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Gluten-free Chocolate Quinoa Cake

By JulieVR |

See this cake? It’s rich and dense and gluten-free, made with quinoa. I’ve been hearing about the recipe – a unique one in that it’s not made with quinoa flour, which is how I’ve incorporated quinoa into baked goods in the past – it’s made with actual cooked quinoa, whizzed with eggs and sugar in a blender to make a base for the batter. The result? An amazing chocolate cake with better structure than other gluten-free cakes I’ve tried – all thanks to quinoa. How genius is that?

It’s from this new book called Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood. Written by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, it covers all things quinoa – an introduction, a get-to-know-you, and tons of recipes. Far beyond grainy salads, they use quinoa in crazy creative ways – case in point: this chocolate cake.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), treated as a grain but actually the seed of a plant related to spinach and beets, is an ingredient you should get to know if you don’t already. Nutritionally, the biggest thing to note about quinoa is that it contains a complete set of amino acids, making the grain (sorry-seed) a complete protein on its own. In the kitchen, it’s important to remember to rinse quinoa before cooking – not for the same reason you might wash rice, but because it has a bitter coating – a natural insect repellant – that’s not harmful but doesn’t taste great. Rinse it well in a sieve and you’re good to go.

And just look at it. This cake? It tastes every bit as good as it looks. It may just become our new staple cake, gluten-free or not.

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Not only does this cake contain no wheat, it contains no flour – made with cooked quinoa (rather than quinoa flour), it has a dense, moist texture and intense chocolate flavour. Excerpted from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming (Whitecap)

2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until smooth.

Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month. Serves 8-16.

About the Book:

Quinoa 365, the Everyday Superfood By Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming is the first definitive cookbook featuring this new gluten-free superfood, with a host of delicious recipes to enhance everyday cooking with superior nutritional value.

One of the world’s healthiest foods, quinoa contains a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, and is a great source of protein, making it an increasingly popular food choice for those looking to incorporate superfoods into their everyday diets. Gluten-free, wheat-free, and nutrient-packed, quinoa is ideal for those who are health-conscious, vegetarian, or physically active, as well as for those with gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, and other digestive disorders. But that’s not all; you can eat quinoa guiltlessly knowing it’s free of cholesterol and trans fats, contains natural antioxidants, and is a source of vitamin E, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium. In Quinoa 365 sisters Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming show you how to use this miraculous superfood in all your favorite dishes.

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About JulieVR

julievr

JulieVR

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of five best-selling cookbooks, food editor of Parents Canada magazine, a CBC Radio columnist and a freelance writer. Her award-winning blog, Dinner with Julie documents life in her home kitchen in Canada with her husband and 7-year-old son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Julie's latest posts →

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41 thoughts on “Gluten-free Chocolate Quinoa Cake

  1. [...] But – I do have a post going up that tells all about this chocolate quinoa cake. It’s brilliant. It’s not made with quinoa flour, but actual cooked quinoa, whizzed into a batter with sugar and eggs and cocoa and flour, then baked into this rich, dark cake that has a texture better than any gluten-free cake I’ve tried (admittedly I’m not a gluten free expert, but I do know what good cake tastes like, and this is it). Just look at it! It tastes as good as it looks. I posted the recipe over at Family Kitchen. [...]

  2. Natasha says:

    Do you have a recipe for the frosting? It looks amazing!

  3. chi chi says:

    Wow, interesting! And it didn’t affect the texture at all? I am not gluten-free but I think I may try this one. We are coffee freaks though, I will probably add in some espresso powder and brewed coffee…oooooh yummy!

  4. Andrea C says:

    Julie, do you have to use melted butter (for flavor or texture or both)? or could you sub in canola oil instead and not ruin the cake? Thx A

  5. Robyn In Mountain says:

    Hey, Julie! I love the idea of using quinoa. Would really appreciate the frosting recipe too. This looks like a keeper.

  6. JulieVR says:

    Andrea – my thoughts exactly! I was going to sub canola oil for part or all of the butter, but thought I’d do it her way first. Generally when a liquid fat like melted butter is called for, you can totally swap oil. Of course there is a flavour difference, but I use canola oil in all of my regular chocolate cakes and it’s wonderfully moist and I don’t miss the butter. I’d try it – that’s what I’m doing next time, too!

  7. Micaela says:

    whoa! beautiful, just beautiful.

  8. [...] a link to the recipe, which comes from a book that was already on my wish list but has just been bumped to the top: [...]

  9. Adria says:

    I made this cake yesterday. I loved that I had all the ingredients on hand. I followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out great. I frosted ours with a strawberry cream cheese frosting. Yum! Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  10. Hettar7 says:

    I’ve only recently discovered Quinoa. And I have to say I really like it. I hadn’t thought about using it in a cake, but hey, i’m game. And I’d seen the book before, but didn’t know it had something as interesting as this in it. I’ve just added it to my Amazon Wishlist. Woo Hoo.

  11. shannon says:

    this was awesome! thanks! :)

  12. Lauren says:

    I made this cake last week and my boyfriend and I ate it all in a few days. Since finding out I’m GF, I’ve been looking for a good Choc Cake Recipe – this is it! AMAZING!!!

  13. Jeffery says:

    I made this cake I used buttermilk instead of regular milk, buttermilk works better with chocolate cake recipes. It was totally awesome, very delicious, very moist, very rich, very easy.

  14. JulieVR says:

    Good tip! I generally use buttermilk in chocolate cake recipes too. Yum.

  15. Lauren says:

    This is the MOST AMAZING cake that I have ever had. I am GF (but still remember what normal cake takes like). And just to prove it was the best, I served it to several of people who are not GF (and they had no idea I made it with quinoa) and they also said it was the best cake they ever had! Love this recipe and I’m making it again and again!

  16. Lili says:

    This is one book I’ll be buying for gifts. I love quinoa cold with walnuts and a tablespoon of maple syrup…soooo goood.

  17. jen says:

    I love this recipe too!!! The first time I made it, I followed the recipe exactly (‘though I halfed it). This last time, I tried to make a slightly healthier version and I used substituted half plain yogourt and half vegetable oil for the butter. I also cut the sugar a bit. The cake wasn’t quite as decadent, but it was still moist and good! I keep cooked quinoa in the fridge which makes this recipe so very quick and easy to make.

    Anyone else try any other substitutions?

  18. Jan brummitt says:

    This cake looks great to make for my gluten free friends! I’d also love to have the icing recipe.
    But my question to Julie is – if I use a Kitchen Aid mixer instead of the blender or food processor called for, will that work, or does the cooked Quinoa in the batter need to be chopped up and smoothed out somewhat?

  19. dpn says:

    geez. made this cake for a friend who’s diet is gluten-free. thought the idea was novel. never made gluten free people but avid baker. not sure what happened or if your “standard” is different but mine turned out horrible. too “wet” and chalky. literraly!

  20. JulieVR says:

    DPN – that’s too bad! I’ve heard from a ton of people who have made this, and they all gave rave reviews! I’ve made it a handful of times too, and it has worked out every time. Perhaps your oven is too cool?

  21. Linda says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. This is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve EVER had – including fully sugared, fully floured ones! I used Whey Low sweetener, added a little extra milk and 1 teaspoon coffee crystals. (And leftover quinoa.) Worked great. This will be my go-to recipe – even for company!!

  22. Sugar Sprinkled says:

    Thank-you! That is all. Just thank-you. Its been EONS since I’ve been able to have cake! And chocolate no less! I followed Linda’s idea, using Whey Low for a sugar free, slice of chocolate heaven. I’m going to bed now, completely happy and satisfied.

  23. Sugar Sprinkled says:

    btw.. no chalk, not too wet! Just right. My standards are HIGH. I learned to bake scratch cakes from my grandma… from knee high. Suddenly, I could not eat my own creations! Now I can. Thanks again!

  24. Rachel says:

    What frosting recipe did yo use? It looks delish!

  25. wheat free cakes says:

    Hello,
    Thank you for your nice Information. I like it very much. I will try it at my home.

  26. Carla says:

    Does anyone have ideas how this could be made without the baking powder and baking soda. Quinoa can be used for Passover and if I can make the cake without the leavening it will be a fantastic dessert for Passover.
    Thanks

  27. Jodi Williams says:

    Great recipe…even with my big ole screw up! (I melted our butter substitute in the microwave, and didn’t notice until our stuff was in the oven!) Oops! So instead of 2 round cake layers, I made 36 mini cupcakes and 6 regular sized ones, and an 11X7 pretty thin cake. Came out more like brownie bites, but still got gobbled right up! (Added some mini chips to the batter also)

  28. Mama Bear says:

    Carla, you could try separating the eggs, mixing in the yolks as normal & beating the whites separately until almost stiff peaks. Then at the end, fold the whites carefully into the batter. That should provide some leavening without baking soda or baking powder. Is that permissible for Passover? HTH! :)

  29. Ruby Dragaan says:

    Great Cake. Very moist and heavy. We used cream cheese frosting on the top and as a filling.

  30. Lia says:

    This cake is amazing! I made it as cupcakes for my father’s birthday and it turned out perfect and more delicious than any chocolate cake I’ve ever made.

  31. Jenn says:

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I am new to the world of GF. I just made this today as my second attempt at gluten-free baking (the first being from a mix) and this was sooo amazingly delicious. My husband, after tasting it, asked when his birthday was (implying that he couldn’t wait til we had it again) and my 4 year old picky eater (who has a knack for picking out when things contain “weird” ingredients begged for seconds).

  32. Julie says:

    This looks great! Any ideas about turning it into cupcakes? Bake for 25-30 minutes? 24 cupcakes?

  33. Rosanne says:

    This really is THE best chocolate cake I’ve ever had – I’m not GF but I do love to experiment with other more healthful alternatives and quinoa is high on my list! So, previous to this cake, my all time favorite was the Devil’s Food Cake recipe from the back of the old yellow bags of Domino’s sugar. This cake is better! It’s richer and yet not overpoweringly dense. It has a bit of a sponge cake feel almost but that just works for moistness. I made 2 6″ round layer cakes and a mini bundt round with this batter, baking the cakes for 35 minutes and the bundt for 25. I frosted with a 7 minute icing. Delicious and beautiful – I’ll be spreading the word on quinoa chocolate cake! These would hold up beautifully as regular cupcakes and have enough body for Hostess cupcake knockoffs with cream in the center and frosted with a ganache.

  34. Lisa says:

    Ok…fiddling is definitely required to turn these into a decent cupcake! Ours were an “epic fail” but still tasted delicious. Perhaps less heat? They totally deflated in the middle.
    My daughter is enjoying the spoils, though.

  35. Phyllis Galloway says:

    My daughter-in-law makes this cake and says to make two individual cakes to make a layered cake. It is very moist and tastes great.

  36. Mandi says:

    Good cake. My husband really liked it. Very moist, but could taste a bit of the grain which didn’t mix as nice as I’d like. Still very good though. Glad to lower the simple carbs, minus the sugar of course.

  37. Jon says:

    I loved the recipe and was all ready to go, when I realized my cocoa powder was in fact hot cocoa mix! Bummed out, but not defeated, I decided to do a quick search on baking recipes using sweetened cocoa powder or hot chocolate mix. Not an easy task, as there are very little, but I did find some advice to just cut down on the amount of sugar.

    Ended up using the 1 cup of cocoa powder as the recipe indicates, but since this was sweetened, I used half a cup of sugar only. Also added a teaspoon of white vinegar to my milk in order to give it the buttermilk consistency/taste. Used a wee bit less butter than was asked for, but melted it as instructed.

    I had to bake this baby for a bit over an hour!! DIdn’t fall out of the baking pan as expected but tastes ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. This was a win for me! Thank you for your recipe!

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  41. Cait says:

    Has anyone tried to make this cake vegan? Can I use almond milk instead of regular milk and earth balance or oil in place of butter?

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