Chocolate Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

This cake is a riff on our traditional gluten free gingerbread cake. With all due respect to the original, though, this lightly spiced, rich and incredibly moist cake is way better. And it’s not super rich at all.

Don’t worry about the slightly longer than normal list of ingredients! This cake is a snap to put together and all it takes is one bowl, especially if you use a digital kitchen scale to measure out the right amounts of honey, maple syrup, and molasses.

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

The perfect blend of all purpose gluten free flour and cornstarch keeps this cake from being dense even though it’s moist and rich. I never serve this cake with any sort of frosting, since it has so much flavor and plenty of sweetness on its own.

For extra flair, serve it at your holiday table on small plates, and dust each plated piece separately with confectioners’ sugar. The dusting isn’t for sweetness, but rather for presentation, so of course, it’s optional.

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

When it comes to the holiday season, we often know in advance what sort of meal and sides we plan to serve. There’s something incredibly comforting for family and friends to know that they can enjoy the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and creamed spinach they look forward to all year.

The holidays also bring an ease for the cook, even if you know you’ll be cooking for days. You know that your tried and true recipes (or mine, if you’re new to being gluten free!) will carry the day.

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

When it comes to dessert, there have to be cookies for Christmas, and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Squashes like pumpkin mixed with all of the warm spices of the season, like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, make everything feel festive.

I like to bring something related but still somewhat unexpected to the holidays every year, too. This chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake hits all the right notes. Packed with ground cinnamon and ginger, it makes the whole house smell special.

The honey, molasses and maple syrup also bring incredible tenderness and depth of flavor, too. This is the sort of cake that’s so tender, the crumbs stick together and try to form more cake. It’s like they know. I hope you’ll give it a chance to round out your holiday table.

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful chocolate gluten free gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

Ingredients and Substitutions

As always, unless I’ve specifically indicated otherwise, I haven’t tested this recipe with any substitutions. Here are my best-educated guesses, though, to help those of you who have other dietary restrictions and still want to make this incredibly moist and rich holiday cake.

Dairy-free: I used to make this recipe with a mixture of unsalted butter and oil, but over the years I’ve swapped out the butter for oil and found that I liked the cake even better. That means that, as long as you use dairy-free melted chocolate, the cake is naturally dairy-free. Win!

Egg-free: Since this cake recipe only calls for one egg, I feel pretty good about recommending a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water mixed and allowed to gel) as a substitution. but you’ll have to experiment!

Corn-free: In place of cornstarch, I bet you could use potato starch or arrowroot. If you’re using an all purpose gluten free flour that is already quite high in starch, like Cup4Cup or my mock Cup4Cup, eliminate the cornstarch and use more all purpose gluten free flour in its place.

Click Play ▶️ And Watch Me Make This Chocolate GF Gingerbread Cake

See how incredibly easy it is to mix the dry ingredients, add the wet and beat with a mixer or just a big spoon, and pop it into the oven. Then, get started on making your new signature dessert!

Rich chocolate and warm spices earn this moist and flavorful gluten free chocolate gingerbread cake a place of honor at your holiday table.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 square cake


2 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped

1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/2 cup (72 g) cornstarch

1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (42 g) unsulphured molasses

6 tablespoons (126 g) pure maple syrup

4 tablespoons (84 g) honey

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) warm water

8 tablespoons (112 g) neutral oil (I used sunflower oil)

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 325° F. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan, line it with unbleached parchment paper, and set it aside.

  • In a small, microwave safe bowl, place the chopped chocolate and microwave for 45 seconds at a time at 60% power, stirring in between intervals, until melted and smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool briefly.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the molasses, maple syrup, honey, egg, melted chocolate, water and oil, and beat with either a mixer or a large spoon until well-combined.The batter will be smooth, and thickly pourable. Pour into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Bang the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles from within the batter.

  • Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with, at most, a few moist crumbs attached (about 35 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan until firm (about 10 minutes). Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cake is cool, dust with the optional powdered sugar, slice and serve.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2012. Recipe simplified and made naturally dairy-free, photos and video and most text new.


Comments are closed.

  • Susan Milton
    October 22, 2017 at 2:54 AM

    Made it tonight. …just amazing! Thank you so much. Love the flavor and tender texture of this cake. No one would ever know it’s gluten free!

  • G & C Klein
    October 21, 2017 at 6:50 PM

    Sounds delicious, we love all your recipes but as I am not a very good baker I do not do your baking recipes justice all of the time (not patient enough to measure exactly!) You do inspire me to keep trying and my family are very lucky as my daughter loves to bake, so gladly tries out what I print off! Thank you for inspiring us both :)
    We have all the ingredients except molasses, can you please give us some advice on what can we use instead of molasses? (it is not easily available on our small island)

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 22, 2017 at 8:41 AM

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m afraid that molasses has a deep rich flavor that isn’t easily duplicated and is particularly important to gingerbread cake. Can you find dark corn syrup? That might do the trick.

  • Lenora
    October 18, 2017 at 2:36 PM

    Baked this wonderful cake yesterday for a grandson but taste tested it and it was GREAT!! I did have to bake it for 50 min. till the toothpick came out clean. I measured everything by weight (where they were given except the water). I also had to bake those wonderful soft chocolate chip cookies (they melt in your mouth, yum) longer, so I will need to check my oven (it’s new) temperatures. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your recipes (I have all the books!), and your substitutions as we are also dealing with Dairy Free and sugar restrictions! Now to find the regular gingerbread cake for the granddaughter who is also chocolate restricted.
    Thank you for using your adversities to bless others!

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 18, 2017 at 7:32 PM

      Hi, Lenora,
      Thanks so much for letting me know. I’m glad you had so much success! I do always recommend using an oven thermometer, as most ovens are off by at least 25 degrees if not more. And calibrating them isn’t worthwhile since they’ll just drift.

  • Ada
    October 16, 2017 at 2:30 PM

    Can I use domata flour and do you have to se cocoa powder., I was hoping for some time to have a gingerbread cake recipe., thanks.

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 16, 2017 at 7:52 PM

      Hi, Ada, that isn’t one of my recommended flour blends, and I don’t expect that it would work in this recipe, no. It’s not a properly balanced blend. Yes, you have to use cocoa powder. Please follow the link in the post to my plain gluten free gingerbread cake if you’d like a cake with out chocolate.

  • Carole
    October 16, 2017 at 10:43 AM

    Hi Nicole,
    Do you think agave would work in place of the honey in this recipe?
    Thanks, Carole

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 16, 2017 at 7:53 PM

      I’m afraid I really don’t know, Carole. Sorry!

  • Diane Hyde
    October 15, 2017 at 7:27 AM

    Hi Nicole,

    The cake looks so good, I have one question, if I leave out the cocoa,(niece cannot have chocolate), can I just add more flour?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 16, 2017 at 8:22 AM

      You definitely can’t do that, Diane. Sorry! Try my recipe for gingerbread cake. It’s linked to in this post.

  • Julie
    October 12, 2017 at 11:39 PM

    Any advice? I followed this recipe exactly (it is delicious!), but it took 50 min to bake and then sunk in the middle. Any ideas on what might cause that?
    Thanks so much! I love all of your recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 13, 2017 at 8:56 AM

      Hi, Julie,
      That sounds like you overmeasured wet ingredients, and/or used an unbalanced flour blend. Did you measure your ingredients by weight or by volume?

      Normally, when baked goods rise rapidly and then fall as they cool, it’s due to a too-hot oven that bakes the outside before the inside has a chance to support it. Baked goods should bake from the center out, gradually. But if you baked it for 50 minutes and it still fell, it’s more likely that the ingredients weren’t properly balanced. One of the things I love most about this cake is how steadily it rises and doesn’t crack or cave when made as written. So those are my best guesses! By the weay, thank you for the respectful way you asked your question. It definitely makes me want to help you troubleshoot! :)

  • Rasheeda
    October 11, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    Hi there.
    Iam from South Africa.
    Here in S.A. we have the Natures Choice gluten free cake flour.
    Will this flour work for me and should i leave out the cornstarch.
    Thank You for all your yummy recipes.

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 11, 2017 at 2:33 PM

      Hi, Rasheeda,
      I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that flour, so I just can’t say! It sounds like it’s worth a shot, and yes, I would leave out the cornstarch, but add in an equal amount, by weight, of the cake flour. Good luck!

  • December 19, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    […] glutenfreeonashoestring.com via Mary on […]

  • Mariana_muniz
    December 18, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    Sounds amazing! I’m totally in love with your blog. I’m from Brazil and down here we don’t have much GF options/ingredients. But it happens that EVERY single recipe I’ve done turned out great! Congrats!
    And yes, I’ve just ordered your books so that you can go on doing this great job!

  • December 18, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Sounds Gorgeous! Am so making this. My hubby LOVES anything gingercakish :)

  • December 18, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Sounds Gorgeous! Am so making this! My hubby LOVES gingercake in any form :)

  • Yanica
    December 18, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Ooohhh, this would be awesome topped with maple whipped cream too!!

  • Kelly Elardo
    December 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    I know that the cake would be more dense if one does not use cake flour. But do I remember you giving an option to add corn starch to regular gf flour one time? Can we do this here? just curious. 

    • gfshoestring
      December 18, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      Hi, Kelly,
      If you look in the ingredients list, I explain how to make cake flour by adding cornstarch to all purpose gluten-free flour. So, yes. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Kelly Elardo
        December 18, 2012 at 5:46 PM

        Looking in the ingredients list!? Why didn’t I think of that?!! see you’re not the only one not always together.  thank you!!!!

      • Kelly Elardo
        December 20, 2012 at 12:43 PM

         BTW not sure if I”m allowed to name product names but I used a dairy free “butter” and it was perfect. 

  • kclark
    December 18, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Working from home today (sick) and I have ALL the ingredients.  I love gingerbread and then you add chocolate? Ahhh, can’t wait for the kids to see this when they get home from school! 

  • December 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    This looks SO yummy! I am making some dinners for a family whose mom is going through treatment for breast cancer and I wanted to do something seasonal and fun but easy and quick.  And lo and behold, Nicole to the rescue!  And even though they aren’t GFree, your recipes are so yummy that I don’t have to worry about them not liking it.  WOOT!  And thank you SO much for the cake flour instructions; GF cake flour is as uncommon as a TRex around here so knowing how to do it at home is a huge bonus.

    Thanks again!

    • gfshoestring
      December 18, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      This is definitely season fun easy & quick, Brenda! It is nice to be able to bake GF food good enough that no one knows the difference. That’s the way it should be. Speedy recovery to that mom and her family. 
      xoxo Nicole

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.