Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lightened-up vegan chocolate layer cake for one

healthy sugar-free vegan chocolate layer cake for one

I know you’re probably thoroughly confused by now and wonder what the ever-loving fuck possessed me, Baby June, the queen of carbs, to make a LIGHTENED-UP cake. But you’ve got to listen. There is a brief and non-painful story behind this. Hear me out.

See, my aunt—who has enjoyed one of my special cakes in the past—is a bit of a “health” nut (health being a subjective term here) and seems to be lurching a little further down the path of extremism each time we see her. Note that her family has now moved in-state and we have increasingly few excuses to not have food-related gatherings. Or gatherings in general.

This is a bit of a struggle for me, ever the opinionated bitch, because the nonsense she flings at us (my mom, mostly, who is somewhat of a vulnerable soul) makes my blood boil to the point where you might be able to make a nice caramel out of it. Recently she recommended a particularly angering book called The Microbiome Diet. Which not only purported to know the contents of an “ideal” microbiome but also how to obtain this...a process involving the elimination of dairy, added and natural sugars, meat (except super-lean chicken breast, I presume), and most other foods people tend to enjoy. Basically anything other than chia seeds and hemp.

hemp plant leaf
Health nuts may not like baking, but they do love getting baked. source

And then there is, of course, the fact that her main source of information on anything is

picard facepalm
That's scientific rigor for you. source

So naturally I was thrilled when it was decided we would head over to her family’s brand new McMansion for Thanksgiving.

But the mere fact of visiting them wasn’t what trouble me. I wondered—what dessert can I make for a family that doesn’t eat sugar, gluten, dairy, or most other ingredients I normally work with? Not to mention, another relative with diabetes would likely appreciate a low-sugar dessert as well.

I’m still not quite sure, but in the end I decided it would be helpful to buy some sugar-free sugar. See, it’s fairly tricky to make desserts that are naturally low in sugar—you usually end up with a disappointing and far-too-fruity concoction that tastes more like self-hatred than indulgence (people please that’s just my opinion don’t hate me). That is why trekked over to the Whole Foods across the street (again) and bought a little bag of a granulated sugar alcohol otherwise known as erythritol using eight dollars of my own hard-earned (LOL) money.

(You can see I’m addicted to parentheticals.)

While I’m not the most experienced dealing with sugar substitutes, I’ve heard some good things about erythritol. One blogger, Foodie Fiasco, often uses it in her cookies, cakes, and other desserts with much success; surely I would be able to create the same healthifying effect without sacrificing the sweet, sweet flavor of a traditional dessert.

And my god. I got lucky.

healthy sugar-free vegan chocolate layer cake for one

As a way of testing out the sugar, I whipped up a miniscule batch of my favorite chocolate cake and sliced it up a la one of The Pancake Princess’ brilliant creations, viewable here.

Three times, actually. First time included white whole wheat flour, applesauce, and erythritol, which made for a not-so-tasty cake but one that still blew my mind with the sheer fact that THIS WAS SUGAR-FREE. But how? My taste buds didn’t know what to think.

So I made it again with olive oil instead of applesauce. Still not-so-great. The third time, which you see pictured here, was perfect. I swear. Using all-purpose flour instead of white whole wheat and flavor-neutral pumpkin puree instead of applesauce made all the difference in the world. Sure, it’s not the same as the buttery, rich cake I’m used to, but it was still worthy of a late-night snack or a decadent breakfast no matter what diet you’re on.

Especially with that coconut yogurt (or other nondairy milk-based yogurt) frosting. Slightly tart, creamy, mousse-like. Definitely necessary.

Call me an erythritol convert. Here’s the recipe.


Lightened-up vegan chocolate layer cake for one


Cake batter (adapted from my favorite chocolate cake)

48 grams • all-purpose flour • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons

50 grams • granulated erythritol • ¼ cup

3 grams • Dutch-processed cocoa powder • 2 teaspoons

1 gram • baking soda • ¼ scant teaspoon

Pinch salt

15 grams • pumpkin puree • 1 ½ tablespoons

3 grams • apple cider vinegar • ½ teaspoon

2 grams • vanilla extract • ½ teaspoon

60 grams • cold water • ¼ cup

20 grams • chocolate chips • 2 tablespoons


60 grams • nondairy yogurt • ¼ cup

24 grams • granulated erythritol • 2 tablespoons

5 grams • cocoa powder • 1 tablespoon


Preheat oven (I used a toaster oven) to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment (or if you have one, try a 6-inch pan).

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, stevia, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add applesauce, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and water; stir gently to combine, making sure no lumps are remaining.

Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on top of batter. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

To make frosting, simply whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Set aside while you prepare cake.

Place cooled cake on a cutting board and slice into six equal pieces. Stack on top of each other, slathering some frosting in between, and frost the top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Munch.


healthy sugar-free vegan chocolate layer cake for one
I bumped the table while taking pictures. #whatever

I know the pictures here aren’t that great, not nearly as perfect as The Pancake Princess’, but you’ve got to trust me on this one: sugar-free cake can actually be great. Even if it falls over and the frosting looks kinda disturbing all piled up on top like so and maybe the cake won’t stand up straight the way you want it to. Not everything worth eating is photogenic, that much I’ve learned.

Oh, and in other news: one of my posts was featured on Finding Vegan’s Facebook page! You know what that means? Pageviews. Pageviews everywhere. More than 3,000 on that single post, in fact. Find out which one it was here (so sneaky LOL). 


  1. Tablebump-photo!
    This looks good! And I am so sorry your auntie was giving you a hard time. I used to be on a low-carb and low-fat "diet", and it didn't work for me, and gave me more grief than goodness, everything in moderation I say! BUT, I do like to be able to healthify cakes and bakes generally - so that I can almost feel good about having them on say....a Tuesday or something...for breakfast, preferably.

    I use non-sugar sugar too! And I always tell my flatmate who has type 2 diabetes whenever I have made a healthier treat and we share some :) xylitol works a treat! But in Norway they have something even better - Sukrin Gold, which is much like erythirol BUT it has this wonderful caramelesque flavour, which is even better than brown sugar (I jest not). This little cake looks delicious :D And if you want it a little bit fluffy, you can add a little bit of coconut oil in the cake-batter, I did that recently and it really really worked :D

    Cannot wait to see your next creations :D x

    1. Thanks! Sukrin gold sounds good, I shall have to look for it next time I need a sugar-free sugar. Honestly I had no idea what to buy and the little bag of erythritol was the only thing I could afford--brought about ten dollars, and everything seemed to be at least that at Whole Foods :P But maybe next time!

  2. I think the table bumped photo looks very artsy. Feeling a little out of the loop, I have no idea what non-sugar sugar is. What?! What is that?! Is it any good? I don't have any health nut friends to tell me these things, we are all fatties that survive on the bad stuff. Eep.

    Looks good though. I am a little more than hungry looking at these pictures...

    1. Glad you like the cake! I'm not sure what kind of stuff they have over there in the UK (I think? correct me if I'm wrong) but you could basically use any zero calorie sugar that's good for baking, like stevia or brands like sweet 'n' low. Or you could use regular sugar. Either one! :D

  3. ugh. I don't think my last comment got posted. Let's give this another try. I would have never guessed that the table bump picture was an accident. It's beautifully spread out on the plate! I think you and I have some of the same relatives and kudos to you for accommodating picky healthy fanatic people! This cake looks unbelievable delicious! I wouldn't have guessed it was lightened up! Thanks for bringing it over to the Sunday's Recipe Wrap-up Link Party!

    1. Thanks so much! That last shot was lucky, when things fall apart for me they usually do so in a really ugly and messy way :)