A decadent olive oil chocolate snack 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!
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.
Now, I don’t follow a vegan 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.
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.
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
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.
How to make a chocolate snack 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!
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 (144g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (106g) (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1-1/3 cups coffee or water, at room-temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp 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 pure vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
optional: sprinkles⁴ or nonpareils, for decorating
for the chocolate snack cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 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 🙂