Healthy Chocolate Cake Recipe

chocolate cake recipe
Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share with you not one, but two deliciously decadent, moist and healthy cake recipes. We’ve given classic chocolate cake a healthy twist by cutting the refined sugar but keeping all the chocolaty goodness that we expect in every bite of truly tasty chocolate cake. The dark chocolate and cacao powder used in both cakes provides a wonderful richness that also delivers big on health-boosting compounds and stress-reducing properties.

Both cakes can be gluten-free or vegan. They check all the boxes on taste, texture, and flavor. The first one is a very classic layer cake topped with a chocolate avocado frosting that provides the perfect creaminess.  This is a showstopper and will wow your taste buds. The second one, a chocolate zucchini cake, is a quick and easy one-bowl cake that showcases a great way to add a vegetable while creating an extraordinary taste and texture.  It is paired with a raspberry jam that adds brightness, and topped with melted chocolate for a decadent elegance.

What better way then to honor our beloved chocolate than with two deliciously rich, moist cakes that are full of flavor and good-for-you ingredients? So start baking to celebrate and enjoy Chocolate Cake Cay to the fullest.

OPTION 1: Classic Chocolate Layer Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 cup boiling water or 1 cup very hot coffee
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 chia eggs* or 2 eggs
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (Try oat, hazelnut, almond, or coconut) or whole dairy milk or buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup oil, either avocado, coconut or olive
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* If using a chia egg, mix together 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds with 6 tablespoons of water until well combined. Let sit for about 1-2 minutes or until goopy like regular eggs.

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
Avocado Chocolate Frosting*
Ingredients
  • Flesh of 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter at room temperature

* This makes enough to fill the middle and the top. If you want to frost the sides too, double the recipe.

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Prepare two 8” round cake pans with parchment paper rounds on the bottom and then grease the sides of the pans.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate chips in the boiling water or coffee and whisk to combine, set aside.
  4. Whisk together the wet ingredients by hand or use an electric mixer on medium/high for 2 minutes.
  5. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until well combined.
  6. In a separate bowl stir the dry ingredients together.
  7. Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet mixture by hand or on the lowest setting of an electric mixer until well-combined but make sure to not over-mix. Ensure there are no flour lumps or pockets.
  8. Divide the cake mixture evenly into the two prepared cake pans.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes if a toothpick comes out clean, if not continue baking and checking every few minutes.
  10. While cakes are baking, make the frosting by putting all ingredients in a high power blender or in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  11. Remove cakes from the oven and allow cooling for 10 minutes in the cake pan. Then run a knife along the sides and flip out onto a rack peal of parchment paper and finish cooling.
  12. Once cakes are completely cool, place one round on a serving platter or cake plate.  Top with 1/2 of the frosting and smooth evenly.  Top with the other cake round and top with remaining frosting and smooth evenly.
  13. You can decorate cake with fresh fruit, coconut or chocolate shavings.
OPTION 2: Chocolate Zucchini Cake
chocolate Zucchini cake
Chocolate cheesecake with raspberries.
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 zucchini, shredded and excess water squeezed out
  • ½ cup non-dairy yogurt or plain yogurt
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs or chia eggs*
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups almond flour
  • ½ cups whole wheat or all purpose gluten free flour or oat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

* If using a chia egg, mix together 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds with 6 tablespoons of water until well combined. Let sit for about 1-2 minutes or until goopy like regular eggs.

Chocolate Topping
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
  • Fresh raspberries to garnish
Raspberry Chia Jam
  • 1 10-oz bag of frozen raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare a 9” round or 8” square cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom.  Grease the sides.
  2. Measure 1 heaping cup of shredded zucchini.
  3. Combine the zucchini, yogurt, eggs, oil, maple syrup and melted chocolate, vanilla and whisk together.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and gently whisk together until fully combined.
  5. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before flipping it out.
  6. While the cake is cooling make the Raspberry Chia Jam.
  7. Add all ingredients to a saucepan. Cover and put on medium heat.
  8. Stir it after 5 minutes. Uncover it and allow it to cook for 5-7 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  9. Pour into a bowl and allow it to thicken as it cools.
  10. After the cake has cooled, make the chocolate topping. Melt the chocolate with coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Once melted, set aside.
  11. Flip cake out onto a cake plate or serving tray. Top with jam and smooth evenly over the top.
  12. Pour chocolate topping over cake and allow it to flow over the sides.
  13. Sprinkle it with sea salt and decorate with raspberries.
Nutrient Highlights

Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder:  Improved cardiovascular health by the polyphenols (antioxidants) reducing the levels of nitric oxide in our blood, helping to increase blood flow through arteries and blood vessels as well as increase blood flow to the brain. It has also been shown to help reduce stress and make us feel happier.

Vanilla Extract: Macerated vanilla beans in solution of alcohol and water. The extract is used to enhance other flavors in baking.

Zucchini: Nutrient-dense vegetable packed full of fiber and water that aids in digestive health. The insoluble fiber helps us stay regular and the soluble fiber is a “prebiotic” food for the good bacteria to promote a healthy gut. It also plays a role in preventing oxidative stress to reduce the risk of developing cancer due to its high amounts of zeaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant).

Berries: Extremely nutrient dense. Contains high amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Berries are packed full of antioxidants for immune supporting and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant, anthocyanin, can repair DNA damage to protect against aging and cancer and increase overall circulation. Berries are great brain food, improving our overall brain functioning. They can boost our mood and strengthen our memory.

Yogurt:  The live culture bacteria in yogurt makes this food a probiotic. Diversifying and increasing the good bacteria in our gut can strengthen your immune system, improve your mood, heal digestive disorders and boost overall health. The fermentation of bacteria breaks down the lactose in the milk into lactic acid making it easier to digest especially for people who are lactose intolerant.

Eggs: It is important to buy pasture raised or cage-free eggs. These eggs will be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids to lower inflammation, maintain brain functioning and vision along with being a natural source of vitamin D for strong bones and immune support.

Chia SeedsExcellent source of fiber (10g in just 2 Tbsp of chia!). Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When you soak chia in a liquid (i.e. milk or water), it takes on a gel-like texture due to the high fiber content. This gel coats the gut and helps slow digestion to make you feel satisfied. It also helps bulk up stool and feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. It is also high in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which can help protect bone health and fight off osteoporosis.

Cardamom:  A relative of ginger and turmeric, with very similar health benefits. It can help normalize blood pressure and lower risk of stroke by relaxing the heart muscles. It can also help treat digestive issues by protecting the stomach lining.

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