Vegan Chocolate Cake (with Non-vegan Fudge Frosting)

Do you want to bake something but don’t have eggs or butter? Do you have an aggressive craving for chocolate almost every day? Do you need a distraction from what’s happening with the world? Do you want a snack cake / breakfast cake / celebration cake / quarantine cake? If you answered yes, then you are me and I am you.

It’s been several weeks since this pandemic hit the world, and every day, I’m rolling in a wave of mixed emotions: anxiety, fear, frustration, hope, acceptance, gratitude, rinse, repeat. Some of us are luckier than most; others suffer unfairly. If you are one of the more fortunate ones, please help others when you can. Be generous when tipping on deliveries, donate to fundraisers, send money to those in need, be more patient, stay home. We are all adjusting.

But still, some things remain constant. For me, I still have regular Facetime calls with my family, funny text chains with my girlfriends, morning workouts, cozy nights of watching TV and cuddling on the couch with Matt, getting Chinese food for delivery, and my constant craving for dessert.

But alas, we are running low on eggs. And we are running low on butter. (I’m not panicking!) I needed to bake something without eggs nor butter. I needed to make a vegan dessert. I mean, I’ve done it before: Carrot Cake Smoothie, Chocolate Coconut Avocado Pudding, Coconut Chia Pudding to name a few. I’ve just never made a vegan cake.

So I turned to the experts – or one expert in particular: Deb from Smitten Kitchen, one of my very favorite bloggers of all time. I followed her recipe for Chocolate Olive Oil Cake and made a few tweaks: I used coffee instead of water, I added 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to the batter, and I baked the cake in an 8×8 square pan.

The cake turned out beautifully: fragrant with olive oil, with a deep chocolate flavor, and a tender crumb. I wanted to top it with something sweet and decadent, so I made a quick (non-vegan) chocolate frosting. After all, we have plenty of chocolate and other kinds of dairy at home. I whipped up a velvety fudge-ganache hybrid. And then I showered the cake with my favorite sprinkles: confetti, pink sprinkles, red and white hearts, gold stars.

What I ended up with was something cheery and chocolatey. A bright spot in a seemingly eerie world. A perfect little slice for these imperfect times.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Non-Vegan Fudge Frosting



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


8 oz milk chocolate
6 oz condensed milk
2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon sprinkles (optional)


  1. Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and oil bottom and sides. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugars. Mix well.
  4. Add olive oil, coffee, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix together until smooth.
  5. Pour batter in prepared pan.
  6. Bake 28-32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before starting frosting.
  7. Make the fudge frosting. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and condensed milk. Heat for 30 seconds, stir, and heat again in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. I ended up heating everything for a total of 1 1/2 minutes.
  8. Add in cream, and stir until smooth.
  9. Spread frosting on top of cake and even out with a spatula. Decorate with sprinkles (if using). Serve at room temperature or cold. 

Cake recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Olive Oil Cake


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