Vegan Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

A decadent chocolate olive oil cake, that you would never believe was also vegan! It comes together in one bowl and is topped with vegan chocolate buttercream and rainbow sprinkles. A birthday cake – or any day cake – that anyone can enjoy!

vegan chocolate snack cake from

Hello, chocolate snack cake. As in, cake just for the sake of cake. Sprinkles, sure, but no special occasion required. What a wonderfully delicious concept! 😍

This extra chocolate-y cake, with a deep dark cocoa base and swirls of luscious chocolate buttercream frosting, is perfect for last minute cravings. It’s quick to whip up – just one bowl in this case, okay, and maybe another one for the frosting – but super easy, and surprisingly – completely vegan.

Though you’d never know it.

vegan chocolate snack cake from

Now, I don’t follow a completely plant based diet. But the fact that this chocolate snack cake happens to be vegan thrills me for one major reason.

I’ve struggled with what is “too much” when it comes to sharing personal details in this space. I’d like it to be authentic to my actual life. My favorite part of blogging is the community that comes along with it, and I want to share with you honestly. But I also more-than-occasionally get nasty messages about how I should stick to food, and oh, by the way, it’s annoying to have to arduously scroll down the page to the free recipes I’m providing.

So I’m trying to find a middle ground, and have decided that most of my very personal posts will happen on Instagram, where I share more details of our daily life, especially on Stories. If you already follow along there, you may have recently seen me get unexpectedly emotional talking about our son Henry.

vegan chocolate snack cake from

Because of Henry’s past digestive issues, we’re still working on introducing all of the major food allergen groups. He recently started daycare part time, and because he has a known egg allergy and we’re still avoiding wheat, dairy, and nuts, I have to send special meals for him. Several weeks ago, when I dropped him off one morning, and saw him sitting by himself at his own little table to eat breakfast while all the other toddlers were at a different table, it kind of broke my heart.

Intellectually, I know that it’s important to eat separately to avoid an accidental reaction. That the tables are maybe a foot apart. That usually one of the teachers sits with him. And that he’s little, and it’s most likely way harder for me and likely not an issue at all for him. But he’s still my baby, and I don’t want him to ever feel left out.

I also realized with some irony, that my work most days deals largely with eggs and butter, milk and sugar, flour, and lots of other traditional baking ingredients that Henry can’t eat. And while he’s only 17 months old, and has almost zero concept of sweets or desserts right now, as he gets older, I want him to be included.

vegan chocolate snack cake from

So that means, that after quite a bit of thought (hence my recent absence), I’ve decided to make a change here. So that this blog space matches up more authentically with our real life, and that means more inclusive dessert recipes. To be honest it’s been a long time coming.

I’m still figuring out exactly what this will look like, ingredient-wise, but I’m excited to work on new recipes that my own kid can eat. You know, once he’s no longer convinced that raspberries are dessert…

The one thing I know for sure is that every allergy-friendly recipe I share will still taste every bit as good as the “real” thing. In fact, my hope is that you won’t even notice the change.

No, this won’t become a health food blog. I still love me lotsa sugar and some indulgent chocolate cake – there will just be more treats for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you so much for following along – I appreciate each and every one of you so, so much!! xo

vegan chocolate snack cake from

What is a depression cake?

This deep dark chocolate snack cake is in the vein of a depression cake. A depression cake – sometimes also called crazy cake – is a cake usually made without eggs, or butter, or milk, or sugar – expensive or hard to find ingredients during the Depression.

However, this version certainly does not taste like we are going without.

This cake doesn’t set out to be vegan, but does become so, as it’s humble ingredients magically come together where traditionally eggs and dairy shine.

vegan chocolate snack cake from

How to make a chocolate olive oil cake

In this case I’ve eliminated the eggs, butter, and milk, but we still get great flavor from rich Dutch-processed cocoa and good vanilla, and plenty of richness and moisture from olive oil and brown sugar.

Without eggs for leavening, we rely on baking soda and apple cider vinegar, which reacts with the acidic ingredients to provide plenty of lift and produces a moist and decadent, tender-crumbed cake that I’d dare you to guess was vegan.

It’s an excellent option for when you’re serving guests with lots of different dietary requirements. Or for when you are simply out of one or more traditional baking ingredients!

Happy Baking!!

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vegan chocolate snack cake from

Vegan Chocolate Olive Oil Cake


A decadent chocolate olive oil cake, that you would never believe was also vegan! It comes together in one bowl and is topped with vegan chocolate buttercream and rainbow sprinkles. A birthday cake – or any day cake – that anyone can enjoy!


for the chocolate snack cake:
1-1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour¹
2/3 cup (64g) unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup (148g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (106g) (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (120g) olive oil
1-1/3 cups (315g) coffee or water, at room-temperature
2 tsp (10g) pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp (15g) apple cider vinegar

for the vegan chocolate buttercream:
2 oz (55g) bittersweet chocolate (60-80% cacao),² chopped
1-1/2 cups (180g) confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted as needed
1/2 cup (113g) vegan butter,³ softened
1 Tbsp non-dairy milk³
1 tsp (5g) pure vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
optional: sprinkles⁴ or nonpareils, for decorating


for the vegan chocolate olive oil cake:
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a 9-inch (round or square) cake pan with parchment paper.⁵ Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugars, until combined. Add the olive oil, coffee and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Drizzle the vinegar over the top. It should react, light and frothy, as you stir it into the batter, until just combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan. It will be fairly thin. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is gently puffed, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a baking rack (or transfer upright with the parchment paper) to cool completely.

for the vegan chocolate buttercream:
Melt the chopped chocolate, in the microwave or using a double-boiler. Set aside to cool.

In a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the powdered sugar and butter on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Then turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Turn the mixer off, drizzle in the melted chocolate, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat again on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add more milk as needed until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. It should be fluffy and spreadable, but hold its shape on the cake.

When the cake has cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread on an even layer of the frosting, creating swirls and swoops with the spatula. Top with sprinkles. Enjoy!!


¹ I’m in the process of testing this cake with a cup-for-cup gluten free all-purpose flour blend. Will report back with my results!
² Most of the flavor of the buttercream comes from the chocolate, so use your best! The confectioners sugar in the frosting will balance out most of the bitterness in the chocolate, so a very dark, bittersweet chocolate works well.
³ I used Earth Balance (soy free) vegan butter to keep the frosting vegan to match the cake. However, you can use regular unsalted butter and cow’s milk or cream for a traditional buttercream as well.
⁴ These naturally colored sprinkles and white nonpareils are from India Tree.
⁵ If you’re using a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a parchment paper round. If you’re using a square 9-inch square cake pan, it’s easiest to create a parchment paper sling leaving a few inches of parchment paper on each side to lift the cake out of the pan once it is cool. You can also frost it and serve it right in the pan 🙂

  • Category: Baking, Dessert, Vegan
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American, Vegan,

Keywords: chocolate snack cake, olive oil cake, vegan chocolate cake, depression cake, vegan buttercream, birthday cake, sprinkles, chocolate olive oil cake, egg free baking, allergy friendly

More chocolate cake + cupcakes:

Easy Classic Birthday Cupcakes

Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Spice Cake with Ginger Buttercream

Blackberry Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan)

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  1. 4.6.20
    Kimberly said:

    This cake recipe baked up moist and delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and baked it for 30 minutes (not 35). The Chocolate frosting recipe was just too thick. After adding extra soy milk it still wasn’t spreading consistency and the taste was just okay. I decided to add 3 Tbsp of peanut butter and that made all the difference! The frosting still tasted mostly chocolate with a hint of peanut butter and it spread like a dream!
    Thank you for this wonderful vegan recipe!

    • 4.8.20
      Laura said:

      So happy to hear that! Thanks, Kimberly!

  2. 4.2.20
    Anisha said:

    Absolutely delighted with the end result just so so delicious thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. 2.26.19
    Elspeth said:

    Hello, thanks for sharing this recipe, & your story, this cake brings back some sweet winter memories (snowed in, in a cabin in the woods, pulling ingredients out of the cupboard to make very similar cake- as Katherine Apsey says, I had a recipe called wacky cake, depression era cake). I remember it being fabulous cake with a nice crumb.
    I don’t understand why people would object to sharing personal stories. It can help other families with child (or adult) food allergy or sensitivity issues. I’ve worked in a healthcare clinic & allergy testing & the visits, testing, diet, can all be overwhelming, emotional. I completely relate to your story about your son sitting at his own little table & wanting to make things better for him. Keep being yourself; I found the story loving, lovely! Thanks for recipe. Will be making this.

  4. 2.25.19

    This cake sounds amazing and looks so pretty! I thank you for sharing your story. I like a blog that gets personal and brings a human element to the story. And Poop be upon those trolls!! There’s always going to be some crabby-ass person!

  5. 2.25.19
    Katherine Apsey said:

    I disagree with those who find your sharing a from your personal life to be intrusive. I enjoy using recipes from blogs because they ARE personal. You story about your son sitting separately at lunch otugged at my heart! You sound like an amazing mom and you are a great blogger. I will look you up on instagram. As for the cake…I used to make the same one and it was called wacky cake…I totally forgot about it as a vegan dessert option.

  6. 2.23.19
    Louise said:

    Welcome back, Laura!
    I’ve missed your delicious recipes as well as your cheerful, upbeat posts, and look forward to learning more of your tweaks to traditional recipes. For instance, I’d never have guessed that apple cider vinegar would work as a leavening agent.
    i hope your dear Henry appreciates how much his Mom is looking out for him and wish you all the best for his good health!

Hi! I'm Laura, the food-obsessed cook, writer, and photographer behind Fork Knife Swoon, where you'll find mostly sweet, seasonal recipes and stories from my Northern Virginia kitchen.

All photography and content copyright Laura Bolton ©2021.