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Eat Well Jul. 12. 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting

Jul. 12. 2013
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN


A healthy, paleo chocolate cake and frosting; it exists.

You can have your cake and eat it too. This Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting is low calorie, low carbohydrate, high fiber, and high protein. Coconut flour is the star ingredient that allows all this goodness to happen. Then… Chocolate. Mousse. Frosting. Three words that individually stand their own ground, but when put the two together you get a total flavor party in your mouth!

As with my Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse, I’m bringing the avocado back into action with it’s perfectly creamy and thick texture. The avocado mousse means you don’t have to use any dairy, processed sugar, or hydrogenated oils as with most frostings. This mousse is also great for simply dipping fresh fruit into (try strawberries, pears, apples, plums, etc.). This cake is also perfect for my paleo friends! Yes, a delicious paleo chocolate cake does exist.

I tested this recipe out using many variations. Trust me it was challenging work eating all of these delicious chocolate cake recipe successes and failures…such a hard job (wink, wink). I use the term “failures” in the kitchen with a grain of salt, because nothing is ever a failure, I’m continually learning new ways to develop recipes and combinations of flavors, therefore a more suitable term would be learning lessons. So next time you’re in the kitchen and you have a “failure”, back yourself up with positivity and say “no, this was just a learning lesson”, and keep the good cooking/baking vibes rolling 😉

Vegan friends, I have not tried this recipe without using eggs. You can try this recipe using “flax eggs” (see recipe here for it) or an egg replacement, but the egg whites and whole egg in this recipe allow the cake to become very fluffy in texture and rise well. You may or may not have the same success in a vegan cake. If you experiment this way, please comment below and let me and your fellow friends know!

This cake is light, airy, and spongey in texture. It also is slightly sweet and not overpowering. I prefer the cake to be a little less sweet, that way when you top the cake with a rich Chocolate Mousse Frosting or pair it with BananNO Cream. Either way, you will have a perfectly balanced combination. If you want to make this cake sweeter, try adding in more soaked and pureed dates, honey, or other natural sweeteners. Coconut flour is a popular baking ingredient of my choice, as seen in my Coconut Flour Crepe-cakes, and Grain-free Banana Bread. You can pair this Chocolate Coconut Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting with your favorite ice cream of choice, fresh fruit, or double frosting which is what I love to do!




What’s your favorite type of frosting on chocolate cake? If you try this recipe out vegan, please comment below I’d love to hear your experiences trying this one out!

Happy cake making!

xo McKel

The Recipe

Serves 4



For the cake:

3/4 – 1 cup vanilla almond milk 

4 organic egg whites

1 organic egg, whole

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder

1/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup of coconut flour

2 tablespoon cold espresso (or cold coffee from the morning)

6 pitted dates, soaked and chopped (sugar free version- see note)

1 tablespoon flax seed, ground

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

2 avocados, pitted

50g of dark chocolate (about ½-1 bar)

4 pitted dates

2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder

1 tablespoon espresso (or cold brewed coffee), optional

1 tablespoon coconut oil 

½ teaspoon vanilla 

almond milk to thin (if needed)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a round baking pan (8-9 in)

If using dates, soak until softened and puree with almond milk so you don’t have large chunks. If not using dates, skip this step.

Combine all the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl (eggs, almond milk, vanilla, coffee, dates) and whisk until combined or use a mixer.

Pour in dry ingredients (all remaining ingredients), and stir until well combined.

NOTE: with coconut flour, the batter may initially look and feel like it’s very thin and watery. This will change as the coconut flour starts to absorb the moisture. The overall batter will be thinner than a standard cake batter which is desired. When baking it will come together.

Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven settings), or until you can stick a knife/toothpick into the center and it comes out clean.

Let sit and cool for about 10-20 minutes.

While cooling, make the frosting by blending until smooth.

Once cool, frost with Chocolate Mousse Frosting and enjoy!


Can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

You can easily make 2 batches of this recipe to “stack” the two layers on top of each other to achieve a higher cake. One recipe yields a cake layer (if using a round pan) of about 1 inch in height; if using a bread loaf pan it yields about 1 1/2 inches in height.


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Did you try it out?

Share Your Thoughts & Images

  • I’m going to try a vegan version- I’ll let you know!

  • Monica

    Hi, instead of dates, what else can I use? Not a dates fan 🙁

    • Hi Monica, great question. The dates provide a thick and sweet texture and you won’t be able to taste them. You could try prunes as they have similar textures and add stevia or honey to sweeten more, or simply use honey but you will not have the same texture. Best to you and let me know what you try! 🙂

  • jo

    I want to try this recipe. But I don’t take coffee. Caffeine causes vertigo for me. What can I substitute with?
    Thanks lots

    • Simply take out the coffee as this is optional- it’s to enhance the chocolate flavor. 🙂

      • jo

        Thanks for your reply. Going to try this recipe this week 🙂

  • kirsten

    Looks amazing but I am allergic to avocado….any suggestions for the icing?

    • Hi Kirsten, the avocado gives it a nice fluffy and mousse like frosting. Your next best option would be banana with a little coconut oil blended. If you’re allergic to avocados thought, chances are you may be allergic to bananas. In this case, I would use blueberries + raw cocoa powder heated up on the stove and you can create a nice chocolate sauce. Hope that works, let me know how it goes!

  • Rebecca

    Did you end up trying this vegan? I want to make this tomorrow for my baby’s first birthday, but would like to know what successful egg substitute (and other modifications) you used! Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Rebecca! This is a vegetarian cake, not vegan- the eggs are needed to make it light and fluffy. I haven’t tried it with any egg replacers as the texture would be different. Good news is, I’m developing one now for the next month to share but not in time for your previous baby’s birthday! Best to you 🙂

  • suzanne

    can you freeze the frosting????

    • Hi Suzanne, I haven’t tried freezing this, but keeping it cool in the fridge is best and to use it within 3-5 days!

  • Can the almond flour be substituted with something???

    • You may use all coconut flour- but you will have to pay close attention to the liquid used as it may need more. Almond flour gives it a nice density and moisture to it.

  • Molly

    Hello! Does 3/4 – 1 cup almond milk mean 3/4 of a cup or one AND 3/4 cup? Making into cupcakes for a birthday party! Can’t wait 🙂

    • Hi Molly,
      3/4- 1 cup means 3/4ths cup to 1 cup (there is a note stating you can add more liquid or less to make the texture of your cake as you need it). 1 3/4 cup would mean 1 cup + 3/4ths cup. 😉 Hope you love it!

  • Anna

    This recipe sounds amazing!! I was wondering if I can substitute the flaxseeds for hemp seeds? What do you think?

    Thank you! And merry christmas!

    • Hi Anna,
      Good question! No that wouldn’t be a good replacement- better would be chia seeds. Flax seeds are used for a binding agent to make the cake doughy and bound together. Hemp seeds don’t have the same properties. Hope you enjoy!

  • Kathy

    I made this cake for a Christmas dinner group and it was a HUGE success. It’s a group that is traditional and they love their stuffing and gravy. It was a little risky to offer them a ‘healthy’ option for dessert – but out of 10 guests only 2 of them chose pumpkin pie over this!! And everyone wanted the recipe. So this is a keeper for sure. I baked the recipe as stated without changes and offered the options of coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream and TruWhip topping. Soooooo good. Thank you SO SO much for sharing this.

    • Hi Kathy,
      That’s so wonderful! I’m glad you and your family enjoyed the cake! Thank you so much for sharing and hope to see you back here soon 🙂

  • Sydney

    Do you use medjool dates? Just wondering as the medjool dates I have are much bigger than another brand that I have (Sunsweet I think?) and I figured that would affect the taste… thanks!

    • Hi Sydney,
      Yes I use medjool or whatever I have on hand. Dates should relatively be the same size, always use your tastebuds versus numbers- if it tastes good, you’re golden! 😉

  • Daniela

    It has passed merely half an houl and I’m already enloved with your site and all your tasty anf healthy recipes. I can’t wait to cook some…Look forward dicovering all of them 🙂

  • Becky

    Thank you for your dedication to healthy life. love your site. I tried this cake for my niece who eats healthy :). It was a hit for her 13th birthday . changes I made :#1. chia seeds since I was out of flax. soaked them with dates in almond milk 30 mins and blended it all together. #2 Decided to try sweet potato flour instead of cocoa for a whitish cake instead of chocolate. kept same amount of almond and coconut flour . #3 whipped the egg whites and folded them in after mixing wet with dry .
    Used whipped coconut cream for frosting(thank you for that )
    So it was fairly different from what you set out with , but your basic structure was the guide. AND IT WAS GREAT !.

    • Hi Becky,
      I’m glad you tried it and enjoyed the recipe! It sounds like you had fun with experimenting with it 🙂

  • Alyson

    Hi! I just made your frosting to go on my son’s preschool cupcakes. And we taste tested while making too… Yummy! Quick question: they are in the fridge in a sealed Tupperware and going out tomorrow, does the avocado turn rusty or with this recipe or will they be fine until tomorrow? I’m sure he will be extremely disappointed if we have to eat all twelve tonight 😉



    • Hi Alyson,
      Wonderful! Normally avocados will turn brown when their oxidizing- no worries here as they’re already brown! I hope you enjoy them (sounds like you all are!)

  • Cat

    Can I use the whole egg instead of egg whites?

    • I haven’t used whole eggs for this- you can try but it will be a different recipe, enjoy!

  • julie

    Hi there – you said in a comment from November last year that you would be putting together a version of this cake without eggs included? Am so keen to try this cake but can’t find the eggless option on the website?
    Do you think replacing the eggs with bananas would work? And some baking powder? Thanks in advance – it looks scrumptious

    • Hi Julie,
      I do not have a cake that’s vegan on my website yet. I’m sure there are other great ones out there now, you can try using bananas, but I don’t think that would work well- the eggs give it a fluffy texture

  • Anna

    Wow, I am definitely going to try this! A couple questions thou:
    -Did you use up an entire batch of the frosting on this cake? I was thinking of just making a half batch of that.
    -Did you use sweetened or unsweetened vanilla almond milk?

    I just wish I had picked up an avocado at the farmers market this week! One of the great things about living in Miami is getting fresh local avocados 🙂

    • Hi Anna,
      Great questions- I use the entire frosting batch for this recipe- you may have extra depending on the size of avocados used. You can use either sweetened or unsweetened, I always used unsweetened almond milks. Hope you enjoy this!

      • Anna

        Thanks for getting back to me; I’m very excited to try this recipe! I just realized that you live in Nashville. I grew up there and lived there for a few years after college as well! I’m actually going back in a couple weeks to visit my family. I hope the weather warms up a bit for my visit!

  • Sharon

    In the frosting recipe..do you melt the dark chocolate first or just chop it up and blend with the rest of the ingredients? I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Ln p

    Hi, i am so excited to try his recipe! If i wanted to cut the recipe in half, would i use 1 egg + 1 egg white? Im getting confused with the math. Thank you so much!

    • Thank you, hope you enjoy! If you use half the recipe, simply divide everything in half 🙂

  • Ln p

    Also – can i grind up almonds in my vitamix to make almond flour? Thanks!

    • Blending almonds will create almond meal which is different than almond flour. Almond flour is lighter and made from blanched almonds 🙂

  • Ln p

    Just wanted to let everyone know i tried a vegan version ( 1 tbsp ground flax in 3 tbsp water per egg) and it didnt work. The middle sank and the inside was all gooey. I still ate it because it was delicious though :). I also made the regular one with eggs.. So fluffy and tasted good. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Lauri

    I have recently had to go on a very strict diet because of health issues and coconut flour has become s staple of my diet. I have been making and decorating special occasion cakes for several years using sugar art and fondants. I have been looking for a recipe that I can use to make my sons birthday cake next month that I can also eat…..nothing worse than baking something you can eat! I am dying to try this out and see how we like it before I launch into making the b-day cake for a very important 18th birthday!

    • Hi Lauri, I’m so glad you enjoy this recipe and glad you can make it a part of your birthday celebrations! I also have another birthday cake called “fruit-fetti birthday cake which is all gluten free and using the same type of ingredients as this cake! xx McKel

      • Lauri

        Hello McKel,
        I am still trying to find chocolate that I can use. I cant use regular chocolate because of the caffeine content. I am not allowed any caffeine at all. Carob is a good substitute because it does not contain caffeine. I have gotten the chips but my local natures grocers is out, hopefully be on their delivery truck tomorrow so I can get it in the next few days. I have been very ill for several months and could not get up and around long enough to play with cake, which is not just a passion, it is an obsession! I am in strong caking withdrawals! :). I am thrilled to find recipes that I can use with the very strict diet I am currently on. I can only eat so many cucumbers and avocado………mind you I like them but I need some variety. I am enjoying you’re site very much! I’ll shoot you some pics of the cake when its done and thank you again for sharing your knowledge with all of us! (((((hugs)))))

  • Cille

    Hallo, I was just wondering, is it 140 calories for 1/4 of the whole cake?:-D

  • Kate

    Do you think a food processor could be used instead of a Vitamix or a Blendtec? I don’t either but would really like to give this recipe a shot this weekend! Thanks!

  • Denise

    I made this cake but I used coconut milk instead of almond milk. The cake tasted better after being refrigerated but it didn’t have the chocolate-y flavour I was expecting. The frosting tasted way better. I pureed an avocado with dates, cocoa powder and vanilla extract. But, for being a healthy cake it is quite good.

    • Yes, it’s a “healthy” cake, so it strays from traditional high fat/high sugar cakes. If you’re looking for something more dense and rich you should try my Blackberry Flourless chocolate cake! You’d love it : )

  • I made your delicious cake & found it to be fabulous! I just discovered your blog a little while ago & I already made a lot of recipes! You rock! 🙂

  • Carolyn

    Have you tried a vegan version of the cake? I have coconut flour, but I am not sure how I can use it without eggs!

    • No, eggs are needed for this one although I’ve had other readers try it out and it turned out okay!

  • stephanie

    what can you substitute for advocados in the frosting? I want to make today, but don’t have ripe advcados?

  • Mari

    This looks amazing! Is there any way I could make the frosting without avocados? I am allergic to them 🙁

    thanks! Your recipes are always beautiful and delicious

    – Mari

    • Hi Mari! Thanks for stopping by- if you’re allergic to avocados, I would simply try mixing coconut oil (melted) with cocoa powder and maple syrup- this will make a paste, but will harden when cooled- like a “magic shell”. It’ll be delicious!

  • Joy

    Hi i was wondering if i could use whole eggs rather than 4 egg whites and one whole egg. if so how many whole eggs would i use. It seems a shame to waste the yolks of 4 eggs

    • egg whites give it a nice fluffy texture like a sponge cake, if you were to add in all whole eggs it would be more like a brownie or fudge cake AND far higher in calories. You don’t have to waste the yolks just save them for something else or add to an omelette, etc.

  • Anna

    hey, just wondering, does the nutritional information provided include the frosting? just because the 2 avocados alone would be quite high calorie

    Thanks, looks superrrrrb!

    • If you check out my FAQ page I have a how-to guide on calculating the calories- I don’t count them!

  • Gwyn

    I’ve been loving your site and recipes for quite a while, but haven’t posted before. I had to share on this one. I recently switched to a no sugar no grain diet which means I’m doing a LOT of experimenting of recipes. I was so excited to see this recipe…chocolate cravings never go away! I used 5 tablespoons of Yacon syrup instead of dates. I also left out the flax seed because my first attempt the cake came out very dense. AMAZING!!! Not sure how much you work with Yacon syrup, but I love that it has more of that nutty molasses flavor vs. the bitterness of stevia and it’s right next to stevia on the glycemic index. It also worked great in the mousse! Thank you for helping satisfy the chocolate crave!!

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts Gwyn! I actually haven’t worked too much with Yacon syrup, I like using maple syrup or honey mostly- thanks for sharing that I’ll give it a go! 🙂

  • Becky

    Is there any way I can add protein powder to this recipe to increase the protein? I’m thinking vanilla or chocolate whey powder??

    • McKel Hill

      The protein is actually very high in this cake, I wouldn’t recommend adding any more 😉

      • Becky

        Ok thanks for your advice! Can’t wait to make this tomorrow!

      • Becky

        Sorry just another quick question. We can’t get vanilla almond milk where I live so am I ok using ordinary almond milk? Or shall I add something extra to make up for the flavour?

        • McKel Hill

          Yes, you can use plain almond milk with a small splash of vanilla extract 🙂

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