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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.

312 comments

  1. Disunflower says:

    Great Cake. I’ve tried keto cakes and this recipe is the best I’ve come across. I love the variety of options to make it for keto, paleo and gluten free. I drizzled a chocolate sauce I made with my own sugar free chocolate to make it paleo and it was amazing! However your frosting is the bomb too! Great Job and Than You!

  2. Susan says:

    I used the link you posted for the Valrhona cocoa and bought it without paying attention. When I got the cocoa, it’s not cocoa at all but cacao. I’ve made this recipe before using cacao, and it was still really good. I was hoping to try cocoa being that you said it’s better to use. Oh well, I know this cake is awesome so I’m not worried, but would have loved to try the cocoa version and this stuff isn’t cheap!

  3. Vivianne says:

    I tried doubling the recipe and it fit in a 6inch pan, however the cake is still wet after like half an hour of baking… Should I bake it longer or is it gonna just be a bust

    • Lisa says:

      No. Almond flour and coconut flour do not perform the same. Coconut flour is far more absorbent and would change the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients, making a dryer, denser product. I am certain you would not like the results of attempting a 1-to-1 substitution.

  4. Laya says:

    Hello! About to make this cake for an occasion two days in advance. I am wondering if it keeps well in a fridge?

    Thank You! Xoxo

  5. Des says:

    I made this today and it is great! It turned out to be a little densed and dry (I overbaked it) but still delicious! Will remake it again, thank you for this recipe! But before I remake it, ill ask this: when I melted the butter and then added the sweeteners (half xylitol half swerve) with the cocoa and all on the hot water bath, it wasn’t liquid and turned into a thick paste. I measured the ingredients accordingly to the recipe. Is there not enough butter or….? Hope to hear a reply so I can remake it!

  6. Natalie M says:

    Hi
    Question guys – can you sub the flaxseed for coconut flour? I have severe bloating with both flax and psyllium husk and need an alternative. Or should I use just almond flour? Thank you!

  7. Eliza says:

    I had an issue with my frosting… it’s didnt incorporate as well as it does in the picture…. could it be the butter or cream cheese weren’t warm enough (it’s very cold temperature wise right now)?

  8. Danielle Katherine says:

    Your website is fabulous! Thank you for sharing 😃 My birthday is on Saturday and we’re making this cake, the only thing is I am allergic to flaxseed! Can we sub for egg whites? Or any other suggestions?
    Xx
    D

  9. Malena says:

    BEST
    CAKE
    EVER

    thank you so much for this recipe, it was my first attemp at baking with xylitol so I didn’t know if i was doing things right hahah I read some comments about putting xylitol in the blender for the batter and that really helped
    I will definitely try other recipes on the web, thank you again!

  10. Kristen says:

    Fantastic recipe! I made this for my birthday, and it was wonderful. I did sub half the almond flour for walnut flour, increased the baking powder slightly, used half dark and half regular cocoa, and I used a mix of Swerve, Lakanto, and xylitol. Definitely the closest thing to regular cake I’ve had yet! This will definitely be made again 🙂 Thank you!

  11. Emily says:

    I put this into myfitness pal and the cals, carbs, and everything are way higher than listed here. Is there a reason for that? it is a 1 slice serving of 6 slices right?

  12. Lissi says:

    I am definitely going to play around with this recipe! I wonder what it would taste like with mayo in it…

    Any tips on how to make this a red velvet cake? Perhaps some apple cider vinegar and Red Velvet emulsion? I’m afraid to attempt that experiment on my first go of making this cake. My husband is all about red velvet and hates chocolate… Sometimes I wonder what I got myself into when I married him lol

    • Tia says:

      You can use beet juice for coloring instead of artificial red color—SO much better for you and does not taste weird or like beets! May need to use the juice and balance out for the liquid usage in the recipe. My daughter used beet juice for another recipe in the past—love it!

  13. johanna d campbell says:

    I recently celebrated my bday and wanted a cake!

    I made this as 2 layers (double recipe) in a 7 inch pan. I definitely overbaked it, I should have taken it out a tad wet… still pretty tasty!

    for the sugar I used half lakanto and half allulose (keto genie brand that has stevia and monk fruit in it in it and measures cup for cup like sugar) I used cheap aldi cocoa powder.

    the frosting I used powdered lakanto and a lesser amount of the keto genie allulose (I added to taste.) and half hersheys dark cocoa powder and half cheap aldi cocoa powder.

    This cake is super delicious even though I over baked it. I plan on freezing as individually wrapped slices so I can enjoy a treat when I am at family bday parties and such.

    My 13 yo daughter who eats regular foods loved it too! said the frosting tasted like brownie batter!

  14. I was wondering if adding a little apple cider vinegar and baking soda would improve the rise a little. I do a lot of rice for based gluten free baking, and that seems to really help.

      • Paola van der Hulst says:

        I need more details to diagnose a problem guys. I think by now we’ve all seen enough baking shows to realize things go wrong ALL the time when it comes to baking if a detail is missed . 😉

  15. Carly says:

    It wa define I guess but definitely not sweet enough. I used a heaping 1/3 cup of sweetener and it was still quite bitter. But I didn’t realize the gross flour so I guess that’s good. It was a little dense but overall it was pretty good except for the bitterness.

  16. Claudia says:

    I’m new to keto. Began this October. Meals are no problem to make, I love to cook! I really really miss dessert 😣. I made this cake (2 layers) this week to bring to work for a holiday party. It was absolutely incredible! So delicious, the cake & the icing. It was a big hit at work. I’ll definitely be making it again! Thank you Paola for sharing your recipes!

  17. Jamie says:

    This cake was amazing. I bought Callebaut brut Belgium cocoa powder and it was fabulous. Make sure to not over cook the cake or it dries so fast. Even slightly on the dry side it was the best keto cake we’ve ever had. No one could tell it was sugar/flour free.

  18. Fayrooz says:

    Paola,
    If I want to make plain butter cream frosting, can I just omit the cream cheese from the recipe or does it change the measurements in the frosting recipe?

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