Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Orange Cake – Gluten free, dairy free, and easy as can be, this chocolate orange cake is EXACTLY the dessert you need this holiday season!
This post has been sponsored by Wholesome. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting me in working with brands I love!
We live in the desert, so the temperatures are still well into the sunny 70s and 80s, which means the weather doesn’t exactly get us in the holiday spirit the way it did when we lived in places with snow and, well, all four seasons. Instead, we’ve learned we have to create that holiday magic ourselves. We’ve started lighting candles in the evenings, lowering the lights a little, playing soft, happy music, and getting our holiday decorations out just a little bit early.
It’s made a big difference for us the last few years to create that holiday magic in our home by changing the feeling and mood with things like music and decorations, but we’ve gotten even more into holiday traditions in the last few years. Having little markers throughout the holiday season to look forward to gives us all those happy holiday feelings without the snow and cold to help us along.
I’ve got a whole post about special holiday traditions to share later this week, but today, I thought I’d share one of the things that gets us in the holiday spirit more than just about anything: holiday baking!
If there’s a perfect time of year to enjoy special sweets, it’s the holidays. Whether that’s baking up a pie for Thanksgiving, cookies to deliver to the neighbors, or a cake for Christmas, this is exactly the time of year we savor and enjoy every sweet bite. Today, I have a Chocolate Orange Cake that will INSTANTLY give you all the comfy, cozy, very merry feelings this season has to offer.
Deeply chocolatey, with notes from orange and cinnamon, this Orange Chocolate Cake has been such a fun holiday adventure for us. We’ve mixed and stirred and blasted the holiday music as we’ve gotten it just right. And friends? It’s exactly what we want it to be. It was the (orange chocolate) icing on top that it’s also vegan and gluten free!
The texture was perfect–substantial without being heavy or dense and PERFECT with the glossy chocolate ganache. It’s just the sort of cake you need to get right into the holiday spirit and create a little kitchen magic. So play a little music, turn on the twinkle lights, and get baking!
Notes on this Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Orange Cake:
To be or not to be gluten free. I kept things easy by using a one-for-one gluten free flour blend (which you can easily swap out for traditional flour if you’re not gluten free). I haven’t successfully tested this recipe with almond/coconut flours or individual gluten free flours, so I don’t recommend trying to substitute them.
Something sweet. As far as sweetener goes, you have a few choices here! For our holiday cake, I used Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar, which gave it that extra special touch. It’s non-GMO, free from additives and artificial ingredients, organic, and fair trade, which we love. If you prefer, Wholesome also makes an EXCELLENT quality Coconut Sugar we use regularly in things like our Gluten Free Brownies and Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. (Learn more about their whole product line here.)
A Tip for Your Orange. Dorie Greenspan taught me that any time you are adding citrus zest to a recipe, you can coax the most flavor out of it by rubbing it into your sugar before adding it to the other ingredients. This releases the citrus oils and spreads the flavor out even more. I tested it both ways and it really does make a difference!
Storing the Leftovers & Make-Ahead Tips. I tend to store all my cakes in the fridge to keep them as fresh as possible. This will keep (covered as well as you can) in the fridge for at least 3-4 days. If you want to make it ahead of time, you can also make, cool, and freeze your unfrosted cake for 3-4 weeks ahead of time. Before serving, thaw the cake to room temperature, then frost with your ganache.
Want More Holiday Treat Ideas? Create a Little Magic With…
- Paleo Ginger Cookies – Try with Wholesome Molasses, Coconut Sugar or Light Brown Sugar & Turbinado Sugar.
- Vegan Hot Chocolate Mix – Try with Wholesome Coconut Sugar or Cane Sugar
- PERFECT Gluten Free Brownies – Try with Wholesome Coconut or Cane Sugars
- Triple Berry Crumble Pie – Try with Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar
- Paleo Double Chocolate Chip Cookies – Try with Wholesome Coconut Sugar or Light Brown Sugar
You can find Wholesome at a store near you (find a store here), or shop now here. Also, don’t miss their recipe page for even more sweet ideas and save even more by using an ibotta coupon when you buy!
For the Dry Ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cup 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour (or traditional flour if not GF)
- 1 cup Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2–3 tsp fresh orange zest (from about 1 orange)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
For the Wet Ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cup nondairy milk (I use unsweetened almond milk), warmed slightly
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly.
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Orange Chocolate Ganache:
- 1 cup dairy free chocolate chips (I like dark or semi-sweet)
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (can sub 1/4–1/2 cup other non-dairy milk)
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray or a thin layer of coconut oil.
- Optional, and recommend for easily removing cake from pan: Cut 4 (1-2″ wide) strips of parchment paper long enough to hang over the edge of the baking pan. Place them in an “X” across the bottom of your greased pan. Cut an 8″ circle (I trace the pan to get it right) of parchment and place that on top of the “X”
For the dry ingredients:
- In a large bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub with your fingers until the sugar is coated with the orange oil from the zest and the whole mixture is very fragrant. Add GF flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set bowl aside while you mix your wet ingredients.
For the wet ingredients:
- Slightly warm your milk (so it doesn’t harden the coconut oil into clumps). It shouldn’t be steaming hot, just slightly above room temperature. Pour into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in coconut oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and well combined.
Assemble the cake:
- Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently pour mixture into your prepared baking pan. Smooth out the surface a little if needed. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until completely set and only a few moist crumbs come out when a toothpick or cake tester is inserted in the center.
- Let cake cool for 4-5 minutes before removing from pan and placing on a cooling rack or cake stand. If you’ve added the parchment paper “X.” you can use these handles to help you lift the cake out. If you prefer, you can place a plate over the top of the cake pan and (working carefully with oven mitts) flip the cake out onto the plate. Then, repeat the process by flipping the cake off your plate an onto the cooling rack or cake stand.
- Let cake cool completely before adding the ganache.
For the ganache:
- Fill a small saucepan with about 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place a medium bowl over the top of the pan to create a double boiler, which will gently melt your chocolate. Add chocolate chips, coconut milk, coconut oil, and orange zest to the bowl and stir until almost no lumps remain and mixture is glossy. Remove bowl from the pan and continue to stir until very smooth. (The residual heat will melt the remaining lumps).
- Pour ganache over the top of the cake and gently smooth out over the top, allowing ganache to spill over the sides. Serve as is, or top the cake with sugared cranberries, orange slices, etc.