The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake and the only recipe you will need! A simple, delicious, and rich chocolate cake, easy to make, and fully vegan.
As far as cakes go, nothing beats a classic chocolate cake, and today I am very proud to present to you the best vegan chocolate cake, and the only chocolate cake recipe you will ever need again 🙂
This is a simple, honest, and homemade chocolate cake that you can make even if you’re not a very good baker. It’s not overly complicated, or sophisticated, and doesn’t require a lot of techniques to get it done.
You will enjoy the simplicity when you can spend less time decorating, and more time just enjoying every bit of this rich and decadent vegan chocolate cake.
This cake also does not include buttercream frosting, because I do not like buttercream frosting. Instead, we made a delicious whipped chocolate ganache made with coconut milk and dark chocolate. It’s easy, rich, decadent, and delicious!
Ingredients for the cake
This recipe makes about 4 layers of an 8-inch (20 cm) sponge cake. I baked the layers separately, but you can do it in one regular cake pan and cut the layers yourself, I am just not very good at cutting the layers, and this works best for me.
To make the chocolate sponge cake you will need a few basic pantry staples:
- soy milk, or other plant-based milk like almond milk
- apple cider vinegar
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- cacao powder; make sure your cacao powder is fresh, or the cake will taste a bit bitter
- espresso powder; is not vital to the recipe and you can skip it if you don’t like it… but I highly recommend adding it
- baking powder
- baking soda
- canola oil, or other neutral-flavored oil, like sunflower seed oil
- applesauce; if you don’t have applesauce, you can substitute it with an egg replacer, aquafaba, or with 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds + 4 tbsp water)
- vanilla extract
How to make the sponge cake
Start by preheating your oven to 160°C / 350°F and lightly grease and flour your cake pans. Use 20-22 cm / 8-9 inches cake pans for this recipe.
Combine soy milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes for the milk to curdle.
Take a large bowl, and add in all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cacao powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well to combine.
Then, to the same bowl, add canola oil, applesauce, vanilla, and the curdled milk and vinegar mixture. Whisk again until combined and there are no dry flour patches but don’t overmix the batter.
Lastly, carefully pour in the boiling hot water, while still mixing the batter.
Divide your batter between your cake pans (or just pour it into one cake pan – see below), then transfer the cake pans into the preheated oven and bake until done (about 10-12 minutes per single layer, or 30-35 minutes for the whole cake). Check with a toothpick to see when the cake is done – insert it straight into the middle of the cake and remove it. It should come out clean, with no batter sticking to it.
Remove the baked sponge cake from the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a kitchen rack and cool down completely.
Cut the cake into 2-4 layers, as needed.
A word on cake pans and baking times
I used 4 x 8-inch cake pans and baked every layer of the cake separately, because I am terrible at cutting sponge cake, and this method works for me. I baked each layer for 10-12 minutes. If you’re baking one high sponge cake and cutting it yourself, bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes and test with a toothpick when the cake is done. You can then cut it in as many layers as you like, 2-4 will work, but you may need less filling with only 2 layers.
Ingredients for the filling and frosting
To make the cake filling and chocolate ganache frosting you will only need 5 pantry staple ingredients:
- coconut milk
- vanilla extract
- icing sugar
- vegan chocolate spread (like vegan “nutella”)
- melting dark chocolate
Remember to refrigerate the coconut milk overnight so the cream sets.
How to make the cream filling
Use a can of coconut milk that you have refrigerated overnight. Scoop the creamy and dense coconut cream out of the can and into a bowl (don’t use the coconut water).
With a hand mixer whisk the coconut cream for about 4 minutes until light and airy, then add vanilla and icing sugar and whisk again.
Lastly, add the vegan chocolate spread of your choice and whisk again until combined.
Use this cream filling to top the cake layers when assembling the cake.
How to make the vegan chocolate ganache frosting
Making the chocolate ganache frosting is really easy! Just heat up a can of coconut milk (use the solid cream part) in a saucepan. Once it’s almost to a boiling point, remove it from the heat and pour over the dark chocolate. Let the chocolate sit in the hot coconut milk for a couple of minutes so it melts, then whisk it together into a smooth and glossy chocolate ganache.
You can already use the ganache as a dipping sauce, or to make a drip cake, but to make the frosting, let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours so it cools down. Then, whisk the chocolate again to achieve a creamy and airy frosting.
Please read the troubleshooting notes below about the chocolate ganache frosting, if you’re having trouble with it.
How to assemble the vegan chocolate cake
The last step is just to assemble this vegan chocolate cake.
To keep the serving dish clean you can place some parchment paper below the first cake layer (see photo below). Once you’re done frosting, carefully pull the parchment paper away from the cake.
One thing I like to do to make assembling easier is to use a cake ring and acetate foil which help the cake keep its form when setting. But this is totally optional and not necessary.
If you are using the cake ring: place one cake layer on a serving dish upside down, then wrap it in acetate foil and set the cake ring in place. Then, spread the chocolate filling on top. Cover with another cake layer and repeat.
If you are not using the cake ring: take one cake layer, flip it upside down so the top faces down, and place it on a serving dish. Proceed to top it with the chocolate filling, spreading it out evenly. Cover with another cake layer and repeat. Finish with a layer of cake.
Place the cake to set in the fridge for half an hour, or overnight.
Once the cake sets, remove it from the fridge. If you’re using a cake ring, remove it along with the acetate foil before frosting.
Then, frost the cake with the chocolate ganache frosting to your liking and decorate with chocolate shavings.
Serve the cake immediately, or place it back in the fridge.
To serve this cake we highly recommend removing it from the fridge about half an hour before serving time. This will help the ganache to soften and get creamier, otherwise, it can be quite dense to eat due to the solidified coconut milk.
Can I make this cake in advance?
Yes, the whole cake will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. But you can also bake the sponge cake a day in advance before assembling, and you can also make the filling and frosting up to a day in advance.
If you choose to make the chocolate ganache frosting in advance just a reminder, that the ganache will set and firm up in the fridge. It will become dense and difficult to work with. So when you’re ready to frost the cake, take the frosting out of the fridge and set it on the counter at room temperature for 2 hours. Then, if needed, add 1-2 tbsp of plant milk and fold it repeatedly into the frosting. This will help it soften and become easier to work with.
Keep the cake refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. Remove from fridge about half an hour before serving time.
Can I freeze this vegan chocolate cake?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze the cake to enjoy it another day. I sliced it up, covered each cake slice in parchment paper tightly, and then wrapped it in aluminum foil before freezing it. Make sure the cake is tightly wrapped so no air gets to it to avoid freezer burn.
You can keep it frozen for up to 3 months.
When you want to enjoy your cake, remove it from the freezer, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, set it on your counter for half an hour before eating.
- 1 cup (250 ml) soy milk
- 1 tbsp (20 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
- 50 grams cacao powder
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) canola oil
- 2/3 cups (180 ml) applesauce
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
- 400 ml coconut milk, chilled overnight
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 3 tbsp vegan chocolate spread (like "nutella")
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 230 grams dark chocolate
MAKE THE SPONGE CAKE:
- Preheat your oven to 160°C / 350°F and lightly grease and flour your cake pans (20-22 cm / 8-9 inches will work). See notes for more info on cake pans.
- Combine 1 cup soy milk and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, mix and set aside for 10 minutes. The vinegar will curdle the milk and thus making it into vegan buttermilk.
- To a large bowl, add 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 50 grams cacao powder, 1 tsp espresso powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt. Whisk to combine.
- To the same bowl, add 1/2 cup canola oil, 2/3 cups applesauce, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and the curdled milk and vinegar mixture. Whisk well until combined, but don't overmix (you can use a hand mixer on low for this).
- While still mixing, carefully add in 1 cup of boiling water and mix into the cake batter.
- Now, divide your cake batter between your cake pans (see notes), or pour it all in, if you're only using one cake pan. Transfer your cake pans into the preheated oven and bake until done. If you're doing multiple cake pans, the baking time will be about 10-12 minutes, for one cake pan bake for about 30-35 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see when the cake is done - insert it straight into the middle of the cake and remove it - it should come out clean, with no batter sticking to it.
- Once the sponge cake is done, remove it from the oven, let it cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a kitchen rack and let cool down completely. Then cut the cake into 2-4 layers, if needed.
MAKE THE FILLING:
- Refrigerate a can of coconut milk (400 ml) overnight. Scoop the creamy and dense coconut cream out of the can and into a bowl. With a hand mixer whisk the coconut cream for about 4 minutes until light and airy.
- Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp icing sugar to the cream and whisk again for another minute.
- Add 3 tbsp of vegan chocolate spread of your choice (like "nutella") and whisk until combined.
MAKE THE FROSTING:
- To make the chocolate ganache frosting pour 400 ml of coconut milk (use the solid cream) into a saucepan and heat it up. Bring to almost a boil (don't let it boil), then remove from the heat and pour over 230 grams of dark chocolate of your choice (I used 70% dark chocolate melting chips).
- Let the chocolate sit in the hot coconut milk for 5 minutes to melt.
- When the chocolate is melted, whisk the chocolate and coconut milk to combine into a smooth and glossy chocolate ganache.
- Let the chocolate ganache sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then whisk it again to get a creamy and airy frosting. See troubleshooting notes for this step.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
- I like to use a cake ring and acetate foil to assemble the cake and let it keep its form, but it's not necessary. Take one cake layer, flip it upside down so the top faces down, and place it on a serving dish. Top with 1/3 of the chocolate filling and spread it out evenly. Cover with another cake layer and repeat. Finish with a layer of cake.
- Place the cake for half an hour (or overnight) in the fridge, so the layers and the filling set.
- If you're using a cake ring, remove it along with the acetate foil before frosting.
- Frost the cake with the chocolate ganache frosting to your liking and decorate with chocolate shavings.
- Place the cake back in the fridge to set.
- To serve, remove the cake from the fridge about half an hour before serving time to let the ganache soften - we highly recommend this step.
To bake the sponge cake: I used 4 cake pans (8 inches) and baked every layer of the cake separately, because I am terrible at cutting the sponge cake, and this method works for me. I baked each layer for 10-12 minutes. If you're baking one spongecake and cutting it, bake it for about 30-35 minutes and test with a toothpick when the cake is done. You can then cut it in as many layers as you like, 2-4 will work.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 503Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 358mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 3gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g
Nutrition data is automatically calculated using Nutritionix and may not be accurate.
Troubleshooting the recipe
- my chocolate frosting is too runny
Put it in the fridge for 15 minutes to harden
- my chocolate frosting is too hard
if your frosting chilled too much and you can’t get it airy – let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then add 1-2 tbsp of plant milk and fold it into the chocolate frosting, until it gets easier to work with
- the cake is too dense when serving from the fridge
your frosting has set and hardened. Bring the cake out of the fridge about half an hour before serving to bring the cream back to a softer and creamier consistency
- my cake is not sweet enough
if you like your dessert extra sweet, add more icing sugar to the filling, add 1 tbsp icing sugar to the ganache, and up to 1 cup more of granulated sugar to the sponge cake
Did you make this recipe? Let us know in the comments below or on social media by using #vibrantplate and tag us @vibrantplate. We’re always happy to read your feedback and LOVE seeing your take on our recipes.
Try also one of our other delicious vegan cakes:
- Vegan Coconut Strawberry Cake
- Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Vegan Raspberry Cream Cake
- Vegan Black Forest Naked Cake
- Salted Caramel Fig Vegan Cake
- No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Pie