Christmas chocolate cake recipe, anyone? Yes, the alternative to fruit cake that nobody would know is Coeliac-friendly and gluten-free, is BACK. It’s also simple to make the cake and icing dairy free – then simply top with the dairy-free alternatives I’ve linked in the FAQ section instead.
Christmas chocolate cake recipe – if you don’t fancy baking my traditional gluten-free Christmas cake this year, then chances are that you might prefer this! It’s super easy to make and decorate thanks to the use of a few free from/’accidentally’ gluten-free products as a last second flourish.
But wait a second, what do I mean that ‘it’s back’? Yes, that’s right, this cake might look very familiar with you! And that’s because it was first posted on December the 9th 2020. So where did it go?
Guess what? I blame Google! I had to delete this recipe because when you searched the term ‘gluten-free chocolate cake’ on Google, this recipe showed up instead of my classic gluten-free chocolate cake recipe. Why is that a problem? Because it was doing so even in July!!
So sadly, the only way to fix that was to delete this post. Now my all-year-round gluten-free chocolate cake is shown when you search for it instead… as it should be! Sorry that’s a really boring reason for deleting a much loved recipe, but I just like to be transparent about things.
Now that’s out of the way, I can talk about my Christmas chocolate cake recipe! It’s no more difficult than making a Victoria sponge cake or any two-tiered layer cake. But best of all… nobody would EVER know this gluten-free. Promise!
Festive chocolate finishes this beauty off perfectly (yes, they’re all gluten-free and linked in the FAQ section) and it’s a real show-stopper, despite this recipe being 100% beginner-friendly.
Why make my Christmas chocolate cake recipe?
- It’s gluten-free, but nobody would ever know… yep, muggles will happily eat this too so watch out!
- This cake is insanely chocolatey with a fudgy, sweet, indulgent icing. It’s not just for Christmas!
- Thanks to some of the awesome gluten-free festive chocolate options we have this year, decorating this is a doddle.
- You can also flavour the sponge and icing with festive flavours – add a 1 tsp of orange OR mint extract to the sponge and icing, to make a choc orange or mint chocolate version.
- This recipe is incredibly easy to make dairy-free with a few simple swaps. And you’d never notice the difference – read the FAQ section to find out how.
So what does my Christmas chocolate cake taste like?
The sponge is so incredibly soft and moist with a rich, undeniably chocolatey taste. The buttercream is quite simply the best chocolate buttercream I’ve ever made, to be modest about it – it’s luxuriously thick, chocolatey and perfect against that fluffy sponge.
Each bit is fudgy, yet sweet, fluffy and light with an intense double chocolate flavour. And I haven’t even mentioned all my festive chocolate decorations yet either!
They add a totally different texture, flavour and visual sensation that transforms this from being an epic chocolate cake… into an EPIC Christmas chocolate cake!
So what are you waiting for? Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe – consider this your shopping list!
Christmas chocolate cake recipe: What you’ll need…
- Gluten-free self-raising flour: I use a simple commercial blend from the free from aisle in the supermarket – my go to is FREEE. If you can’t find a blend like this where you live, you can always make your own using my gluten-free flour recipe.
- Gluten-free baking powder: Not all baking powder is gluten-free so make sure you read the ingredients list on the product first. You’ll find this down the free from aisle.
- Xanthan gum: This helps to bind the cake crumb together so it doesn’t become crumbly, replacing the gluten that would otherwise do the same job. You’ll find this down the free from aisle.
- Cocoa powder: Any cocoa powder will do, but make sure it’s dairy-free if you need it to be. Ideally sieve your cocoa powder before using or it can be quite lumpy and hard to mix in.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted is totally fine (I use unsalted), but whichever you go for, make sure it’s softened first.
- Caster sugar: Sugar isn’t just for sweetness – it helps to achieve a lovely crisp exterior and helps the sponge to form a perfect crumb.
- Eggs: I use large eggs for this recipe, but medium works fine too. If you can’t tolerate egg, check the vegan section of the FAQ for some simple swaps you can try.
- Vanilla extract: The better quality yours is, the better it will taste!
- Icing sugar: You’ll need this for the buttercream as caster sugar won’t work here.
- Dark chocolate: You’ll need some melted dark chocolate for the buttercream. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste super dark and bitter as it’s balanced out with butter and icing sugar – it just creates a super indulgent, creamy, chocolatey taste! I usually use 54% or 70% dark chocolate.
- Gluten-free chocolate treats: I used Schar gluten-free chocolate fingers, Aero Snowbubble chocolate balls and KitKat mini Santas. You’ll find the chocolate fingers in supermarket free from aisles, but the other two are from the seasonal chocolate aisle. All these products are linked in the FAQ section.
- Gluten-free colourful sprinkles: Not all sprinkles are commonly gluten-free, so make sure yours are! I liked the ones I used in the FAQ section.
So I thought I’d kick things off with a little frequently asked questions section – if you just want the recipe, then keep scrolling.
But I’ve thrown in some tips here that will be really helpful if this is your first time making this, or you want to adapt it. So here they are!
Christmas chocolate cake recipe: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Is it suitable for Coeliacs?
It is gluten-free, though nobody would know just by tasting it – trust me!
Bear in mind that minimising cross-contamination is hugely important if you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross contamination:
Also, make sure that all ingredients used don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients. Then make sure that they also don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats (which aren’t gf), spelt and khorasan wheat (aka Kamut).
Here’s some more info from Coeliac UK on identifying safe gluten-free products.
Can I make your Christmas chocolate cake recipe dairy free?
Of course you can – and this recipe is actually really simple to make dairy free with a few simple swaps. For the cake and buttercream:
- Use Stork hard margarine instead of butter. The buttercream may be a little looser, so you can either add a little extra icing sugar to compensate, or chill it before spreading.
- Ensure your cocoa powder is dairy-free. Most are, but not all!
- Use a dairy-free dark chocolate instead.
None of the decorations I used (apart from the sprinkles) are dairy-free. So here’s some easy alternatives:
- Instead of using chocolate fingers for the outside of the cake, use giant dairy-free chocolate buttons.
- Instead of using Aero Snowbubbles around the edge of the cake, use dairy-free white chocolate buttons.
- Instead of the gluten-free KitKat Santas on top (in the middle), use MooFree Santa-shaped chocolate bars.
Can I make your Christmas chocolate cake recipe vegan?
Yep! If you follow the instructions above to make this recipe dairy-free, then all you’ve got left to contend with is the eggs.
Here’s a few ideas you can use as egg replacements, so each of these = 1 egg.
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba (whisked until frothy) – water from a can of chickpeas. Keep the chickpeas for a future dinner!
- Egg replacement powder – I’d recommend using Orgran as it’s gluten-free.
- 1 tablespoon of chia/flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and left for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- 3 tablespoons of applesauce.
I haven’t tested all of these egg alternatives so let me know how you get on in the comments below this post.
Can I make this low FODMAP?
If you use dark chocolate (in the buttercream) that’s lactose-free – and most are already as most 70% dark chocolate doesn’t contain dairy – then the entire sponge cake and the buttercream will be safe for the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet.
However, none of the festive chocolate treats I used to decorate the cake will be low FODMAP. Either find some that are or just go crazy with gluten-free sprinkles instead!
Which products did you use to decorate the cake? Are they all gluten-free?
Firstly, yes – all of these products are gluten-free and easily available in supermarkets! Here they are:
- For the outside of the cake on the sides I used Schar gluten-free chocolate fingers (found in the free from aisle).
- For the outside perimeter of the top of the cake I used Aero Snowbubble chocolate balls. These are no longer in stock in supermarkets compared to when this was first posted, but I’d just use these Aero candy cane bubbles instead.
- For the sprinkles I used Christmas hundreds and thousands from Waitrose.
- For the centre-piece, I used a few of KitKat’s gluten-free festive friends. These are be a sharing bag of mini chocolate Santas, presents, snowmen shapes etc. but are no longer stocked as widely as they used to be (I can only find them in Morrisons and online on Ocado right now). So just use the KitKat mini Santa sharing bag instead which you’ll find almost anywhere.
You don’t NEED to use all of these – to be honest, I just had leftover Christmas chocolate from all my baking that I needed to use up! But you can’t deny that it does all look good as a whole, right?
Can I make your Christmas chocolate cake in a food processor or standing mixer?
Of course you can! I actually use an electric whisk for the cake, simply because it doesn’t involve mixing for long periods – this makes light work of the cake batter.
However, as the buttercream requires extended periods of mixing, I far prefer using my stand mixer for that and letting it do all the hard work.
A food processor would be fine for the cake batter, but I’d advise using something with a whisk attachment for the buttercream. You can of course, bake this without any assistance from any appliance – just a good ol’ fashioned hand whisk or silicone spatula will do.
Do I need any special equipment to bake your Christmas chocolate cake recipe?
Certainly not! You will need a good quality 8in baking tin (I used 2) so here’s a link to the one I use.
I’d always recommend having two tins so you can bake both sponges at the same time. If you bake them one at a time, the second sponge won’t rise as much as the first.
Can I make this using the creaming method?
Of course – I prefer to use the all-in-one method for this as I find it’s always a safe bet with a simple chocolate sponge like this.
But of course, you’re more than welcome to cream the sugar and softened butter together, then add the other ingredients in stages, mixing in between each addition.
It works perfect both ways so it’s totally up to you!
Do I need weighing scales to bake your Christmas chocolate cake recipe?
In short… yes, yes and yes! And I wouldn’t advise attempting any of my recipes without them.
A lot of work went into fine tuning ratios and quantities and for me, baking is all about consistency and precision. I want you to make this recipe and for it to turn out EXACTLY like mine did.
I’d recommending using digital cooking scales like these so you know you’re getting an accurate measurement and replicating my recipe as accurately as poss.
Can I bake your Christmas chocolate cake recipe with less sugar / without sugar?
I can definitely understand the need to reduce sugar in our foods, but this is one of the recipes where I wouldn’t advise it.
Of course, the sugar isn’t just for sweetness – it’s integral to the structure of the cake once baked and is super important. This bake won’t function without sugar!
Just go easy on the toppings or use your buttercream sparingly instead of reducing the sugar in the sponges. It’s much safer.
Can I make this recipe using other gluten free flours like buckwheat flour or coconut flour?
There’s a big difference between ‘gluten free plain/self-raising flour’ and a *singular* type gluten free flour. When I say ‘gluten free plain or self-raising flour’ in a recipe, I mean a BLEND of gluten free flours, not just one, singular flour.
Most gluten free flour you buy in the supermarket typically contains a blend of rice flour, potato flour, maize flour, tapioca flour AND buckwheat flour. That’s a lot of different flours!
So to replace it with just one specific type of flour… that’s not going to cut it at all. Definitely go for a gluten free flour blend.
How can I tell when my Christmas chocolate cake is done?
Grab a skewer and give it a poke in the centre. If it comes out clean, then it’s done!
But if the skewer comes out moist and cake-like, it’s best to pop it back in for a bit longer.
How long can I keep your Christmas chocolate cake for?
I’ve kept it for about 4-5 days in an air-tight container with no problems. If you need it any longer than that, I’d highly recommend freezing it (see advice below for doing that) When the cake starts getting a little dry, it’s probably starting to get past its best.
I’ve frozen it for up to 2-3 months no problem. Ideally, slice up the cake first before freezing – that way you can simply defrost slices as and when you need them. Plus, it’ll thaw a lot quicker. When you want to eat it, each slice should take around 4 hours to defrost at room temperature.
Gluten-free Christmas chocolate cake recipe: Tips for perfection!
- Ensure everything is mixed together and the batter is smooth and without lumps… then stop! You most certainly don’t want lumpy cake butter, but over mixing isn’t good either. Sifting your flour and cocoa powder into the bowl can help make the mixing in process easy (especially if doing it by hand) so that it becomes thick and smooth very quickly. Then stop mixing!
- Don’t overdo the baking powder, or it can make the sponge sink in the middle. Be careful when measuring it out!
- Once you’ve made the sponge cake batter, bake it ASAP. The rising power of the baking powder will degrade quickly, resulting in denser, less risen cupcakes.
- Allow the sponges to fully cool before spreading on the buttercream – it will melt otherwise!
- Stick the chocolate fingers to the side of the cake as soon as the icing as been applied. Buttercream will ‘set’ to a certain degree making it very hard for the chocolate fingers to stick if you allow the icing to dry out!
Christmas Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2 8in round cake tins
For the sponge
- 185 g gluten free self raising flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 40 g cocoa powder
- 225 g butter softened
- 225 g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing
- 250 g butter softened
- 185 g icing sugar
- 55 g cocoa powder
- 110 g dark chocolate melted
- Schar gluten-free chocolate fingers see FAQ section for links
- Aero Snowbubble Chocolate Balls see FAQ section for links
- Gluten-free KitKat Mini Santas see FAQ section for links
- Red/Green Christmas sprinkles ensure gluten-free – see FAQ section for links
For the sponge:
- Preheat your oven to 160C Fan / 180C. Prepare 2 circular cake tins (mine are 8in/20cm) – grease them and cut a circle of parchment paper to sit in the bottom.
- Place all your sponge ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined and thoroughly mixed (1 minute should do it).
- Divide the mixture between the two tins evenly.
- Bake for around 25-30 minutes (remember never to open the oven until you think they are definitely done). To check if the sponges are cooked, insert a skewer and if it comes out clean, it’s done!
- Leave the sponges in their tins for about 5 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack.
For the chocolate icing:
- Melt your dark chocolate (I do this is the microwave in 20 seconds bursts set to 600W, stirring between each burst), put to one side to cool whilst making the rest of the buttercream.
- To make your icing, place your butter in a stand mixer (or electric hand whisk if you don't have a stand mixer), mix on its own on a high speed for about 5 minutes. The butter should change from a more yellow colour to being a lot more pale.
- Add your icing sugar gradually to the butter (I do this in two stages). I mix each addition of icing sugar for around 3 minutes before adding the second half.
- Sieve in your cocoa powder and then mix again until fully combined.
- Add in your cooled melted chocolate and mix until dispersed evenly and the colour is a lovely rich chocolate colour and it’s a nice thickness to spread.
To assemble and decorate:
- Carefully place one of your sponges onto your serving plate.
- Spread a layer of icing over the centre. I don’t ever go right up to the edges or else if all comes out when you put the top layer on. Make sure you reserve some icing for the top and also you will need some to go round the edges too – not much is required for around the sides though.
- Carefully place the top layer on and spread with more of the icing.
- Spread the remaining icing around the sides of the cake, this will allow you to stick the chocolate fingers to it.
- Press your chocolate fingers all around the edge of the cake. Place Aero snowballs around the edge on top and cover in festive sprinkles. Add a few KitKat Santas to the top if you like too! Enjoy 🙂
Thanks for reading how to make my Christmas chocolate cake recipe! If you make it, I’d love to see how it turned out so don’t forget to take a snap of your bakes and tag me on Instagram!
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me Instagram and leaving me a comment!
Thanks for reading,
Oh and don’t forget to pin this for later!