easily and I’d love to see your pics 📸, too!
Healthy Chocolate Cake (whole wheat, gluten-free, vegan options)
- 1 cup (320 grams) honey* or 2 cups (375 gram) coconut sugar or 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups (210 grams) whole spelt flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour or 1 3/4 cups (236 gram) Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour for a gluten-free version
- 3/4 cup (85 grams) cocoa powder (I prefer Dutch-process)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs (50 grams each, out of shell) or 2 chia eggs** for vegan
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) milk of choice***
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) olive oil (or another neutral-tasting vegetable oil that's liquid at room temp)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) boiling water (this is not a typo!)
Frosting: (see post for different options)
- flesh of 1 avocado (155 grams)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons, maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) refined coconut oil
- If using honey, preheat your oven to 325 °F (167 °C). If not using honey (which bakes quicker than sugar, hence the lower temperature), preheat to 350 °F (175 °C).
- Line 2 round 8" cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom and then grease the sides of the pans.
- In a large bowl, stir together the sugar (if using honey, don’t add it yet), flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add eggs, milk, honey (if using), olive oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium and then stir in the boiling water. The batter will be almost as thin as water. If you taste it, it will NOT taste good! But don't worry. It tastes great after baking.
- Divide the batter between the two pans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs, but no uncooked liquid. The bake time will vary widely depending on what combination of sugar / eggs / flour you use. The whole wheat / egg / honey version is on the longer side. The gluten-free / chia egg / honey version is on the shorter side.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Avocado Frosting:
- Put all the ingredients (using 1/2 cup maple syrup) in a high-speed blender (or a small food processor) and blend until smooth. Taste and add up to another 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (I always do).
- The frosting yields 2 cups + 1 tablespoon. That's enough for a two-layer 8" cake if you use about 3/4 cup to 1 cup for the middle and the other remaining cup on top.
- The frosting will harden in the fridge but you can still cut it once it's on the cake. It will be too firm to spread once cold, so just gently reheat it if you need to spread it after it's been chilled.
- It's best used on the day of making but can also be stored for up to 2 days in the fridge. The longer it sits, the more avocady it gets (it doesn't taste at all like avocado when you first make it). I only notice it after about 1 day.
The recipe below was the frosting recipe originally used for a 9″x13″ cake. It is too runny for a layer cake. Use the chocolate avocado frosting recipe above or see the post for several more options!
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) refined coconut oil*
- 1/2 cup (128 grams) natural peanut butter or another nut / seed butter (use the kind with just nuts / seeds and salt)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- salt to taste (be sure to add this! It really brings out the flavor)
- 1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- if using sunflower seed butter: coconut sugar to taste (I used 5 teaspoons)
- Melt the coconut oil in a small pot or pan over low heat. Add the nut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt and stir together. When it’s completely smooth, take it off the heat and add the maple syrup and stir until well combined.
- If using sunflower seed butter, add coconut sugar to taste. Put the pot back on the burner and set to the lowest setting. Stir until the coconut sugar is dissolved.
- If using another type of nut butter, you don't need additional sugar. Let cool until room temperature and then spread over the cooled cake.
- Store the frosted cake in the fridge for up to 5 days.