Healthy(ish) Chocolate Cake

Posted on July 25, 2012

I’ve been on holiday this week so have turned my hands to baking. This is what I’ve come up with so far.
About the cake
I saw a nutritionist recently in my quest to eat a healthier diet. As well as advice on what to eat, and lots of fantastic recipes, she gave me lots of tips on how to substitute healthier products in cooking and baking. This cake is my first solo attempt to make a recipe healthier and I’m very pleased with the results. However, the recipe isn’t exactly over-brimming with unhealthy ingredients so you may just want to stick to the original or simply substitute a couple of things like the cocoa powder for Raw Peruvian Cacao powder.

You can find the original recipe here

This is my version (with the reasons for my substitutions in the notes below)


225g Doves Farm white gluten-free self-raising flour

100g Natural brown sugar

50ml of Agave syrup

85g Raw Peruvian Cacao powder

1½ tsp baking powder (gluten-free)

1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (gluten-free)

2 free-range eggs

250ml Kara coconut milk

125ml vegetable oil I forgot to add this – you can if you want a more moist cake

2 tsp vanilla extract I completely forgot this, too

200ml-220ml boiling water (until the mixture is very wet/liquid)


FROM THE ORIGINAL For the chocolate icing

200g/7oz plain chocolate

200ml/7fl oz double cream



  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. If you have two 20cm/8in sandwich tins, grease and line them. I only have one 24cm cake tin so I used 12 cupcakes cases as well. Unfortunately, the cupcakes burnt on the bottom so need to be in the oven for about ten minutes, I think.
  2. I lined my large cake tin by unrolling a piece of greaseproof paper big enough to cover the base and sides of the tin, then greased the tin with a little butter and pressed the paper down into it.
  3. Put all the cake ingredients apart from the boiling water into a large mixing bowl. You can use an electric whisk to mix everything together, but I used a wooden spoon. Be careful to get all the powder and flour mixed together. I combined the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.
  4. At this stage I tasted a little of the mixture and added some Agave Syrup until it was as sweet as I wanted.
  5. Once everything is combined, add the boiling water, a little at a time, until smooth. The cake mixture will now be very liquidy.
  6. If you’re using two tins divide the cake batter between the sandwich tins, if you’re using one tin and cupcakes pour the mixture into the tin, then pour the rest evenly between the cupcake cases.
  7.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, the cupcakes for less until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. I had a preheated fan oven, but you can experiment to find the right time for yours.
  8. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely, still in their tins, before icing. I had to take mine out as I set fire to the greaseproof paper by putting it too close to the hob. Because of the lack of oil and the fact it wasn’t completely cool, the base of the cake stuck slightly to the greaseproof paper but not too much.
  9. To store, I wrapped it in greaseproof paper. This morning it’s a tiny bit dry, but probably because I didn’t put it in an air-tight container.
  10. I only had one cake so didn’t attempt the icing or filling. But if you have, maybe try an organic chocolate like Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate to make it. I’ll attempt the icing next time but everyone who tried it liked it without it.

TO MAKE ICING (which I didn’t)

  1. For the chocolate icing, heat the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture until smooth, glossy and thickened. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.
  2. To assemble the cake, run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the cake tins to loosen the cakes. Carefully remove the cakes from the tins.
  3. Spread a little chocolate icing over the top of one of the chocolate cakes, then carefully top with the other cake.
  4. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and ice the cake all over with the chocolate icing, using a palette knife.


Notes on the substitutions

  • I get all these products from my local health food store, but you can find some in larger supermarkets.
  • I’ve been gluten-free for a few months now, which is why I substituted this flour. The lack of gluten means the cakes don’t rise very much, which is why I used self-raising gluten-free flour and heaped teaspoons of gluten-free baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  • I used natural brown sugar because it is less processed than white sugar, but you can use whichever you prefer. I didn’t use nearly as much because I prefer the chocolatey taste. Experiment with amounts to find which is best for you.
  • I ran out of sugar so the rest of the sweetness came from Agave Syrup. I didn’t use much and there’s lots of controversy over whether it’s good or bad for you. But you could try Date Syrup, which I actually prefer to Agave to sweeten to your preferred taste.
  • I used Raw Peruvian Cacao because it is high in magnesium, selenium, zinc, vitamin C and antioxidants. I used Raw Goodies brand as that’s what they have in my local health food shop but there are others.
  • I avoid most dairy products so use Kara Coconut Milk, which tastes like normal milk and is great for baking or on cereal.

These substitutions work for me and my allergies/intolerances, so do consider your allergies and intolerances when you’re making the cake and making changes.

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