This chocolate cake is life-changing! Super moist and ultra-decadent, you’d never know it was gluten-free!
This cake has taken over my mind and soul since I spied it on Sally’s blog. Sally promised me it would be lifechanging. That it is super moist and absolutely rich and decadent. The thing that intrigued me the very most about it, though, is that it is made with quinoa.
No flour! Just quinoa and a bunch of other basic cake ingredients. Quinoa? In a cake? No flour? Huh? Nothing against gluten-free cake recipes but usually they call for special flour mixes that I never have on hand and can’t access in my small town; I’ve never seen one with cooked quinoa as a base.
But since this cake was calling to me and I always have quinoa in my pantry, I decided to do an experiment. I made this lovely cake one Saturday afternoon when Brian was entertaining the kids. None of them knew I was frolicking in the kitchen blending up quinoa and eggs for a cake of all things. Brian and the boys kept sneaking glances at the finished masterpiece (because, while rustic since I didn’t frost the sides, it was quite the impressive piece of chocolate decadence) begging for a taste.
Shockingly it stayed safe for an entire night, and Sunday afternoon, I pulled out the beauty, divvied up the slices and we all dug in.
The Secret Ingredient
After a few bites (of which I was completely overwhelmed with utter chocolate cake bliss), I said to the crew, “So I’ll give you a second piece if you can guess the secret ingredient.”
We play this game a lot so I wasn’t surprised to hear guesses like “coconut oil” and “spinach” and “black beans.”
With a smug smile (mostly smug because I was going to get to claim the second piece as my own) I told them the cake was made with quinoa, and seriously, Brian almost fell off his chair. I really should have had a video camera going as I’m sure I could have won a lot of money on AFV for his reaction.
How it Works
Instead of mixing up a traditional cake batter of wet ingredients + dry ingredients, in this recipe, cooked and cooled quinoa is blended up with the milk, eggs, vanilla and butter until it is ultra-smooth (I use my Vitamix). Cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, and salt are whisked in and the batter is ready to bake!
Quinoa replaces the flour to add structure to the cake…and I actually think the quinoa contributes to how crazy soft and moist the cake is. This gluten-free chocolate quinoa cake is definitely one of the most decadent, rich, moist cakes I’ve ever tasted!
FAQs for Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting
A lot of people in the comments have easily made this cake dairy free with substitutions – so read through the comment thread for details. One commenter, said: I made these into dairy free cupcakes by subbing 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup earth balance margarine for the butter and did a chocolate coconut cream whipped frosting. Oh. My. Delicious!!!
Yes, it freezes great!
Yes, and it works beautifully! It made 24 and I baked them for about 15 minutes. They don’t have the pretty domed top like bakery cupcakes, but even though they are kind of flattish, they still taste incredible.
I always use white quinoa.
My only attempt at making this chocolate gluten-free cake into a yellow cake was a total disaster. However Nadja commented below: “I just tried to adapt the recipe so it would be a yellow cake version. I simply added the same amount of gluten-free flour instead of Cocoa-powder. It turned out beautifully!!! The only thing to note is that without the cocoa, you can taste the quinoa much stronger, so I will experiment with some more flavors to make it less dominant.”
- 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (see note)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
- Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Process just until combined. Add the cooked quinoa and the butter. Blend well until smooth.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the contents from the blender and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on a rack in the middle position for 28-30 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto cooling racks (remove the parchment paper stuck to the bottom of the cakes).
- For the frosting, place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the whipping cream in a saucepan until it gently simmers. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let the mixture sit for five minutes. Whisk to combine until it is glossy and smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled and cold (2-3 hours). You can speed up this process by placing the bottom of the bowl in an ice water bath and stirring until cool. When fully chilled, use an electric mixer (stand mixer or handheld) to whip the mixture to soft peaks.
- Place one cake layer upside down on a serving platter or plate. Top with a generous portion (about half) of the whipped frosting, spreading to within 1/2-inch of the edge of the cake (it will press to the edge when the top cake layer is put on).
- Gently put the other cake layer upside down on top of the frosted layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake. You could definitely frost the sides, too, but I like the more rustic look for this cake - frosting just the middle and top.
- Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to let the frosting set up a bit.
Quinoa Amount: you'll need about 1/2 cup (maybe a bit more) dry quinoa for 2 cups cooked. Make sure to measure the quinoa for the cake recipe after it is cooked and cooled.
Cooking the Quinoa: also, make sure to cook the quinoa in water not broth.