February 26, 2023


When I became vegan a little over a year ago, I started pinning all sorts of vegan recipes to Pinterest. And when I saw this recipe for chocolate cake, it looked SO delicious that I just had to pin it and look for a reason to make it. I stuck it in my recipe binder (yes, I print recipes!) and forgot about it. Occasionally, I would think, "Oh yeah, I need to make that chocolate cake!"

I wanted to have Luke and Riley (my nephew and niece) over, and it was the day before Brian's birthday. I thought they might like to decorate a cake for their dad. Kids that age have a short attention span, so I didn't want to go through the whole process with them of baking a cake, letting it cool, frosting it, and then decorating--I figured I'd get it baked and frosted, then the kids could decorate (the fun part).

Well, this cake almost didn't happen. The first attempt was a (humorous) disaster.

But I'll get to that in a minute. This recipe for "The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake" is from Nora Cooks. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.) The reviews on it were so good that my hopes were high.

Since I already posted a little about it on Friday Night Photos, I will go ahead and say that this was the BEST chocolate cake I've ever had--vegan or not!

First, the ingredients:

Apple cider vinegar, canola oil, vanilla extract, unsweetened original almond milk, vegan butter, flour, cocoa powder, vegan sugar, powdered sugar, applesauce, baking powder, baking soda, and boiling water (not pictured).

Notes about the ingredients: The vegan butter I used was Earth Balance brand and the sticks are shorter but fatter--they are still 1/2 cup, like other sticks of butter. Also, as you can see, I had to make more powdered sugar (I just put vegan sugar in the blender and blend until it's powdery). I usually use soy milk for everything, but I wanted to stick to the recipe as written, so I bought almond milk for it.

You start the recipe by making vegan buttermilk--combine the almond milk with vinegar and set it aside to curdle. This is what it ended up looking like:

Curdled anything always grosses me out--but I know it's actually common to use it in baking. I set that aside and moved on.

Next, you prep a couple of round cake pans by greasing and adding parchment paper underneath. I had to cut circles out of the parchment. My pans are VERY non-stick because they haven't been used much, so I didn't grease them.

Next, you combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. It doesn't say to use a mixer, but I put them in the mixing bowl for my stand mixer because stirring things by hand flares up my carpal tunnel. It also didn't say to sift anything, but my cocoa powder had lots of clumps so I sifted that into the bowl. I also sifted a little of the flour with the baking powder because the baking power tends to clump as well. 

It said to whisk until combined. I just grabbed a hand whisk rather than swapping out the attachments for the stand mixer--it only takes a few seconds to whisk that.

Then you add the oil, applesauce, vanilla, and the curdled almond milk. This is where my first problem occurred. I had JUST enough vanilla extract for the cake, so I was careful not to spill it when pouring it into the measuring spoon. As I moved the spoon toward the bowl, I dropped the goddamn thing and the vanilla--the last of the vanilla--went everywhere.

So, I had Noah pick up some vanilla on his way home from school. I wanted to make this following the recipe EXACTLY and I couldn't skip the vanilla! Once I had the vanilla, I mixed in the liquid ingredients (not the water yet). It was very thick:

Once that is mixed, you add the boiling water and continue mixing. I had put water in my electric kettle, so I just turned that on while I was mixing the other ingredients.

The recipe says that the batter will be thin, and it definitely was--it looked like I was on the right track.

Then you divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake at 350℉ for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (I always add a tablespoon or so of batter to a cupcake mold, and bake it along with the cake. That way I can taste it without cutting into the cake.)

Here is where the big disaster came in...

I was cleaning up the mess in the kitchen and, naturally, tasted the batter from the mixing bowl. It tasted really bad. I couldn't understand why! I'd followed everything right down to the letter, but it didn't taste sweet at all; so, I looked at the recipe to double check the measurements and everything. It called for 1-3/4 cups of sugar--and I couldn't remember measuring that out. One and 3/4 cups is a measurement I would remember because it's not very common. I looked through my photos and I went over the steps again in my head.

I realized I had forgotten the sugar. Of all things!

I was curious how it would turn out, though, so I finished baking it. When I pulled the cupcake out, it looked really good!

I tasted it and nearly spit it out. It was SO BAD. So, of course, I said to Jerry, "Hey, try a bite of this cake and tell me what you think." I left out the part about no sugar. His face when he took a bite was so funny--and he DID spit it out haha. The cake itself looked kind of odd when it came out--the top was perfectly smooth and the cake was very flat. It's what I always hoped my cakes would look like when pulling from the oven, haha.

I still really wanted to try this cake, so I started from scratch. I won't go through all the pictures again, so just pretend that the batter above had sugar in it.

I really like cake that has been just barely underbaked, so I took it out after 30 minutes. It looked a lot different from the sugarless one!

Next: The frosting!! My favorite. I was glad that the recipe said there is a lot of frosting--enough for a thick layer in the middle and on the top and sides.

To make the frosting, you just add the (softened) vegan butter and the cocoa powder to a mixer.

Mix well. This is what it looked like before adding the powdered sugar:

Then you add half the powdered sugar and half the almond milk--mix well. Add the vanilla, the rest of the sugar, and milk and beat until light and fluffy.

It looked so good! (And of course I tasted it at this point--YUM.)

The hardest part here was waiting for the cake to cool so that I could frost it. Finally, it was time to frost! (I don't have a cake plate, so I just turned a CorningWare tart dish upside down.) The recipe was right--there was a LOT of frosting! I put a thick later on the bottom half before topping it with the second round.

I spread the frosting all over, very thickly, but I still had frosting left over! Noah and Eli were happy to take care of that.

I'm not a baker, so my frosting skills are, well, non-existent. But I figured the kids would be decorating it, so it would be hidden anyway.

After I made the cake, Becky said that Luke was sick. So, the kids didn't end up coming over and I had a whole chocolate cake in my house. I decided to eat one piece, then send the rest with Noah over to my parents' house. It would have beckoned me constantly until it was gone.

Well, one bite and I fell in love. It was PERFECT--slightly underbaked so it was very moist, very chocolatey, and the cake to frosting ratio couldn't have been better. (Well, unless you don't like frosting. In that case, you could easily cut the frosting recipe in half and still have enough for a thin layer all around.)

Jerry and the kids tried it, too. All three of them were in love with this cake as well--even ELI. This is a recipe that I am 99% sure people wouldn't know was vegan unless you tell them. It tastes just like a very moist, chocolatey piece of cake with thick chocolate buttercream frosting. Literally the best chocolate cake I've ever tasted! (I still managed to only eat one piece--a challenge for sure.)

You can find the recipe for "The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake" at Nora Cooks.


  1. I love this recipe and it's my go-to for chocolate cakes now. If you really want to take it over the edge, swap out the cup of boiling water for a cup of boiling decaf of normal coffee. It makes the chocolate flavor incredibly rich while still keeping the amazing texture of the cake.

  2. OMG! I remember the post about this before. I need to find someone who loves to bake so they can make this for my birthday!! YUM!!


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