March 3, 2015

by Alyssa

Vanilla Quinoa Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

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This quinoa cake is a healthy version of traditional vanilla cake. It's the perfect dessert for any celebration + is topped with vegan chocolate frosting.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Quinoa Cake made with a super healthy vegan chocolate frosting

Today is Matt’s birthday and so I baked him a cake.

But not just any old cake. It’s a vanilla quinoa cake smothered in a vegan chocolate frosting and topped with our favorite mini chocolate chips. It’s pretty much my ideal cake – we’ll see what he thinks when he blows out the candles tonight!

Although we’re not big on celebrating birthdays – we never do anything super elaborate – it’s always nice to feel some extra love on your big day. 

Tonight we’re having a casual dinner at home (as per usual, #biggesthomebodiesever) with mussels cooked in a lemon white wine sauce, some quinoa garlic bread and a massaged kale salad. I’ll grab a bottle of champagne, we’ll snuggle up on the couch and we’ll obviously be eating cake.

Sounds pretty perfect if you ask me!

 Gluten-Free Vanilla Quinoa Cake made with a super healthy vegan chocolate frosting

BUT…as much as a perfect night at home sounds, we pretty much do that every weekend, so I wanted to also surprise him with a fun night out. Tomorrow night he’s leaving work a little early and we’re meeting for drinks at a rooftop bar in Manhattan. We’ll have a cocktail (or two!) then head downstairs to a fabulous meal at Print, which is a farm-to-table restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Their menu sounds divine and I can’t wait to try everything!

After dinner, we’re catching the musical, “On the Town,” which I’ve heard is great. Matt has never been to a broadway show (I know… craziness) so I think it’s the perfect thing for us to do.

And when we get home I’m sure we’ll enjoy some more birthday cake!

Oh this cake…we need to talk about this cake.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Quinoa Cake made with a super healthy vegan chocolate frosting 

I know it probably sounds a little unorthodox to make a cake out of quinoa, but trust me when I say, this cake couldn’t be any more delicious. It’s fluffy, light and tender, and just melts in your mouth.

And the sweetness level? Just perfect. Because you know how sometimes the cakes you buy at the store or make from a mix can knock you over with how sweet they are? Yeah, I really don’t like that, so my goal with this recipe was to give you one that wouldn’t sky rocket your blood sugar, but would still taste like a decadent vanilla cake. A true dessert.

My secret? Powdered coconut sugar! (which I make in my Blentec but just grinding up the coconut sugar)

I love using coconut sugar as a sweetener because it’s low glycemic, but also has a dark, almost caramel flavor to it. So you get the sweetness, but you get a richness also that would be hard to replicate with the white junk.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Quinoa Cake made with a super healthy vegan chocolate frosting

And finally, we must must MUST discuss this frosting.

In my humble opinion, cakes don’t really need frosting and it’s probably because I loathe the frosting that comes on store bought cakes. As in it’s probably my least favorite food on the entire planet. I think it’s absolutely horrid.

But I think I’m in the minority here on the whole frosting debate, and since it is Matt’s birthday and all a frosting on his quinoa birthday cake totally needed to happen. 

I used a recipe that I’ve made before – it’s for a vegan chocolate frosting and it tastes exactly like the “real thing”, except get this: the frosting is made with…SWEET POTATOES!

Yes, sweet potatoes are our base as they provide the texture, but also some sweetness. With the sweet potatoes, all you add is some maple syrup (or honey), cocoa powder, arrowroot starch and a touch of coconut oil. Blend it all up in your food processor and you have a seriously decadent, creamy and chocolatey “buttercream” frosting on your hands.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Quinoa Cake made with a super healthy vegan chocolate frosting

So while this little quinoa cake might sound a little bizarre, with lots of unique ingredients, I promise you it's the cake to end all cakes. And since the cake itself is just plain old vanilla (but like 100 times better), you can use pretty much any type of frosting you could dream of. I personally think it would be delicious with a coconut whipped cream frosting and fresh strawberries – almost like a strawberry shortcake. Hello, delicious!

And I'd love for you to join me in wishing Matt the happiest of birthdays! Feel free to leave a comment and I'll make sure he gets to read every single one 🙂

xo Alyssa

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Vanilla Quinoa Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

I know it probably sounds a little unorthodox to make a cake out of quinoa, but trust me when I say, this cake couldn’t be any more delicious. It’s fluffy, light and tender, and just melts in your mouth.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 448kcal
Author Alyssa
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Gluten-Free Vanilla Quinoa Cake made with a super healthy vegan chocolate frosting
4.88 from 8 votes


for the cake:

for the frosting:


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 5" round baking pans and line them with a strip of parchment paper (use this method).
  • Add the milk, eggs, vanilla and vinegar to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth. Add the oil and quinoa and blend again until smooth.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the contents of the blender into the mixing bowl and stir together until the batter is smooth. Set aside and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Evenly divide the batter between the three baking pans. Bake on the center rack for 25 - 28 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn them out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  • While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Add the sweet potato, maple syrup and coconut oil into a food processor and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process until incorporated and smooth. Taste and add stevia as needed.
  • Transfer the frosting to a bowl and place in the fridge until cakes are cooled.
  • When cakes are completely cool, frost and sprinkle with chocolate chips.


Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 330mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 2475IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 1.7mg


This post was share on: Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays  

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. this was the first cake I made when exploring healthy baking options and it gave me the motivation to keep going. It quickly turned into a passion so thank you. Defo one of my favourites. Haven’t tried the frosting yet but 100% recommend

    • aww yay!! I am so glad you have enjoyed this recipe and it has encouraged you to keep baking more! It is one of our favorite recipes on the blog too 🙂

  2. Delicious! I made this with my brother and everything that could have went wrong did. Burned the quinoa, added too much apple cider vinegar, and didn’t have the right sized pans. But in the end the cake was moist and delicious! Tasted more like spice cake so we made a cream cheese frosting instead.

    • oh no!! I’m glad to hear the end results weren’t ruined 🙂 and the addition of cream cheese frosting sounds fantastic!

  3. This is more like a sweet quinoa corn bread like dessert lol….. I do not like the texture of quinoa in the cake lol, quinoa flour would have been much better.

  4. Hi! I’m confused about using cooked quinoa,why not use quinoa flour. Wouldnt cooked quinoa leave a weird non cake texture?

  5. 4 eggs is a lot to replace but do you think there would be a sub to make it vegan? maybe aquafaba? it looks delicious!

    • I have made this cake multiple times using flax eggs (to replace 4 eggs you need 4 tbsp ground flaxseed and 12 tbsp water) and then I bake it about 10 minutes longer (around 35 mins). Works perfectly and it’s delicious!!!

    • I’m honestly not sure! Coconut flour is crazy absorbent and needs eggs to work. I think you could try it, but I can’t guarantee it will work. Please do let me know if you try it though!

  6. Is it possible to make this without the apple cider vinegar or to substitute it with a non-vinegar ingredient? My hubbie can’t have anything with vinegar

    • I’m honestly not quite sure. Maybe 20 – 22 minutes? I would just go with whatever typical cupcakes are baked at and then do the toothpick test to see if they’re done 🙂

  7. […] 5. Vanilla Quinoa Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting […]

  8. […] In between these three layers of the cake which you have prepared, you could make a frosting to use; one that you might already know or else try the one found in this recipe for the vanilla quinoa cake. […]

    • I’m honestly not sure. You could try using a lower sugar alternative like xylitol or something, but I think you’d have to play around with proportions if you can the amount you use. Sorry to not be more help! xo

  9. […] 5. Vanilla Quinoa Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting […]

  10. This cake looks delicous! I’m sure it was a perfect birthday cake. I’m highlighting it this week as one of my favorites from last week’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays carnival. (And I have it scheduled to be shared on Facebook tomorrow.) Thanks for participating!

  11. Happy Birthday, Matt! Burlington misses the both of you! Alyssa, that cake looks divine. SO beautiful. Hope you two have a great birthday weekend!

  12. Happy, Happy Birthday Matt–I hope you have a fabulous day. It looks like you are going to have the most interesting cake I’ve seen in ages. I bet it would be great with chocolate avocado icing too

    • Maureen, that’s genius! I haven’t made an avocado icing before but boy does it sound good. Might have to do that next time around 🙂


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