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The Ultimate Chocolate Cake 🍫 gluten free, paleo & keto

Incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey, this is the ultimate paleo and keto chocolate cake. Whether you layer it up with our sugar-free buttercream frosting or simply do it sheet pan style with ganache, its bound to please the entire crowd!

Note: this recipe post was first published on June 24th 2018, and has since been updated (slightly!) to yield a muuuch more moist crumb

Tiered keto chocolate cake with buttercream frosting
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

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!

Oh! And yes, you can totally whip up some keto chocolate cupcakes with this recipe too!

Cream cheese chocolate buttercream frosting piped as flowers
Gluten Free & Keto Chocolate Cupcakes

The Method

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 flaxseed and coconut flour 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.

Three layers of paleo & keto chocolate cake on a wire rack
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
A bowl of keto chocolate buttercream frosting with a spatula
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
Closeup of chocolate buttercream flowers on a keto chocolate cake
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

The Sweetener

You’ve got plenty of options for this stellar chocolate cake, but do know that they’ll affect the texture quite a bit. Think xylitol and allulose (no aftertaste, softer and fluffier texture), Lakanto (barely any aftertaste, denser texture).

And do note that xylitol and allulose take (much) longer to dry out though so your cake will be extra delicate right after baking. So allow it to cool in the pan for about 30 mins.

Fun fact: it might also be my taste buds here, but I’ve noticed that stevia-based sweeteners (such as Pyure) don’t work so great when chocolate is involved as the aftertaste is accentuated. So I 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.

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! 🐕

Closeup of chocolate buttercream flowers on a keto chocolate cake
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

The Flours

To turn chocolate cupcakes keto you’ll need some super fine almond flour (Anthony’s is my favorite!),golden flaxseed meal (make sure it’s golden!)*, coconut flour (again Anthony’s by a mile!),and a touch of xanthan gum.

*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, my favorite will forever be Valrhona, known to be one of (if not the) best cocoas in the world. That said, as long as it reads cocoa and not cacao you’ll be good to go!

Sliced paleo & keto chocolate cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
Taking a bite of a keto chocolate cake slice with a fork
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
Overhead shot of sliced keto chocolate cake with flower buttercream frosting details
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)
A slice of a layered keto chocolate cake
Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake (With Buttercream Frosting!)

Sliced paleo & keto chocolate cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting

(The Ultimate!) Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, European
Keyword: gluten free chocolate cake, keto chocolate cake, paleo chocolate cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 slices
Calories: 196 kcal

Incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey, this is the ultimate paleo and keto chocolate cake (with cream cheese buttercream frosting!).

Oh, and if baking with cups rather than grams is your thing, just click on US Cups for an instant conversion.

Print

Ingredients

For the frosting (not paleo)

Instructions

For the chocolate cake

  1. Each batch of cake is good for one 8-inch layer of cake (or 6 cupcakes). 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 flaxseed and coconut flour for a solid crumb.

  2. 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. 

  3. Add almond flour, flaxseed meal, coconut flour, baking powder and xanthan gum to a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined, set aside. 

  4. Add butter, heavy cream (or coconut oil and cream), cocoa powder, salt and espresso powder (optional) to a large heatproof bowl. Melt over a water bath whisking constantly (or use the microwave in small bursts). Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. 

  5. Add in the sweetener and one egg at a time, whisking well after each one until completely incorporated. The texture should appear smooth and thick, with all the sweetener dissolving into the mixture (if using erythritol, some granules may remain). Add the flour mixture, whisking vigorously until fully blended (about a minute). Pour batter into prepared pan.

  6. 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, and always keep in mind, however, that your cake will continue to cook while cooling! 

  7. 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 or allulose, so you need to let it set. 

  8. 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. One batch of frosting is enough for roughly two layers (or 12 cupcakes!).

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*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 cupcake. 

Nutrition Facts
(The Ultimate!) Paleo & Keto Chocolate Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 196 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Cholesterol 80mg27%
Sodium 203mg8%
Potassium 162mg5%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 0.5g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 375IU8%
Calcium 60mg6%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

304 comments

  1. Uzomaka says:

    Hi there, I have been successfully making delicious meals from your recipes, and this one is definitely something I looks forward to, the one key thing I do not understand is your instructions on building multiple layers, you say if it is a two layer cake adjust the serving size to 12. does that mean I should multiply all the ingredients by 12? to make the two layer, and multiply all the listed ingredients by 18 for a three layer? for example one of the ingredients for a ONE layer of cake calls for 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and from what I understand, to make two layers of cake I should multiply the teaspoon by 12 for 12 teaspoons of baking powder.

    I am sure that is not what you mean so please when you can kindly pretty please explain how the math works for multiple layers of cake, I would very much appreciate.

    • Paola says:

      Hi Uzomaka! THat’s awesome to hear! Regarding your question, what I’m talking about adjusting the number of servings is in the recipe card itself (so you change the number to 12 for 2 layers and 18 for 3 layers). This will simply multiply the ingredients by 2 or by 3.

      So using your example of the baking powder, you’ll see it will change it to 2tsp when you change number of servings to 12 and 3tsp when at 18 xo!

  2. Maz says:

    I’m planning to make this cake but a little confused as to how many layers the ingredients listed will make. I’d like to make 2 or 3.
    Please advise??
    Many thanks

  3. Lori says:

    This recipe is to die for! I’ve made this recipe three times . I make the cupcakes because of portion control . Instead of liners I just spray the muffin tin, let them cool, then turn upside down and they pop right out . This recipe is definitely a keeper!

    • April Malone says:

      I’m new to this, do you add the frosting to your cupcakes and how much to each one. Also what are the macros of the cupcake and frosting combined. Thank you so much for your help.

  4. Cakemix says:

    I made this today, and it is delicious! You do need to make multiple layers if you want a traditional cake look, but I made it in a square pan (one layer) and it definitely satisfies my sweet tooth. TY!

      • Paola says:

        I’m sorry Alba I don’t understand? Are you referring to your question about the apricot jam? In all honesty I’m not sure, the cake is a bit fragile- but it could actually work? Maybe worth a shot with one layer first? xo!

        • Alba says:

          Hi! Yeah, you know black forest cake, chocolate layers saturated with kisch and with cherry jam in between, and with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and preserved cherries on the outside! Sooooo yummy… Maybe I’ll bake the cake for a bit longer, to dry them a little so they won’t turn to mush with the liquor and Jam.😁

          I’ll share my findings in my birthday, wish me luck!

  5. Alba says:

    Oh wow this looks sooooo good! My favorite cake ever is black forest, I think this recipe would be a good start; do you think It could work with some substitutions? Would saturate the cake with apricot liquor or Jam render It todo fragile? I’m eager yo experiment now!

    Thanks so much for the wonderfull recipe and all your hard work!

    • Paola says:

      Yes and no! I like my chocolate cakes a bit on the denser and fudgier side, so if you use a stand/hand mixer you would be incorporating a bit too much air when you add in the eggs. Cake does rise a bit more, but texture was not the best in my opinion (you would actually reduce baking time). It’s also more cleanup, so in my opinion don’t quite need to here 😉

  6. jade says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It is the first successful low carb cake recipe that tastes as good as it looks! Thank you! Thank you!

  7. Hanne Pelletier says:

    This is absolutely the most amazing keto chocolate cake I have ever had. It could possibly be one of the best chocolate cakes, period. It took me three tries to make it right though. The first time I tried the microwave method and the chocolate turned into a big mess. The second time I used a tiny bit smaller pan and cooked a bit longer and it came out very fudge like and less cake like. We ate every bit anyway because it was delicious. I was determined to get this right. I made this again yesterday and it was perfect. My (very unhealthy, skeptical) family ate it and commented how great it was. They were surprised when I told them it was healthy! Thank you Paola. You are amazing! Please keep them coming. Everything of yours I have made has been top notch and favorite recipes to date. Your tortillas are a staple in our house on a weekly basis!
    PS My anniversary is coming up and I sure would love a carrot cake recipe for our traditional anniversary carrot cake dessert. <3

  8. Kaya says:

    I plan on making a 2 layer sheet cake for my husband’s birthday. The cake pan is 12×18. Do you have any idea on how many batches I would need to make?
    This looks SOOOO good! I can’t WAIT to try it!

    • Paola says:

      You did nothing wrong Sherrelann, as stated in the post this is meant to emulate the intensely chocolatey Italian almond cakes. And I think it also comes through in the picture that the cake is not fluffy, but rich and chocolatey 😉 xo!

      • Treyson says:

        I made it with Sucralose last night. It seems to have turned out alright. I haven’t tasted the actual cake yet, but the frosting was delicious when I licked it off the spoon lol

  9. Kim says:

    I can’t wait for the weekend to make this. I am going to make one batch of cupcakes. Do I need a whole batch of the frosting, or should I half it?

    Your cake decorating and photography are beautiful!!

      • Kim says:

        Great idea!
        I made the cupcakes and they are amazing!! The frosting is to die for too! I did bake mine a tad too long despite your detailed directions…lol! My toothpick was coming out soupy, but I should’ve just taken them out. But they are still wonderful. I bake less nest time. 🙂

  10. B says:

    This cake was delicious. Another hit, thank you.

    I checked my cake at 15 minutes and it was definitely done and a little dry. I would have pulled it out earlier, so maybe check it at 12-13 min.

    I did 10 T of allulose for the cake at 3 T of cocao for the frosting (because the cake is very chocolatey).

    • Paola says:

      Hi B! So happy you liked it! And thanks so much for reporting back on your baking time, I’ve added a note to the recipe 🙂 xo!

  11. Nikko says:

    I’m looking forward to trying this with a Baileys Ganache. My sisters birthday is coming up and that wold be a tasty treat. Btw, you are named after one of my favorite Greek singers, cheers.

  12. Linda Sue says:

    I made this tasty cake, it was rich and scrumptious! I had left over frosting, it was so good I didn’t want to throw it away, so I saved it in a container in the refrigerator. The next day, I took a scoop of the frosting and blended it with my coffee. It was a delicious satisfying breakfast!

  13. Kimberly C says:

    This looks soooo good. I am planning to make cupcakes this weekend. Question on the frosting- in your original buttercream frosting recipe you use Swerve. I am planning to just do a buttercream frosting without the chocolate. Do you prefer swerve or xylitol for the plain buttercream frosting?

    • Paola says:

      Hi Kimberly! I’ve been getting a stronger cooling sensation from erythritol lately so I’ve switched to xylitol (or reducing the erythritol and adding some monk fruit). If you’re cool with Swerve go for it! Taste buds and sweeteners are super personal 😉

  14. Lessa Lamb says:

    Questions:
    1. Could you powder (blend until dust) coconut sugar and use it instead for the frosting?
    2. I’m allergic to almonds, and many Paleo and keto things heavy on nuts really don’t work for me. If nut flours are out, what’s your second best choice?
    3. Flavor-wise, what’s the best cream cheese alternative for the frosting?

  15. Amelia says:

    I couldn’t resist and made a batch of cupcakes to take the recipe on a test drive and WOW! These are actually some of the best chocolate cupcakes, keto or not, I’ve had in my life! WOW WOW WOW!! I baked them for 12 minutes, and I was even surprised that they had a decent rise compared to other keto muffins etc I’ve made. It’s also the first recipe I’ve tried from your blog and surely eh first one of many!

  16. Pea Green says:

    Wow Paola! This looks G O O D !! Would cacao powder be an acceptable swap, or does it have different density? Thank you for all your wonderful recipes to help us all on our keto way :-)) x x

    • Paola says:

      So happy to hear you’re enjoying Pea! On your question, you actually do need cocoa as baking powder is involved.xo!

  17. Donna says:

    I never comment…just ‘lust’ over your keto offerings….but THIS…THIS…literally ‘takes the cake’!! Simply STUNNING. Your talent (and generosity in sharing it) overwhelms. Thank you so much for taking any notions of ‘deprivation’ out of Keto…You rock.

    • Paola says:

      Hi Jani! You can play around with time a bit more with muffins (I love them super fudgy!). Bake for 10-13 min if you like them extra fudgy (they’ll be set, but still jiggly and they’ll collapse lightly in the center while cooling). And for a more ‘normal muffin/cupcake’ 13-15 min. Varies a little from oven to oven, but these are good guidelines. xo!

  18. Stace K. Morgan says:

    Happy birthday Paola! What a gorgeous cake lady! Thank you for developing such great recipes that are more often than not even better than the original 🙂

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