This decadent dairy free gluten free chocolate cake is made with a ‘secret ingredient’ that makes it super tender without any added butter or eggs.
What makes this chocolate cake different?
The “secret ingredient” that replaces eggs and butter in this cake is mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a stable emulsion made of eggs and oil.
I promise it doesn’t make the cake taste like mayo. I’m not a mayo person for the sake of it. I love this cake.
I don’t generally like to bake with neutral oils like canola and vegetable oil, since they tend to create an oily-tasting cake. Baking with mayonnaise allows us to bake without any dairy substitutes, but still bake a moist and tender, super decadent chocolate cake that is also dairy-free.
If you love mayonnaise, you won’t taste it in this cake. If you can’t stand mayonnaise, you still won’t taste it in this cake.
This isn’t a dense cake at all. It’s really a snacking cake, like the kind you might have hanging around in the refrigerator or on the counter.
You might even do what my grandmother used to do, which is to slice little pieces off the edge as a service to others. That helps to “even” the edges so it looks more appetizing.
If you’d prefer a more “classic” chocolate cake, and you can have dairy, try our one bowl gluten free chocolate cake recipe. It’s the standard against which all other cakes are measured.
What chocolate is gluten free and dairy free?
My favorite dairy-free and gluten free chocolate chips are from Enjoy Life brand. They’re super rich and high quality. All of Enjoy Life’s products are free of the top 8 most common allergens, which include gluten and dairy, making them safe for most people to enjoy (life 🤭).
If you need baking chocolate bars to chop, I really like Hu Kitchen brand, which is dairy free and gluten free. Scharffen Berger brand is the higher-quality baking chocolate that I usually turn to, and some varieties don’t contain any dairy ingredients.
Some other brands of gluten free dairy free chocolate bars are some varieties from Alter Eco, Green & Black’s, and Endangered Species—but they’re all quite expensive.
Is there chocolate in this cake batter?
Like our chocolate crazy cake, this cake is made chocolate-flavored with cocoa powder, not with melted chocolate in the batter. It calls for dairy-free chocolate chips to be mixed into the smooth batter, but they’re optional.
When I’m serving this chocolate cake without frosting, I like to melt 1 ounce of chopped chocolate in the boiling water that’s mixed with the cocoa powder. It helps to add some more chocolate flavor and richness to the cake itself.
The frosting itself also calls for dairy-free chopped chocolate that’s mixed with hot coconut cream to create a dairyfree chocolate ganache. If you’re dairy-free, you need to be sure your chocolate is also dairy-free.
Is this cake Paleo?
This cake is not Paleo, since it’s made with a classic rice-based all purpose gluten free flour blend. Rice is not Paleo.
It isn’t made with almond flour, either, which has a much shorter shelf life, and is typically very expensive (but worth it, usually!). The best Paleo chocolate cake is, indeed, made with almond flour.
Ingredients and substitutions
This cake is made with mayonnaise, which contains eggs and oil in perfect emulsion. I haven’t tested it with “vegan” mayonnaise. I am very curious to see if it would work, but I can’t give any guidance.
If you can’t have eggs, I recommend making our gluten free chocolate crazy cake, which is vegan. It descends from a Depression-era special that doesn’t call for eggs at all.
You must use regular, full-fat mayonnaise. Not a “light” version, or one made with olive oil (which is also “light”).
Avoid mayonnaise with added flavors, too. If possible, use Hellmann’s, since I think anything else tastes quite different.
Cornstarch is used in this recipe to tenderize the cake by increasing the starch component that’s already in your all purpose gluten free flour. This assumes that you’re not already using a higher-starch blend, like Cup4Cup.
If you’re already using a higher starch blend, use more of that blend in place of the cornstarch. If you’re not, but you need to avoid corn, you can use arrowroot, or even potato starch, in its place.
You don’t have to use brewed coffee at all, but it does deepen the chocolate flavor. It doesn’t make the cake taste like coffee, though.
In place of the brewed coffee, you can use more boiling water. You can also replace some hot water with more coffee.
Decaffeinated coffee is fine. So is caffeinated coffee.