Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Layer Cake

gluten-free dark chocolate cake with dairy-free fudge frosting on a white ceramic stand

I was ecstatic when I found this recipe for a dark chocolate cake covered in chocolate fudge frosting and filled with dairy-free caramel in Laurel Galluci and Claire Thomas’s cookbook, Sweet Laurel. I made the cake, and fed it to my family, who liked it, okay.

The problem (if you want to call it that) is that this lovely cake does not taste as sweet as the sugar-filled cakes most of us are used to eating. Yes, the texture is the same as most cakes, and it’s full of rich, chocolate flavor, but this cake is about half as sweet as most bakery cakes. My family eventually came around to enjoying eating this cake (which is delicious!), but they had to change their expectations of what chocolate cake ought to taste like.

The sweetener used in this recipe is maple syrup, an unrefined, natural sweetener. Maple syrup is more nutritious and has a slightly lower glycemic index than table sugar.  The recipes in Sweet Laurel use moderate amounts of maple syrup, and as a result are not as sweet as the cookies and cakes most of us are used to eating, which are overloaded with sugar.

You can pile an inch of the maple-syrup-flavored fudge frosting on top of this cake, but it will never taste as sickly sweet as the commercial frosting heaped on rainbow-colored supermarket cupcakes. It may take a little while to get used to eating less-sweet desserts, but it’s worth it. Sugar isn’t good for anyone.

When you’re trying to reduce sugar in baked goods, it’s important to use high quality ingredients. I like Scharfenberger unsweetened baking chocolate, but it’s expensive. I often use Baker’s organic baking chocolate or Dagoba (owned by Hershey) which taste almost as good as Scharfenberger. If you’d like a sweeter dessert, without increasing the glycemic index, add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid stevia to the frosting and to the cake batter.

The original recipe calls for almond flour, but I rarely bake with almond flour because one of my children is allergic to almonds. Other nut flours can be hard to find and expensive. I make my own nut flours out of the nut meal I save from making nut milks. Hazelnut flour is my favorite nut flour, but commercial brands of hazelnut flour are costly.

This recipe makes one thick cake or two thin 9-inch layers. If you make a single layer, you’ll need to increase the baking time by a few minutes. The cakes are done when they pull away from the edges of the pan.

I bake layer cakes only in springform pans. I spent years digging layer cakes out of regular pans but that nightmare ended when I discovered springform pans. If you plan to make only one layer cake in your entire lifetime, do yourself a favor and purchase an inexpensive set of springform pans.

Springhouse Turtle Eats

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Layer Cake

By Springhouse Turtle Serves: 8-12
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 55 minutes

Rich chocolate cake filled with caramel sauce and smothered in chocolate fudge frosting sounds merciless, but there's no refined sugar in this scrumptious layer cake.


  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid stevia (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups nut flour (I use almond or hazelnut)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Dairy-Free Chocolate Fudge Frosting (on
  • 1 cup Dairy-Free Cashew Butter Caramel Sauce (on



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Grease two 9-inch springform pans with vegetable shortening or dairy-free butter.


In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and stevia (if using) together.


In a medium bowl, whisk the cacao powder, baking soda, and salt into the nut flour.


Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture to make a batter. Do not overmix.


Pour the batter into the prepared pans.


Bake the layers for 25 minutes, until the edges of the cakes pull away from the sides of the pans.


Let the layers cool for a few minutes, remove them from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


Place one layer on a serving dish, and spread half the caramel over the top, allowing any extra caramel to drip down the sides.


Place the second layer on top of the bottom layer and spread the other half of the caramel sauce over the top.


Refrigerate the cake for a few minutes to let the caramel set.


Remove from the refrigerator and frost the top and sides of the cake with fudge frosting.


Return the cake to the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Start by greasing a springform pan or two with vegetable shortening or dairy-free butter.

springform pan greased with vegetable shortening

Mix up the cake batter and pour it into the prepared pans. The layers will be quite thin.

dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate cake batter in springform pans

When done, the layers will pull away from the sides of the pans.

baked gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cake in springform pans

Remove the sides of the springform pans first. Then carefully remove the bottoms of the pans. You may have to use a spatula to loosen the edges of the layers so they come off easily.

baked chocolate gluten-free, dairy-free cake with side of springform pan removed

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate cake cooling on a whire rack

Place one layer of the cake on a serving dish, and spread caramel sauce over the top.

layer of dairy-free gluten-free chocolate cake on ceramic stand with caremel filling on top

Add the second layer, and spread more caramel sauce over the top.

gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cake on a cake stand with caramel sauce on top

Refrigerate for a few minutes to allow the caramel to set. Finish the cake with fudge frosting spread over the top and sides.

gluten-free dark chocolate cake with dairy-free fudge frosting on a white ceramic stand

Springhouse Turtle Eats


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