Incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey, this is the ultimate gluten free, paleo and keto chocolate cake. Layer it up with sugar-free buttercream frosting, or simply do it sheet pan style with ganache (or vanilla ice cream!).
The Ultimate Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake 🍫
Intensely Chocolatey ‘N Ultra Moist!
Think of this chocolate cake as first cousin to our suuuper fudgy keto brownies (easily the most popular recipe on the site). They both bloom the cocoa with melted butter, leading to that beautifully intense chocolate kick.
Did you also know that chocolate cakes around the world are often made with an almond flour base? Yup! Think luxurious Italian chocolate cakes, where the almond meal is considered a prime pantry ingredient. So don’t think of this keto chocolate cake as second-best to the traditional wheat versions, but as a beautiful cake in it’s own right.
It’s incredibly moist and with a tender crumb. And while the cake is ideal for layering, you can always whip up just one layer (or even as muffins!).
p.s. this is also my chosen birthday cake year after year. It’s just so good and a true crowd pleaser!
You guys will essentially be following our super easy brownie methodology (see video for reference). The ratios are a little different though, and there is some added flax for a more crumb-like texture.
The most important thing though? The baking time! You’ll want to bake it until just set and a toothpick inserted comes out barely clean (roughly 15-18 mins). As any chocolate cake, baking too long will dry out the crumb.
The Sweetener 🍯
You’ve got options here. Think xylitol (no aftertaste and great texture), Lakanto (barely any aftertaste), and Swerve (some cooling sensation if you’re sensitive to it). Xylitol takes (much) longer to dry out though so your cake will be extra delicate right after baking, so just keep that in mind and allow it to cool in the pan for about 30 mins.
Fun fact: it might also be our taste buds here, but we’ve noticed that stevia-based sweeteners (such as Pyure) don’t work so great when chocolate is involved as the aftertaste is accentuated. So we cannot recommend enough that you don’t use stevia-based sweeteners here.
Oh, and if just paleo or gluten free (or not restricted by sugars), simply sub 1-to-1 with coconut or regular sugar.
If you’re opting for the cream cheese buttercream frosting, which comes highly recommended, your best option for no aftertaste is xylitol. But it must be powdered.
So get your blender out, make sure it’s completely dry, and process your sweetener of choice until powdered. Just make sure you wait a few moments for the dust to settle before opening the blender or food processor. Or you can always grab a bag of powdered erythritol (Lakanto or Swerve).
And if using xylitol, make sure to be careful if you have a pup or little animal around the house, as it’s highly toxic to the little guys! 🐕
Just keep in mind that for best texture and rise, you’ll always want to regrind your flaxseed meal in a dry blender or bullet.
The Chocolate 🍫
You’ll want to use a Dutch-processed alkaline cocoa here. As there’s baking powder involved, using cacao won’t give the same results (at all!).
In terms of brands, our favorite will forever be Valrhona, known to be one of (if not the) best cocoas in the world.
Gluten Free, Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake
Incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey, this is the ultimate gluten free, paleo and keto chocolate cake. Layer it up with sugar-free buttercream frosting, or simply do it sheet pan style with ganache (or ice cream!).
Oh, and if baking with cups rather than grams is your thing, just click on US Cups for an instant conversion.
- 48 g almond flour
- 30 g golden flaxseed meal finely ground
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 70 g unsalted grass-fed butter or 4 TBS coconut oil + 1 TBS coconut cream
- 1/3-1/2 cup xylitol *or coconut sugar if paleo (we use 1/3 cup)
- 40 g cocoa powder **
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee (optional)
- 2 eggs at room temperature***
For the frosting (not paleo)
For the chocolate cake
Each batch of cake is good for one 8-inch layer of cake. If you're building a two-layer cake adjust serving size to 12 and for three layers to 18. You guys will essentially be following our super easy brownie methodology (see video for reference). The ratios are a little different though, and there is some added flax for a more crumb-like texture.
Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 350°F/180°C. Grease, dust with cocoa powder, and line an 8-inch cake pan, set aside.
Add almond flour, flaxseed meal and baking powder to a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined, set aside.
Add butter (or coconut oil and cream), sweetener, cocoa powder, salt and espresso powder (optional) to a large heatproof bowl. Melt over a water bath whisking constantly (or use the microwave). You'll want to heat it up until most of the sweetener has melted and the mixture is well incorporated. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Add one egg at a time, whisking well after each one until completely incorporated. The texture should appear smooth, with all the sweetener dissolving into the mixture. If you used coconut oil, you want to be sure to mix it particularly well. Add the flour mixture, whisking vigorously until fully blended (about a minute). Pour into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 15-19 minutes, or until set and a toothpick inserted comes out just clean. Check often after minute 15 to ensure your cake doesn't dry out. UPDATE: A reader reported back on hers baking faster, so check in on minute 11-13 for doneness. And if you're baking cupcakes, you'll want to do 8-13 minutes (I do 8 to keep them fudgy, just note the center collapses a bit!).
Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the cake pan, before transferring to a rack. It'll be particularly fragile right out of the oven if you made it with xylitol, so you need to let it set.
If you're building a layer cake, you'll want to chill the layers (well wrapped) once they've come to room temp. Because of this, I always bake the layers the day before, chill overnight, and make the frosting and layer up the cake the-day-of.
For the cream cheese buttercream frosting (not paleo)
1 batch of frosting makes enough for a three-layer cake.
Add the butter, cream cheese and sweetener to a large bowl. Cream the mixture with your stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or with an electric mixer) until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. You'll want to scrape the bowl every so often to ensure an even mixture. Add cocoa powder to taste, espresso powder and salt and continue to beat until fully incorporated.
Piping the frosting between the layers (no tip needed), ensures the most even distribution of frosting. And you could even do it with a ziplock bag!
The cake keeps well, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for about 3 days. And it also freezes beautifully, just thaw it out in the fridge overnight.
*Please see section on sweeteners for deets and possible substitutions. Just keep in mind that stevia doesn't work (at all!) for these!
**If measuring the cocoa with tablespoons rather than grams, be mindful of how you scoop as you can end up with a lot more cocoa powder than needed. Drop the cocoa powder into the tablespoon and level it, rather than scooping it out of the bag with the tablespoon (which can lead to overpacked tablespoons!).
***Must use eggs at room temp. Reason being that if you add cold eggs, you'll solidify the batter and won't be able to mix the flours properly.
Please note that nutrition facts were calculated per slice (1/6th of a layer), which is the equivalent of 1 muffin.