• Sarah Cohan

A Very Happy Vegan Chocolate Birthday (Cake)

Updated: Aug 6

You know how sometimes you see a recipe that looks decent, and everywhere you read it everyone says it’s amazing, but it looks so simple and it doesn’t have any butter or any eggs or any milk so you think, “Really guys? Come on. Can it really be THAT good?"

Well, I’m here to tell you that I have freakishly high standards, and yes - vegan cake can be just as good as cake loaded with dairy and eggs. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because of the small amount of vinegar that acts as a tenderizer? Because I used high quality cocoa? Too many questions, too little time to answer them - must eat cake instead.

This is not a recipe you should use for a layer cake - it’s super moist and tender, and won’t be sturdy enough to handle outside of a pan unless it’s going straight on a plate and/or straight into your mouth. And you should play around with the toppings - I did a quick and easy ganache here, but you could totally do a flavored “buttercream" with dairy-free margarine (I prefer Fleischmann’s brand), or a whipped coconut milk frosting. Or a jam + chocolate glaze! The possibilities are endless - have fun with it.

Happy Baking!

Adapted from

MAKES one 8x8 or similarly sized sheet cake


  • 1.25c all-purpose flour (150g)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)

  • 1/3 cup cocoa* (30g)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup warm coffee (or 1 teaspoon espresso powder mixed into 1 cup hot water)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/3 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil

  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (just under 1.5 cups chopped)

  • 1/3 cup non-dairy creamer (e.g. So Delicious coconut creamer)

  • Baking spray

  • 8x8 baking pan, preferably glass**

*The tastiness of your cake will be directly correlated with the quality of cocoa you use. If you use Hershey’s your cake will be tasty, if you use Ghirardelli or the like your cake will be tastier, and if you use - in my opinion - King Arthur’s Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa (20g) and Black Cocoa (10g) your cake will be tastiest.

**I actually used a weirdly sized glass dish that came in a tupperware set - I think it was something like 10x7 - the batter ended up being a little shallower than it would have in an 8x8, so it took about 2 minutes less to bake. I highly recommend using glass for this recipe if you can, as you’ll be cutting pieces straight from the pan, and taking a knife to a metal pan is never a good idea.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.

  2. Whisk your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If there are still clumps of cocoa floating around try to pinch them with your fingers to break them up. Make a little hole/well in the middle of your dry ingredients.

  3. Whisk your wet ingredients together in a 2-cup measuring cup (if you heat the water for your coffee in a pyrex cup you can just add everything else to that).

  4. Pour the wet mixture into the well of the dry ingredients, then mix it together gently with a spatula, scraping the sides and folding, until there are no traces of dry ingredients left.

  5. Spray your pan lightly, then pour in your batter smoothing the top even with an offset spatula, and sprinkling the chocolate chips evenly across the top.

  6. Start checking at 25 minutes - cake is done when the middle springs back when gently pressed; it may take up to 30 minutes depending on your oven. When done, let cool completely on a cooling rack.

  7. While the cake bakes, heat your chocolate in the microwave 30-60 seconds (no more), until it looks like its starting to melt at the bottom of the bowl. Then heat the creamer ~30 seconds until steaming, but not boiling.

  8. Pour the creamer over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then gently fold together until completely combined. Set aside to cool.

  9. Once the cake and frosting are both completely cooled, spread the frosting onto the cake, and garnish with rainbow sprinkles for a traditional birthday finish.

If serving within 24 hours, keep covered at room temperature. If longer, or for storing leftovers, keep covered in the fridge and let come to room temperature before serving.

#chocolate #cake #vegan #eggfree #dairyfree #birthday #recipe


custom desserts

boston, massachusetts

© 2014 by Sarah Cohan