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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

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.
4.93 from 81 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings 6 slices
Calories 196 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the frosting (not paleo)

Instructions
 

For the chocolate cake

  • 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.
  • 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, coconut flour, baking powder and xanthan gum to a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined, set aside. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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! 
  • 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. 
  • 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)

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

Video

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

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 162mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 375IU | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1.8mg
Keyword gluten free chocolate cake, keto chocolate cake, paleo chocolate cake
Whip up this recipe?Comment below or drop me a line @gnomgnom._ and tag #gnomgnomyum!

371 comments

  1. Miah says:

    5 stars
    Could I use the batter for cupcakes? I have relatively low spoons (low energy) and find cupcakes much easier to make then layering a cake.

  2. Victoria H says:

    5 stars
    Can I use Swerve confectioner’s and Swerve granulated sweetener instead of xylitol? I have animals in my house so don’t keep xylitol here.

  3. Catherine D. says:

    What if I don’t have the type of cocoa you are suggesting just the regular cocoa powder is there a way to make this using that, would I need to add xanthan gum or is it only doable with that type of cocoa?

  4. Karen says:

    I see many videos with this recipe for everything but this cake. Is there any video that was made particularly for this cake and how would I access it?

  5. Sophie says:

    You say the xylitol must be powdered for the icing. For the actual cake, should it be powdered as well? Or granular?

    Also, is the icing recipe enough for just ONE round 8 in cake, vs a layered one?

    And finally, why do you add the flaxmeal?

    THANK YOU!

  6. Rose says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this post. I only had stevia based sweetener, however, I made veriations on this recipe without chocolate. The crumb is amazing. I made a coffee, lemon ginger, and red velvet cakes with the base recipe and they were fantastic!

  7. Britt berlin says:

    5 stars
    HOLY GUACAMOLE, this cake is legit!! I just made this for my friend’s birthday, as she is very strictly keto per the doctor’s guidance, and it was a HIT! 😀 Best cake ever, and everyone at the party had it, despite there being a second regular cake! Will be making this for all birthdays (including my own coming up in a few days haha!). Thank you so so much for this recipe! I did two layers, but definitely doing three next time! I also used an avocado mousse as the frosting and WOW! Thank you, thank you!

  8. Annie Justmann says:

    Hi,
    I’m looking forward to making this cake tomorrow for my boyfriends birthday. I’m a little confused with the Cocoa. I have a Hershey’s brand that says “Hershey’s Cocoa” but right underneath it says 100% Cacao. The ingredients read: “Cocoa: Cocoa Processed with Alkali”.
    What’s your advice?
    Also was considering making a Carmel sauce to add..let me know if you have any recipes.
    Thank you in advance!!!
    Annie

    • Paola says:

      Hi Annie! You’re good to go as it is alkali processed cocoa 😉 regarding the caramel sauce, I’m still working on one that’s good enough to share…

      Happy birthday to your bf! xo

  9. Renee says:

    I made this today for first time for my husbands birthday and didn’t want to kick us out of ketosis. It was wonderful but didn’t come out of the pan well and ended up breaking and coming out in pieces. Very sad! Did all directions exactly and used xylitol as sweetener. Did a double recipe for two 9inch pans and would change to a smaller plan in the future. How do you suggest I do it next time to ensure it coming out of the pan easier? I saw it said grease, dust with cocoa but didn’t know what line the pan meant. Maybe that was the problem.

    • Paola says:

      Hi Renee! I’m sorry it crumbled on you! In baking terms, lining the pan means cutting out (or purchasing) a circular piece of parchment to line the base of your cake pan to ensure the layers come out in one piece.

      And yup, for 9-inch I would do the equivalent of three 8-inch layers. Hope this helps! xo

  10. Jenn says:

    I made a double batch for a 2 layer cake. And they didnt rise at all. The dough wasn’t pourable either. Just wondering what I could have done wrong??

  11. Stephanie Reilly says:

    5 stars
    Wow. Easily my favorite Keto dessert I’ve ever made. For those of you debating whether or not to put the extra work in to make a 3 layer cake rather than 1, DO IT! I will make this cake for my families birthdays for the rest of our lives, and they won’t complain about it either!

  12. Nikko says:

    I didn’t have any flaxseed, so I tried tapioca flour instead. It turned out very well, can’t wait to make it again.

  13. Hailee says:

    5 stars
    Hi! I love your recipes and can’t wait for this one! My birthday is on Tuesday and I’m wanting to make a 2-later 9 inch cake. How much do you think the baking time would differ?

    Thank you!!

    • Paola says:

      That’s super awesome to hear Hailee! I would probably triple the recipe and divide the batter between the two 9-inch pans. Baking time in all honesty can vary a lot from oven to oven with this cake, but for instance in my oven it would likely be 5-8 mins more xo and happy birthday!!

  14. Sweta Santuka says:

    Hi Paola ,

    This looks heavenly and I am dying to try it .one question,can I use mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese.

    Thanks

  15. Glenda W. says:

    I need help. I need to make this cake in a 12×18 cake pan. How do I adjust the servings for a cake to fit in that size of pan?? I need it for a birthday party for about 20 people. I hope you can help. thank you

  16. Glenda W. says:

    Please someone help me…. How much of this do I need to make for a 12×18 cake pan?? For a birthday crowd. Thanks!

  17. Glenda W. says:

    I need to bake this for a crowd, using a 12″x18″ cake pan. Can you tell me how many servings I need to adjust this to for it to be enough for that size of pan? Thank you.

  18. Desiree says:

    Looking forward to trying this for my son’s birthday cake. I plan to cover it with modelling chocolate. Do you think I should add some tapioca to the cake mix perhaps (not concerned if non keto) to make it not so fudgey ?
    Thanks

    • Paola says:

      Definitely! You can prob sub 2TBS of the flax and 3-4TBS of the almond flour, but because I haven’t tried it myself I would suggest doing a test batch as it’s for a special occasion 😉 happy birthday to the little (or big?!) guy!

  19. Wendy Hooton says:

    5 stars
    My son requested this cake for his 21st bday. I made cupcakes which turned oit beautifil. The whole family has converted to keto here and we love it. Visiting relatives who eat sugar daily tried these and said thesee were really good. I feel I should have cooked a little less as you suggested because I think they were a bit dry. Otherwise everything else about this recipe tastes perfect. I made the cinnamon rolls 3 days ago. They were so good, only lasted 2 days! Love your recipes thank you for your creativity.

  20. Nancy says:

    5 stars
    Hi! Thanks for the recipe! I made this cake tonight and it was really delicious (I have to admit I was terrified to taste it even though the reviews were amazing). It tastes just like brownies, it was very dense and gooey. Question though, the numbers displayed in the recipe, does that include the cake and frosting? Or are the numbers just for the bare cake? When I say numbers I am talking about the nutrition chart.

  21. Rachelle Padgett says:

    Hi, just curious before I attempt this as I don’t want to waste any ingredients, what do you mean no cocao? I don’t have the same brand of coco powder you use, I know you highly recommend, but can I still use the coco powder (made from cocao) I have or will it not turn out? I also have the regular Hershey’s brand on hand. Thanks 🙂

    • Paola says:

      Cacao and cocoa are different ingredients (cacao is raw, cocoa is alkaline). You want to make sure you use a cocoa here (if your Hershey’s says cocoa you’re fine, if it says cacao it’s a no). xo!

      • Wanda says:

        Thanks Paola.
        I did not know the difference between CACAO and COCOA, interesting. Every day you learn something.
        My question is regarding Almond flour. I usually prepare it at home, can I use mine or should I buy the one that is already industrialized?

  22. Keena Woods says:

    5 stars
    Hi!! I made this cake today! The frosting tastes amazing! We havent had the cake yet,but Im so excited! My layers came out really thin–I did use a 9 inch cake pan but it looks like it didnt rise at all…Im not sure why. Was the xylitol for the cake supposed to be powdered or just as it comes in the bag? When I put everything in the hot bath the batter was kind of thick. I didnt need to pour it, but instead I had to spoon it into cake pans. lol! Also, wheb the recipe says 1-1.5 cups of xylitol is that for the level of sweetness that I want?What do you use? Let me know your thoughts!

  23. Maz says:

    Hi Paola,
    I’ve recently made this cake and I can’t believe how good it tastes and that it tastes as good as a usual chocolate cake if you know what I mean…the only thing is I gave my sister a piece and it kicked her out of ketosis…any reason why?
    I’m following a keto diet maybe not as strictly so I wouldn’t know if I was affected. Any suggestions as to why this happened? Thanks

    • Paola says:

      Hi Maz! Awesome you guys enjoyed it so much, but oh no on the ketosis issue! I don’t see how that could happen with the ingredients in the cake… but what sweetener did you guys use? Could it be that overall in that one meal too many carbs were consumed all at once?

      For instance, I do carb ups 1-4 times a week. But sometimes my carb-ups are simply more of higher carb keto foods? I’m fat adapted by now, so I’ll be out of ketosis for a few hours and back in by evening/next morning. I hope this helped, otherwise be sure that your sweetener is a pure sugar alcohol (no hidden maltodextrin etc). xo!

  24. Andrea says:

    I am trying to make this cake for the first time and used the microwave method first to melt the butter and incorporate the sweetener. It didn’t seem to work to melt the xylitol so I then switched to water bath and I now have a ball of sticky solids that will NOT incorporate at all into the melted butter! Help!!!

    • Paola says:

      Hi Andrea! Not all the sweetener dissolves into the butter, it’s just sort of shaggy (you can see it in the video). Once you whisk in the eggs it becomes smooth

  25. Livia Silva says:

    5 stars
    I absolutely love baking and honestly all keto cakes recipes I tried before were crap. This is an amazing chocolate cake independent of being keto or not!!! I may try to make a vanilla version of it.

    Just one question about the nutritional info. Does it include the frosting? I have a lot to lose so I’m watching my macros closely.

    Thank you! 😊

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