Healthy Chocolate Coconut Cake
This Chocolate Coconut Cake is super fluffy, supremely chocolatey, and speckled with shredded coconut throughout. It seriously doesn’t taste like it’s low in sugar, high in protein, or gluten free whatsoever!
This Healthy Chocolate Coconut Cake was a looooong time coming. I first posted this recipe WAY back in 2011. Yes, 2011! Even then, it took 4 trials to perfect. While I proudly posted the recipe and kept it up all these years, there was always something nagging me about it — it called for way too many ingredients and required far too many steps to make. I went back to the drawing board to try and make it simpler and easier for y’all.
And boy, am I glad I did. I thought the cake was good back then, but now it’s GREAT.
These are the changes I made to the recipe:
- Increased Unflavored Whey Protein Powder, ½ cup to ⅔ cup
- Increased Applesauce, ½ cup to ¾ cup
- Increased Stevia Extract, 1¼ tsp to 2 tsp
- Increased Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp to 1 tbs
- Replaced 1¼ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour with ⅔ cup Sorghum Flour + ½ cup Oat Flour
- Replaced Sucanat with Granulated Erythritol
- Replaced 85g pureed Tofu with 3 Eggs
- Replaced 1 tsp Coconut Extract with ½ cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- Omitted 3 tbs Honey
- Omitted 3 tbs Arrowroot Starch
Yeah. I altered the recipe quite a bit, but it’s all for the better.
You know when you’re making a Chocolate Cake and the batter seems absolutely perfect? It’s thick, but smooth and pours into the pan like warm ganache. As you gently push the pan onto the oven rack, you think, “Oh, this is gonna taste amazing!”
If you’re like me, you peer through the oven window every 5 minutes like clockwork and smile as you see it rising. When the toothpick comes out clean and the cake has cooled, it’s finally time for the taste test. For those of you who develop your own recipes or alter others’ recipes drastically, you know the anxiety that comes along with the first bite… as more often than not, you taste the saddening first bites of an experiment gone wrong. This cake? This cake was one of them. In total, this recipe took 6 trials to perfect. *wipes brow*
Let’s go through the trial results, shall we?
This cake was far too airy and dry. It’s hard to explain, but it was like a slice of bread that was left out overnight. The texture was terrible and it tasted really bitter. Due to my fervent need to lower the sugar levels in all of the recipes I make, I lowered this one a little too much. The original recipe called for a whopping 1½ cups of sugar, which I reduced to a measly ¼ cup of Sucanat. I knew beforehand that I lowered the sugar level by a lot, so I added ¼ tsp of stevia extract, which was clearly not enough. I replaced the regular cocoa powder with dark cocoa powder, used whole wheat pastry flour instead of bleached all purpose flour, and coconut oil + applesauce instead of butter. I used canned coconut milk in the recipe but it didn’t seem to provide any flavor or moisture. After sampling that slice of cake, I was so ready for the next trial.
Since the 1st trial was too airy and dry, I researched some healthy ingredients that can add moisture to baked goods. Tofu was one of them. I blended up 85g silken tofu and added that to the recipe. I also doubled the stevia extract from ¼ tsp to ½ tsp, and added a ½ tsp of coconut extract to enhance the coconut flavor (or, lack-thereof from the 1st trial). This cake was still a little on the dry side, but was at least a tad bit sweeter and more flavorful! It was better, but still not something I’d be proud of serving to friends and family.
I increased both the stevia extract and coconut extract to ¾ tsp, as well as the tofu to 170g. My dad wanted a treat with some protein in it, so I replaced some of the whole wheat pastry flour with protein powder. Once again, the cake turned out dry, but the flavor was improving!
Mmmm! Finally, a cake that I can share with loved ones with my head held high! This cake is much, much better than the previous trials — more dense, more moist, more sweet, and more chocolatey!
In an attempt to make Trial #4’s recipe a little easier to make with fewer ingredients and less steps (and also make it gluten-free because I was out of whole wheat pastry flour), I replaced the 1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour with ¾ cup sweet white sorghum flour + ½ cup oat flour. I replaced the tofu with an egg, omitted the honey and increased the stevia extract to 2 tsp, used erythritol instead of sucanat, increased the vanilla extract from 1 tsp to 2 tsp. I used the same brand of coconut extract in this trial as I did way back in 2011 in the 4th trial, however, it seems as if they changed their product’s recipe because it did NOT taste anything like coconut. It tasted like straight up coconut alcohol. My first taste tester thought it was a boozy cake, that’s how strong it was. The cake also turned out dry. Back to the drawing board, once again!
I reduced the sweet white sorghum flour from ¾ cup to ⅔ cup, omitted the starch, increased the applesauce from ½ cup to ¾ cup, increased the vanilla extract from 2 tsp to 1 tbs, added 2 more eggs, and replaced that terrible coconut extract with ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut. This cake, mah peeps, this cake is PURELY DELICIOUS. It’s not only light and fluffy, but it’s moist too! It’s chocolatey and coconutty and sweet all at the same time. You better slice a big ol’ slice for yourself, because this is not a cake to miss out on. This cake required a little too much trial and error for my liking, but in the end, it was so, so worth it! 🙂
Healthy Chocolate Coconut Cake
- 91g (⅔ cup) Sweet White Sorghum Flour
- 64g (⅔ cup) Unflavored Whey Protein Powder
- 60g (½ cup) Oat Flour
- 45g (½ cup) Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Double-Acting Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 1 cup Organic 2% Milk (or canned Light Coconut Milk)
- 185g (¾ cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
- 48g (¼ cup) Granulated Erythritol
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 tbs Vanilla Extract
- 2 tsp Liquid Stevia Extract
- 4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (melted)
- 42g (3 tbs) Coconut Oil (melted)
- ½ cup Boiling Water
- 60g (¾ cup) Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 8" cake pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper circles.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, protein powder, oat flour, shredded coconut, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, add the milk, applesauce, erythritol, eggs, vanilla extract, and stevia extract. Mix on low speed.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the chocolate and melted coconut oil. Add the boiled water and cocoa powder and whisk until smooth (it should look like ganache). With the mixer running on low speed, slowly scoop this mixture into the mixer.
- Dump the dry ingredients in the stand mixer and let mix until just mixed through. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix one last time.
- Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for ~30 minutes, or until the surface of the cakes spring back when tapped. Let cool completely, then frost and serve!
This label is for realz peeps. Only 260 calories and 7g of sugar, plus 5g of fiber and 10g of protein. In a CAKE. As a comparison, the same serving size of a typical Chocolate Coconut Cake (without frosting) will have around 400+ calories, 16g fat, and 26+g sugar. Um, no thank you.
We can indulge in this Healthy Chocolate Coconut Cake instead. Would you believe me if I told you this is healthy enough for breakfast? Oh yes, I’m serious.
It’s got oats, so it’s basically like a morning bowl of oatmeal 😉
It’s got protein powder, like a breakfast smoothie!
It’s got applesauce and coconut, so you’re getting in some fruit.
It’s got chocolate, so, you know, antioxidants!
The list goes on, but I’ll cut it short there… I guess what I’m trying to say is, you just can’t miss out on this chocolatey goodness!
With love and good eats,
Hi Jessica! This cake sounds awesome, I’ll have to give it a try. ^_^ You can probably add more coconut oil to it or add an extra egg to make it more dense. Seriously, this is my new favorite blog!
Oh my gosh, this makes me want to cry i want it so bad!! (<--ahh thats horrible!) Wanna send me a slice 😉 LOL
Maybe if you baked it in a muffin tin and renamed it a breakfast food, the airiness would seem appropriate and wouldn’t bother you. Either way, it does look delicious! Thanks for sharing.
This looks amazing! It reminds me of a brownies. I’m so happy that I found your blog
Wow, you put so much effort into finding the best recipe, that is awesome! This cake looks amazingly beautiful, it’s hard to believe it’s got such an awesome ingredients list.
Looks delicious! Even if it is a bit airy for your tastes, it looks like a winner!
Yeah, next time I’ll bake it in a muffin tin and maybe add a flax egg… thanks for helping R.C. and Carissa!
Um, drool? I want it!
Justr a general question… when you substitute in whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, do you need to add more liquids? For some reason I feel like whole wheat flour would absorb the liquids more.
Don’t despair! A brilliant recipe takes plenty of trial and error. That is, unless if you can see the future. (: I think the cake looks good enough!
ps: i have a fervent need to lower sugar levels too! 😀
When you use whole wheat flour instead of AP flour, the end product is more dense, dryer and harder–that’s why certain recipes ask for sifting–you may need to add more oil or applesauce to achieve the moisture level you want, but only by a tbs or two, depending on the recipe. Hope that helps!
Hannah @ Bake Five,
I know! Don’t you just hate the crash you get after eating a lot of sugar? I’m glad I’m not alone haha.
Yum! We’d love for you to share this over at dishfolio.com!
jessica, this looks amazing! i want cake for breakfast!!!!!
Ahhh, it looks so good. I can’t wait to bake everything on you blog over winter break once the semester ends. …Which reminds me, would you ever post how to make a healthy gingerbread (for say, a gingerbread house)?
I’m all for having cake for breakfast, if said cake is healthy and good for me. This one surely qualifies! It’s gorgeous and looks absolutely scrumptious. I think I won’t have a choice but give this one a go, else I’ll obsess over it for the rest of my days!?
Is the whey protein concentrate really needed or could I leave it out?
I would deem it necessary because I find that protein powders add structure to the cake. You can probably use any protein powder (like the ones you mix in drinks) but I haven’t tried that yet. You can buy a single bag of the protein powder I used online if you don’t want too much lying around. Here’s a link where you can buy a case of 4 or 1 single bag: http://www.bobsredmill.com/whey_protein-concentrate.html
this cake looks tremendously delicious! I wish I could grab it out of my computer screen 😉
I also like the general idea of your blog – which I just discovered by the way – so I will definitely follow and try out some of your recipes!
maybe you want to come visit: http://www.homesweetbakery.blogspot.com
PS: I love your blog, and I really like the name 🙂
Looks really good! I always love to try different kinds of chocolate cakes and this one never disappoints me.
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Jessica this is the HEALTHIEST chocolate cake I have ever tricked normal people with! No one suspected that this cake was ANYTHING but rich and decadent. Thank you thank you!
YAYY!!! I’m so glad you and your friends like the recipe, that makes me so happy 🙂
Looks divine sweetie.
I love how you went through all the trials to show how difficult and strategic it can be to redo a dessert recipe into a healthier one. So neat to read how you went through that process! And, as always, your photography makes this cake look FABULOUS
Awwww thanks Kaylin! You da best! 🙂
Now call me crazy, but I’d have this cake for breakfast! Thank you for sharing your trials and experiments with this cake recipe. I bet that this tastes wonderful! Do you have any vegan substitutions for the whey protein and eggs?
Thanks Cassie! 🙂
The whey protein and eggs are crucial ingredients here as they help with texture and overall lift.
Any substitution for the applesauce?
You can use another fruit puree in place of the applesauce, like pear sauce. I think pure pumpkin puree MIGHT work, but you’ll probably need to use 1 cup since pumpkin puree contains less water than applesauce.
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I hate to be the one to break it to you, this isn’t cake !!!!
Not sure what you mean… this is definitely a cake lol
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Looks delicious! Have to try it! What can I use instead of whey protein?
Thanks! The protein powder is a crucial ingredient so you can’t replace it.
Hi Jessica, I’m going to make this cake for my friends birthday. My first ever cake I’m going to bake😀. I don’t have 8″ cake pans. Can I use 9″ instead? Do I have to then modify cooking time also?
I think you can use 9″ cake pans just fine, but the baking time will vary. You’ll probably need a few minutes less, so keep an eye on it in the oven. The cake layers will definitely be thinner than pictured, but it’ll be just as tasty 🙂