This dreamy decadent vegan chocolate cake was meant to be posted for Valentine’s Day last month, but flu season decided to hit our house and took me out instead. So this post sadly sat in my draft folder for way too long. Therefore, I’m bringing the romance and drama into March.
I reworked my go-to vegan chocolate cake recipe because it’s tried and true, moist, rich and delicious. I’m never-not going to use this incredibly easy vegan chocolate cake recipe made with simple ingredients that you should already have in your pantry, when I want or need to make a chocolate cake. What I’m trying to say is: this a staple recipe that you’ll want to make again and again.
A combination of baking soda and vinegar acts as the leavening agent of this cake and replaces eggs. This method was used during times of war when ingredients like butter and eggs were rationed. It’s pretty ingenious and -seriously- you will not miss the eggs in this cake. The resulting crumb texture is light, airy and moist.
I’ve used natural cocoa powder, raw cacao powder and Dutch-processed cocoa powder in this recipe before and liked it each time, but Dutch-processed cocoa will result in a deeper darker color and slightly less bitter chocolate taste.
This cake can stand alone with a simple dusting of powdered sugar or be frosted any way you like. I’ve gone the super decadent route with this thick fudgy whipped vegan dark chocolate coconut milk ganache. The method is the same as making ganache with heavy cream, but we’ve swapped heavy cream with rich fatty coconut milk. You want to use the full-fat canned variety or make it from scratch. The good thing is the coconut cream does not need to be separated out, just use it straight from the can.
The ganache should be made by weighing the coconut milk and chocolate so you can get the right consistency. That’s why I suggest using a kitchen scale to measure, well, pretty much everything, but especially the ganache components. Some recipes for ganache call for a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream to chocolate. I found that with coconut milk the resulting ganache was too thick with a 1:1 ratio, so I prefer a 3:2 ratio of coconut milk to chocolate.
The ganache needs to chill and firm up before whipping it, so I like to make it the night before and just let it sit in the fridge until I’m ready to frost the cake the next day. I often bake the cake the night before as well, because the flavor improves the following day. You just need to be sure to wrap the cooled cake well, so that it does not dry out. Once the ganache has chilled and set, it whips up into a thick fluffy glossy luscious frosting in minutes.
This may look like a over-indulgent thick layer of frosting, but realize that it is not made with 2 lbs of powdered sugar and is, therefore, not sickly sweet like a thick layer of buttercream would be. Because we’re basically using just dark chocolate and coconut milk the frosting is not terribly sweet at all, which I love. I even add a couple tablespoons of sweetener to the ganache just to offset the bitter edge of dark chocolate. Think of this like a decadent truffle filling on top of an amazing layer of chocolate cake. Just get me a ice cold glass of milk with my slice and I’m good.
Bottom line: this cake is easy, simple and so delicious. Its components can be made ahead of time and assembled right before serving. It’s perfect for Sunday cake, birthday celebrations and special occasions. Also, don’t forget to bookmark it for Valentine’s 2021!
Vegan Chocolate Cake with Whipped Coconut Milk Ganache
- 1 1/2 cups 210 g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 200 g whole cane sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup 20 g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup hot coffee or hot water
- 6 tablespoons 90 mL oil such as canola, sunflower, olive etc.
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup 318 g coconut milk (homemade or canned, not the drinking beverage variety)
- 212 g or 7.5 oz. dark chocolate ≈70% cacao, about 1 cup when chopped
- 2 tablespoons 25 g sweetener such as sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Start by preparing the ganache. Chop chocolate into small chunks and set aside. Whisk coconut milk, sweetener, and salt together in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture starts to release steam but does not come to a boil, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Add chopped chocolate and let it sit for 10-20 seconds so that it starts melting. Then whisk the chocolate into the coconut milk until the mixture is glossy and smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl if you will be using a hand mixer. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the ganache and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight until the ganache is firm and set.
- Bake the cake while the ganache chills. Preheat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C with rack in the center. Cut an 8” diameter circle out of parchment paper (trace the bottom of an 8” round cake pan onto the paper before you grease the pan or use these pre-cut parchment circles). Grease an 8” round cake pan then press the parchment paper round into the bottom of the pan. Grease the top of the parchment paper then dust the interior bottom and sides with flour or sifted cocoa powder, tapping out excess.
- Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl, then whisk to evenly combine.
- Whisk together hot coffee or water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl or large measuring cup.
- Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk to combine for about 30 seconds until you have a smooth, runny batter. Be careful not to over-mix the batter, and don't whisk vigorously.
- Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake at 350˚F for 35-40 minutes, until the cake comes away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven.
- Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes then invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack and lift the cake pan off from the cake. The pan should release easily. Peel the parchment paper off of the cake and let the cake cool to room temperature before frosting it.
- When the ganache has set in the fridge, take it out and whip it with a balloon whisk attachment on a stand mixer or with a hand mixer on high speed until it is smooth, shiny, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the cooled cake to a serving dish or cake plate with the top of the cake facing up. Spread the whipped ganache in one thick layer over the top of the cake using an offset spatula.
- Cut cake into slices and serve.
- Left over cake with keep for up to 3 days, well wrapped and refrigerated.
- You can use granulated (caster) sugar, organic sugar, whole cane sugar (aka rapadura/panela), or coconut palm sugar interchangeably in the cake recipe.
- You can use instant espresso or coffee instead brewing coffee. Boil the water and then stir in 1 teaspoon of the instant espresso/coffee granules. If you don’t want to use coffee just use boiling water instead.
- I’ve used canola oil, sunflower oil, light olive oil and extra virgin olive oil in this recipe and they all work. Any vegetable-based liquid oil should work.
- Use regular, full-fat canned coconut milk (or homemade if you make coconut milk from scratch) for the ganache, not the light stuff, and not beverage-style coconut milk.
- It is best to weigh out the coconut milk and chocolate for the ganache to get the right consistency for the finished frosting. This is a kitchen scale I suggest.
- You can use dark chocolate chips instead of chopping a block of dark chocolate.
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