Chocolate Layer Cake {healthier}


5 from 2 reviews

The Best Chocolate Layer Cake that just so happens to be made with whole grains and dairy-free friendly. Made healthier* using less sugar and oil compared to a traditional chocolate cake recipe, but no one will know the difference!



Dry Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar* (coconut or cane both work)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (or milk of choice)
  • 3/4 cup hot strong coffee (or hot water)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or shortening, softened (plant-based works here)
  • 3/4 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar*
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and line two round 9″ baking pans with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, maple syrup, vanilla and granulated sugar. Whisk until sugar has just about dissolved, then slowly stir in milk. 
  4. Begin to add dry ingredients into large bowl of wet ingredients, whisking until almost combined. Then stir in hot coffee. Note: The batter will be very thin, this is correct. Evenly distribute cake batter into two lined pans and place on middle rack. Bake cakes for 18-24 minutes. I checked my cakes at 18 minutes and they were done at 20. Every oven is different so just be sure to watch. Cakes are done when inserted toothpick into the center of cakes comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely, about 45 minutes before inverting onto wire racks and peeling off parchment paper.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using electric mixer (or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), beat together butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add cocoa powder and begin to mix on low speed while adding a couple of tablespoons of the milk. With the mixer running on low speed, add in powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, adding in the milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency of frosting is reached. Once you’ve added all of the powdered sugar, beat the frosting on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  6. Frost the layered cake: Spread a couple of tablespoons of frosting at base of cake plate or cake stand (this will help hold the cake in place). Place one cake upside down onto the frosting. Spread an even layer of frosting on top of layer, about 1/2″ thick. Top other cake onto frosting (you can place layer upside down or bottom side down and shave off any extra round height from top if you’d like) and frost rest of cake. I’ve been using an off-set spatula for frosting cakes and love it. 
  7. Chill cake in fridge for at least one hour before slicing. This cake can also be made a day in advance!


*Use coconut or date sugar for an unrefined granulated sugar option. 

*You can also make powdered sugar with coconut sugar by combining 1 cup coconut sugar with 1 TBSP arrowroot and processing in a blender until super fine.

If looking for a plain dairy-free chocolate frosting, double this recipe – only use as much milk is needed for desired consistency.

Cake can likely be made in a 9×13 pan though I haven’t tried this yet myself. Bake at 350ºF and watch baking time after 25 minutes. Checking every few minutes until inserted toothpick into the center of cake comes out clean.

Cake recipe adapted from: Ina Garten


Keywords: chocolate cake from scratch, healthy chocolate cake, chocolate layer cake