For years, I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free chocolate cake recipe after recipe, and most of the time, they turned out … okay. I’d add a little of this, hold back on that, take the the best of the crumbly one with good flavor, merge it with the tender one that isn’t nearly chocolatey enough. Add a melted chocolate bar or stick with cocoa powder? Dairy or no dairy? Extra egg to make it fluffy, or less egg for a richer, denser bite?
Well, today is a good day. After trying every trick, hack, and ingredient combination under the sun, I think I found the gluten-free chocolate cake recipe of my dreams (and yours, too).
What did it? This gluten-free chocolate cake has a secret ingredient that I’m going to start adding to a lot more of my flourless desserts.
This ingredient turned a kind of dry-looking, gloopy dough into a dreamy batter that I knew would bake up into the soft, springy cake that I remember from my gluten-happy childhood. And, I was right. This ingredient added stability (sometimes hard to come by in gluten-free desserts), moisture, and tenderness, and its subtle tanginess really woke up the rich chocolate flavor.
Do you want to know what the secret ingredient is? You probably have it in your pantry right now.
I know, mayo is about the least sexy dessert ingredient you can think of, but trust me on this one. When you’re working with an almond flour cake recipe, mayo adds something special. If you’re unsure, don’t let it keep you from trying this chocolate cake recipe. I promise you won’t taste it like you would in, say, a turkey sandwich. But it helps the flavors in your cake get to know each other, and your finished product develops a decadently fudgy texture after it’s been refrigerated.
Still hesitant? It’s only 1/4 cup of mayo. Don’t be scared.
Let’s make some cake.
Soft, Springy Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Recipe (with Dairy-free Option)
- 5.5 oz. chopped 70% cacao or higher dark chocolate (use a dairy-free chocolate if you want to keep it dairy-free)
- 1/3 cup honey (the kind that pours easily)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (refined or unrefined)
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup mayo made with avocado oil 
- 4 eggs, room temperature and separated
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder (plus more, for dusting the pan)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- Avocado oil spray 
- To garnish: Additional dark chocolate to drizzle on top and berries
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler method. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and heat it over medium heat. Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl that is larger than the diameter of the pot. Once the water is hot, place the bowl over the pot. Use a spoon or spatula to mix the chocolate to encourage it to melt.
If the bowl gets too hot, you can turn off the heat. The residual heat of the water will continue to melt the chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate by microwaving it in 20 second increments until melted and smooth. Be careful with the microwave method though, it can burn quickly!
Stir in the honey, coconut oil, almond extract and vanilla extract until the coconut oil is melted and everything is combined.
Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.
In another bowl (or in the same bowl as the melted chocolate if the chocolate is cooled off), mix together the egg yolks and the mayonnaise.
Mix in the almond flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Mix together the chocolate mixture and the mayo mixture in one bowl until everything is combined.
Place the egg whites in a large clean metal or glass bowl. Use a whisk or hand mixer to whip the eggs until stiff peaks form.
Use a silicone spatula to fold small amounts of the beaten egg whites into the batter, gently folding the whites into the batter in a sweeping motion to prevent deflating the egg whites too much. Continue folding until there are no streaks from the egg whites left in the batter.
Spray your 7” springform pan with avocado oil. Use a sifter to sift some cocoa powder around the bottom and sides of the pan until the interior of the pan is covered with a thin layer of cocoa powder. Pour the batter into the pan and place the pan on top of a sheet pan to catch any batter that might seep out of the sides.
Bake the cake for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until the top of the cake has cracked slightly and feels springy to the touch.
Allow the cake to cool, remove it from the pan, and top with melted chocolate, berries, or any toppings you’d like.
- This cake is mildly sweet as written with 1/3 cup honey and 70% chocolate. For a sweeter cake, you can add a little more honey or use a chocolate with a lower cacao percentage. For a more rich chocolate flavor that’s less sweet, you can use a darker chocolate, but I recommend 70% here.
- This recipe provides instructions for baking in a 7” springform pan, but you can also bake it in an 8” pan or a loaf pan. A loaf will take 40-50 minutes to cook and a cake in a larger pan will take less time than a 7 inch.
- Once the cake is cooled, cut it and store it in the fridge. The cake develops a divine fudgy texture once cold and is my preferred way to enjoy it!
- Somehow have leftovers? This cake freezes well. Simply wrap it tightly prior to freezing to prevent freezer burn and to keep the cake from drying out.