2019 Update! This supremely moist and rich and chocolate quinoa cake with chocolate whipped cream frosting is going to blow your mind. It’s the ULTIMATE birthday or holiday cake, and you’d never know that it contains no flour. Best of all, the batter and frosting come together in minutes in the Vitamix or food processor, making it the easiest cake you’ll ever make! (Video below!)

Close up of a slice of chocolate quinoa cake on a plate with a fork.

Chocolate quinoa cake recipe

Let me start by saying that chocolate cake is James’s very favorite food. It’s his penultimate. He orders it whenever it appears on a menu or when we visit bakeries. Now would you believe me if I told you that this chocolate quinoa cake, which contains NOT A SPECK OF FLOUR and is STUFFED WITH QUINOA is James’s FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CAKE IN THE WORLD? Sorry to yell there, but I’m a little excited. You need to taste it to believe it.

Overhead shot of the chocolate quinoa cake with chocolate whipped cream frosting on a cake stand.

The best quinoa cake

Unlike James, I’m somewhat ambivalent about cake (as described here, I’m a pie gal). However, I do love making rustic, one or two-bowl cakes that are homey but soul satisfying (like this and this). What I don’t like are the overly sweet, multi-layered elaborations that are often dry in the middle with a saccharine frosting (or, god forbid, fondant). I don’t like eating them, and I don’t like making them. However, this quinoa cake has turned me into a full-on chocolate cake lover. The cake itself is rich and incredibly moist, balanced by an ultra silky and light chocolate whipped cream frosting. It’s not too sweet and has an incredible texture.

Side view of the chocolate cake on a cake stand.

Vitamix chocolate cake

I’ve played around with various recipes to develop this version, which is somehow rich yet light. You won’t believe how easy it is to make—the batter AND the whipped cream frosting get whizzed up right in the Vitamix or food processor, meaning you don’t even need to pull out your mixing bowls. ?

Process shot divided into four quadrants, showing the steps for making the quinoa cake recipe in the Vitamix blender.

How to make chocolate quinoa cake

The process couldn’t be easier. Put milk, eggs, vanilla extract, coffee liqueur (or strong brewed coffee) and melted coconut oil in a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix (or you can use a food processor) and blend until smooth. Add the cooked quinoa and dry ingredients (sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and blend again on high until the batter is rich and creamy. Transfer the batter to two 8-inch cake pans, and bake them for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Secret ingredients in this chocolate quinoa cake

This cake has a few secret ingredients that give it an amazing flavor and texture:

Overhead shot showing all of the  ingredients for chocolate quinoa cake recipe.

Ingredient swaps you can use in this recipe

Instead of using virgin coconut oil you could go for melted butter or a neutral vegetable oil instead. Also, you can swap out the coffee liqueur for strong brewed coffee. I do recommend seeking out unprocessed cacao powder for this cake, which will give the cake a deeper flavor, but you could use a good quality cocoa powder instead.

What quinoa should I use in quinoa cake?

You want to use a white (also called golden) quinoa in this recipe, not a black or red quinoa, which both have a stronger flavor. You’ll need 2 cups of cooked quinoa for the cake (I include instructions on how to cook it in the recipe). It’s a great way to use up leftover quinoa (you can even make the quinoa a few weeks in advance and freeze it).

Chocolate whipped cream frosting

The chocolate whipped cream frosting is my favorite frosting, period. It’s adapted from the crepe cake recipe in my Holiday Baking Bluprint class. This version is even easier—heavy cream, powdered sugar, raw cacao powder, vanilla and coffee liqueur (which is optional) are simply blended in the Vitamix (or you can beat them using hand beaters) until thick and creamy. It’s ultra silky and light, and it’s also fabulous on cupcakes or over hot chocolate.

Process shot divided into four quadrants showing how to make Chocolate whipped cream frosting in the Vitamix blender.
Overhead shot of the the unfrosted chocolate cake on a cake stand with a dollop of the chocolate whipped cream frosting on top.

Can I make the cake ahead of time?

Yes! The two 8-inch cakes can be baked one day in advance. Once they cool, wrap them in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature (take note that these cakes are delicate since they don’t contain gluten, so be gentle!). Once frosted, the cake can be refrigerated for several hours. Leftovers will also last for several days in the fridge (I cover the cake with a large bowl, or you can use a cake dome).

Overhead shot of the chocolate quinoa cake with whipped cream frosting on a cake stand, with glasses of champagne to the side.

Gluten free chocolate cupcakes!

You can also use this same batter to make gluten free chocolate cupcakes! The batter will yield 16 rich, delicious cupcakes (be sure to line the tins with parchment liners so that the cupcakes don’t stick). Check the cupcakes at 20 minutes – a toothpick inserted in the center should have a few moist crumbs (the cupcakes will slump slightly as they cool).

Chocolate quinoa cupcakes on a countertop.

Best gluten free chocolate cake

With the holidays at our doorstep, this gluten-free chocolate quinoa cake would be the perfect finale to a special occasion meal. However, it’s also easy enough to whip up on a whim—I can’t imagine a more delicious way to inject some serious mid-week cheer into the season.

Close up of a piece of cake with a bite taken out.

I’m sending my warmest wishes to you and your family this holiday season. May you be safe and healthy, and may you always have room for cake.

Tips for making this quinoa cake:

  • You’ll need a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix to make this cake, or you can use a food processor. (I couldn’t live without my Vitamix, which I use not only for smoothies, soups and sauces, but also for batters like these blueberry muffins and these carrot cake muffins).
  • This double layer cake is on the smaller side, but it easily feeds 8-10 people. The cakes get baked in two 8-inch cake pans. Don’t be tempted to use 9-inch pans, as the cakes will be too thin.
  • You can also make cupcakes! This recipe makes 16 cupcakes (the baking time is the same). Line the cupcake tins with parchment cups so that the cupcakes don’t stick.
  • You can use any plain white or golden quinoa in this recipe. Avoid red or black quinoa, as the flavor is too assertive.
  • The coffee liqueur lends a wonderful flavor to the cake and frosting, but you can swap it out for strong-brewed coffee in the cake and omit it completely from the frosting, if you prefer.
  • Raw cacao powder gives the cake an unparalleled rich chocolaty flavor (p.s. it makes the best hot cocoa!). It’s a purer form of chocolate compared to regular cocoa powder (and it’s higher in antioxidants!), but if you can’t find it, you can use the best quality cocoa you can find.
Close up of a fork going into a piece of chocolate quinoa cake.

Other desserts to try:

*Thank you to Vitamix for sponsoring this post! I was compensated for this post, but all opinions and recipes are my own and are not endorsed by Vitamix.

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Gluten Free Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting (Gluten Free)

This is my VERY FAVORITE chocolate cake to make and eat, and you would never know that it doesn’t contain a speck of flour and that it’s made entirely in the Vitamix or food processor (meaning no mixing bowls)! The cake is made with cooked quinoa, which provides a wonderfully moist texture, but you can’t taste it AT ALL. Take note that you'll need to cook the quinoa before starting the cake (check out the notes below). Raw (unprocessed) cacao powder lends an unparalleled deep chocolate flavor—if you can’t find it use the best quality cocoa powder you can find. The light and creamy chocolate whipped cream frosting also gets made in the Vitamix (or you can use hand beaters). The frosting is also fabulous on cupcakes, crepes and hot chocolate. This double layer cake is on the smaller side, but it easily feeds 8-10 people (you can also make cupcakes – see the Notes below!). It’s the ultimate birthday, holiday or special occasion dessert!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Cooling Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake recipe in Vitamix, Chocolate quinoa cake, easy gluten free chocolate cake recipe, Quinoa cake recipe
Servings: 1 8-inch cake

Ingredients

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

  • Cooking spray or oil, for pans
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coffee liqueur or strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup (100 g) virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 cups (290 g) cooked quinoa, see notes below*
  • 1 cup (190 g) organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup (90 g) raw cacao powder (such as Navitas Naturals brand)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (44 g) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine grain sea salt

Instructions

Make the cake

  • For the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray or oil, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a Vitamix or food processor, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, coffee liqueur and coconut oil. Blend until incorporated. Add the quinoa, sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend, increasing the speed to high, until smooth, stopping and scraping occasionally.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread in an even layer. Bake 20-23 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few crumbles (don’t over-bake otherwise the cake will be dry). Let the cakes cool in the pans set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto racks, and peel off the parchment. Let cool completely before frosting. Make it Ahead: Once cooled, the cakes can be wrapped well and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day (take care when moving the cakes, as they are very tender and can break fairly easily—I find it easiest to slide them onto the plastic wrap instead of picking them up.)

Make the frosting and assemble

  • For the cocoa whipped cream frosting, place all of the ingredients in a clean Vitamix (or you can use a bowl with hand beaters). Blend on low until fully incorporated. Slowly increase the speed, and blend until the mixture is thickened and no longer moves around the blade (if using hand beaters, beat on high until thick and creamy). Take care not to over-blend, otherwise the frosting will turn a bit grainy (but it will still taste great).
  • To frost the cake, very carefully slide one of the cake layers onto a cake stand or serving platter (the cake is very tender and has a tendency to break if it’s handled too much, so go slowly. That being said, if it does break, simply patch it back together on the cake plate—nobody will know!). Spoon about a quarter of the frosting on top, and spread it in an even layer. Place the second cake layer over top, and spoon on the remaining frosting. Spread the frosting in an even layer on top and around the sides of the cake. If possible, cover the cake with a dome or large bowl and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

Do Ahead: The frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 6 hours before serving. Leftovers (if you have any!) are also delicious the next day.
Tips:
  • *You’ll need to start with ¾ cup of dry quinoa to yield at least 2 cups of cooked quinoa (be sure to use golden quinoa, not red or black quinoa, which will be too assertive in flavor). Rinse the quinoa well, then place it in a small saucepan with 1 ½ cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit 10 minutes, covered, to steam. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, then transfer it to a bowl and let it cool completely. Once cool, measure out 2 cups of cooked quinoa for the cake (you will have leftover quinoa, which you can toss is salads or use in grain bowls).
  • The cake batter and frosting gets made in a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, or you can use a food processor. 
  • You’ll need two 8-inch cake pans for this cake. Don’t be tempted to use 9-inch pans, as the cakes will be too thin.
  • You can also make cupcakes! This recipe makes 16 cupcakes (the baking time is the same). Line the cupcake tins with parchment cups so that the cupcakes don’t stick.
  • Using raw cacao powder in this cake gives it a richer chocolate flavor. You can find it online or in many grocery stores (p.s. it makes the best hot chocolate!).
  • You can swap out the coffee liqueur in the cake batter for strong brewed coffee (you can also omit it completely from the frosting if you prefer).
  • Before frosting the cake, I like to slide narrow strips of parchment paper under the edges of the cake so that I don’t get my serving platter dirty (see the video for reference!).

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