Chocolate cake is one dish that can be baked for a celebration, a break-up recovery (substituting for a tub of ice cream), a casual meet-up or for no reason at all. You really don’t need motivation to make a luxurious chocolate cake.

“Guilt-free” is a strong word, especially when put into the same phrase as “chocolate cake”. However, once you’ve tried my recipe, you’ll understand my sentiment.

I created this recipe through trial and error as I was on a quest to find the perfect chocolate cake and icing for my brother’s homecoming. My brother suffers from leaky gut syndrome, which does not allow his body to digest any form of gluten or dairy. Making him a chocolate cake seemed apt, having not seen him in three years. Umpteen trials later, I understood the basic proportions and approximate quantities needed to prepare the cake. A basic cake consists of:

Fat: I use a combination of canola and coconut oils; oil in chocolate cake makes for a tender crumb. Use oils that aren’t high in flavour to avoid a clash with the chocolate.

Sweetener: I use liquid honey or organic maple syrup, which makes the batter runnier, however, it also gives the cake moisture.

Leavening agent: I use four leavening agents in this cake to ensure that it’s light and airy without much effort. Eggs are not only leavening agents here, but they also bind the batter together. For a vegetarian or vegan option, use flaxseed eggs instead. Baking powder, bicarb of soda and vinegar assist in creating a light-textured cake.

Flour: I use a combination of almond, walnut and coconut flours to ensure that the cake is gluten free. You could use hazelnut or cashew powder instead (I like making my own nut powders at home as it is easy and economical. Toast the nuts until their aroma fills the air and then blend with 1 tsp icing sugar, which stops the nuts from releasing their oils, making nut butter instead of powder).

Flavouring agent: I use dark, dairy-free chocolate chips and cocoa powder, both of which are essential in achieving that indulgent, rich flavour.

The game changers for this recipe are the vegetables that you don’t actually taste in the cake, making it go from an allergy-driven recipe, to a healthy dessert, to a great way to make kids eat their veg in no time!

This cake doesn’t require any fancy equipment to prepare. In addition, you need zero decoration skills as the icing does all the work with its glossy appearance, inviting anyone in for a voluptuous slice, quite lavishly serving half a dozen hungry folk.

Guilt-free chocolate cake

Serves: 6



  • 2 cups flour (almond, walnut, coconut)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs (or 4 flaxseed eggs)
  • ½ cup canola and/or coconut oil
  • 3 cups grated raw veg (1 ½ cups beetroot & 1 ½ cups courgette)
  • ¼ cup organic maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (70% dark)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar


  • ¾ cup sweet potato, peeled, boiled, mashed and cooled
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 5 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 6 tbsp organic maple syrup or honey
  • ½ pinch salt

To decorate:

  • handful mixed berries
  • ⅓ cup cocoa nibs


  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line three 9-inch cake tins with oil and baking paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flours, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder. Using a whisk, stir until combined.
  3. Add the eggs, oil, grated veg, maple syrup or honey and chocolate chips. Mix until almost combined, then add the boiling water. Mix the bicarb of soda with the vinegar and add it to the batter.
  4. Mix all until combined and divide the batter into the three tins and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until all have risen and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  5. To make the icing, blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Leave in the fridge to cool for 10 minutes before spreading over the cake.
  6. To assemble the cake, layer one cake, then add some icing, berries and cocoa nibs. Repeat the process until the entire cake is iced and decorated.
  7. Serve right away or make ahead and serve the next day.

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Live and Breathe all things food. Salt and Sugar are my air and water. Cant live without either.

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