This rich chocolate cake is a true showstopper with its moist, fudgy layers and smooth 2-ingredient chocolate mousse. The flavor is unique and deeply chocolate. Whether you're hosting a special occasion or simply treating your family, this recipe is bound to impress.
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Originally published in 2013, the text and images in this post have been updated to serve you better. The recipe remains the same.
I'm not used to making vegan desserts; this chocolate cake was my first time experimenting with one.
I wanted to see what it was like compared to my usual chocolate cake and flourless chocolate torte. It's truly unique in texture and flavor.
It has none of the traditional ingredients we are used to finding in a cake, like butter, eggs, and milk.
A dairy-free, moist chocolate cake recipe that is utterly delicious, and a must-try for chocolate lovers, even if you don't follow a plant-based diet.
If you're not used to vegan baking like me, when you read the list of ingredients in this cake, it feels like some non-foodie editor forgot a part of the recipe.
Although it's common to replace butter with oil, the idea of replacing eggs with vinegar is mind-blowing. At least to me. Here they are omitted and not missed at all.
Use a clear shot of the ingredients for this recipe, prepped, and labeled if necessary. Insert the ingredients into the list below, omitting quantities.
- Chocolate: use your favorite dark semisweet chocolate for this recipe. I like Callebaut 54% chocolate wafers or Ghirardelli Premium baking bar.
- Cocoa powder: always use unsweetened. I like Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli Premium baking cocoa, and Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder. And, in my experience, the dark ones are the best (this does not apply to the super dark used for making homemade Oreo cookies known as dark cocoa powder).
- Vegetable oil: sunflower, coconut, canola.
- Vegetable milk: soy milk and almond milk work very well.
- All-purpose flour.
- White, granulated sugar.
- Baking powder and baking soda: make sure they aren't expired.
- Vinegar: white is the most neutral, but I've used red wine and apple cider vinegar for this cake with great results.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- Strawberries: fresh are always the first choice, but a vegan strawberry sauce also works. It will render a sweeter cake.
- Water and ice cubes: for the chocolate mousse process.
See the recipe card towards the end of this post for quantities.
How to make the cake batter
Use an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
One or two layers: I like the single-layer cake (9-inch springform pan), but you can use 2 round 8-inch cake pans, use the mousse as filling and topping, and make a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).
You'll have a shiny and smooth batter, just like in a regular chocolate cake mixture.
The cake will sink in the middle as it cools down, which is fine. The indentation will be filled with the chocolate mousse.
2-ingredient chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse is a wonderful thing, but it can be time-consuming to make, and you end up with a pile of dirty bowls on top of the ones you used for the cake.
So this decadent chocolate mousse filling is magic.
Just two ingredients: dark chocolate and hot water. Chocolate is ruined if you add a few drops, but not if you add a lot of water.
It does work, so well and so simple. Chocolate mousse in no time. And perfect for filling.
The chocolate flavor is absolute, so use one you love straight from the packet.
Melt chocolate in a large bowl, add hot water and beat at high speed over a bowl of ice water. Nothing will appear to happen for the first few minutes. But just wait and see. It'll start getting cold and stiff suddenly, like a regular mousse.
Vintage Kitchen tip: if the mousse gets too firm to spread, add a few teaspoons of hot water and beat some more until it loosens up and you reach the desired consistency and creamy texture.
- Fresh strawberries: we might debate that it's an optional ingredient, but I highly encourage you to add some. They're tangy but sweet and balance out the richness of the mousse.
- Strawberry sauce or topping is another alternative. I find it to be too much on top of the mousse, but it works if you like sweeter desserts, as this vegan cake is not very sweet.
- Other fresh berries: use one, like raspberries, or a mix with blackberries and blueberries. This can be instead or in addition to the strawberries.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Chocolate mousse: use it immediately, so make it when the cake is completely cool and ready to be filled.
- Make ahead: the cake layer can be made several days before and kept well wrapped in the fridge or frozen for a month.
- Serving: due to the chocolate mousse topping, this cake is best served slightly cold and not at room temperature as I usually recommend with chocolate cakes.
- All chocolate cake: omit the strawberries and add some chocolate shavings or drizzle chocolate ganache on top of the mousse.
Related recipes you might like:
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Chocolate Mousse Cake (dairy-free)
This vegan chocolate cake is a true showstopper with its moist, fudgy layers and smooth 2-ingredient chocolate mousse. The flavor is unique and deeply chocolate. Whether you're hosting a special occasion or simply treating your family, this recipe is bound to impress.
- Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings
For the cake layer:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ¾ cups soy or almond milk
- 2 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
- 1 ⅔ cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil (sunflower, coconut oil, or light olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
For the chocolate mousse layer:
- 10 oz. dark semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- ¾ cup hot water
- 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries (hulled and sliced)
- Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Butter or grease a 9-inch springform cake pan. You can also use two 8-inch round cake pans and fill the layers with the mousse.
- In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, cacao powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Stir to combine and make a well in the center.
- Add soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla. Beat or whisk until very well combined. The batter will be quite runny.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out with almost no crumbs attached. It will feel springy to the touch.
- Let cool on a wire rack and then unmold onto the serving platter.
- Cover the top with the chocolate mousse and decorate with sliced fresh strawberries. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.
For the chocolate mousse:
- Begin making the mousse right after the cake is cooled and removed from the pan.
- Have ready a large bowl with ice and cold water (ice water), enough so that the bowl with the chocolate fits comfortably.
- Melt the chocolate: start with chopped chocolate in a microwavable or glass bowl. You can use the microwave (short 10-15 second spurts stirring well between each one until it's fully melted) or a double boiler with the bowl containing the chopped chocolate not touching the water. In both cases, make sure it doesn't scorch.
- Add the hot water to the chocolate all at once. Immediately put the bowl over the ice water.
- With an electric mixer, start beating at high speed. It will not thicken for the first few minutes, but it will start to do so unexpectedly. And it will stiffen pretty quickly.
- If the mousse is too thick to spread, add a few teaspoons of very hot tap water and beat until smooth until spreadable. Use immediately.
You can use any fruit you like for the topping and your favorite frosting or whipped cream.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cooling time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
Keywords: vegan chocolate mousse cake
Adapted from Tea with Bea.
I tried this recipe more times and is amazing, do you have any suggestion for gluten free version? Would it work with rice flour? Thanks
Paula Montenegro says
Glad you like it! If I were to try a GF version, I would use almond meal and some rice flour. It will probably be fudgier.
Natividad Robles says
How many calories brings a portion of 100g, is there any other substitute for the flour?
Hi Natividad! You might try substituting the flour for a gluten free blend. I haven't tried it though.
Regarding calories, I don't know. But less than with regular recipes with butter.
Natividad Robles says
Thank you very much I will try with a gluten free blend and share with you!
This looks delicious. I came across your blog through this month's chocolate party link up. Such a beautiful looking cake.
That cake looks so unreal! And the fact that it is vegan is making me smile as wide as can be! I definitely need to try this!
How decadent yet fresh! Yum!
Nancy @ gottagetbaked says
Gah! I want a piece of this cake so badly right now! Your desserts and dishes always turn out looking like beautiful masterpieces, Paula. I made a vegan chocolate cake this past summer and I absolutely loved it I couldn't believe it tasted so good so I don't doubt for a minute that this is mindblowingly delicious.
Averie @ Averie Cooks says
I know of plenty of vegan chocolate cake recipes that are touted as being as good/better than non-vegan ones and I actually have one on my radar screen I want to trial! It's for cupcakes, not cake, but same difference.
Your cake is gorgeous, vegan or otherwise!
e / dig in says
paula i am like you - no eggs, no butter?? oil i can understand but vinegar? i too have been intrigued by vegan recipes, but also dubious, because i see weird substitution ingredients. but this cake is proof it can be done - and paula, i would of course trust you! it's a delicious looking cake no matter what label it has. thank you!