Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake

In Desserts/ Recipes

Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake | A Couple Cooks

Recipe from Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

Are you ready for a really, supremely delicious cake recipe? Because have we got one for you! Oh, and it’s a grain-free chocolate cake—which it turns out can be really, supremely delicious. Even if you don’t eat grain-free (which we don’t), it’s an inventive way to eat real, whole foods in dessert form—and it’s got a fantastic secret ingredient too!

This recipe is comes from the cookbook Kitchen Matters by our friend Pamela Salzman. Pamela is not only a fantastic human being, she has the same food values that we do. She’s not into diets, but she’s all about eating real food, not too much, and mostly plants. Here she is in the introduction to her book: “I believe with 100 percent certainty that what you eat matters more than anything else. The good news is that you have total control over that. You are the one who chooses what goes into your shopping cart and frying pan. If you want to be healthy, cooking as much nutrient-dense food as often as you can is a good place to start. Your health matters–and your kitchen matters.”

Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake | A Couple Cooks

Yes times 1,000 to that! Pamela’s Kitchen Matters book is not vegetarian, but it’s heavy on the vegetables and full of meals the entire family can enjoy no matter their food philosophies or eating preferences. For example: Lentil Sloppy Joes, Thai Yellow Veggie Curry, Not-Fried Rice & Vegetables, and Chipotle Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Slaw.

AND this Grain-Free Chocolate Cake! Alex and I don’t subscribe to a specific diet (neither does Pamela!), but we love the creativity of cooking for people with different food philosophies. While we don’t eat grain-free or Paleo or gluten-free or dairy-free, we love creating foods for people who are—especially if that involves loading on the real food! We’re also big into creating vegan desserts (like these and these) for the very same reason.

Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake | A Couple Cooks

It’s so simple to make this grain-free chocolate cake! The magic ingredients are…drum roll…almond butter and shredded zucchini! The almond butter adds the fat and texture instead of butter, and the zucchini brings in moisture and lightness. And some dark chocolate chips are stirred in for chocolatey goodness, of course! If you eat dairy-free, you can use dairy-free chocolate chips.

When I read that this is the most popular dessert Pamela has ever taught in a class, I knew we had to try this recipe. And from the first bite, I was hooked! It’s surprising how the texture of all the ingredients comes together into something cake-like, even though there’s no flour present. This would be perfect for a summer cookout, since it would satisfy almost every diet in the crowd! (There is an egg in this grain-free chocolate cake so it is not vegan, but I would assume that a flax egg could be used with great results.)

Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake | A Couple Cooks

Congratulations to Pamela on an incredible grain-free chocolate cake and a fantastic book! We’re applauding over here, our mouths stuffed with chocolate.

Oh and PS, our little chocolate monster Larson is a HUGE fan of this grain-free chocolate cake! If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen that he can say Chocolate now (even before Mama–and I couldn’t be more proud!).

Buy the book!

Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

This recipe is…

This grain-free chocolate cake is grain-free, Paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian. For vegan, try a flax egg (we haven’t tested it, so we’d love to hear your feedback!).

Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake | A Couple Cooks

Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake

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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 9-inch square cake, about 8 servings


You won’t believe the amazing secret ingredient in this grain-free chocolate cake! It’s so chocolatey and delicious you’d never guess it’s grain-free.


  • Coconut oil for pan
  • 1 cup creamy, unsweetened, unsalted almond butter, raw or roasted, or sunflower butter
  • 1/3 cup pure Grade A maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, dairy-free as desired


Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan with coconut oil. If you want to remove the cake from the pan in one piece, line it with unbleached parchment paper as well.

In a large bowl, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, salt, coffee powder, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until fully combined and a sticky dough forms.

Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Do not overbake. A 9-inch pan will take about 30 minutes; an 8-inch will take about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.


*Instant coffee powder enhances the chocolate flavor in baked goods. It is completely optional though. There are coffee alternatives, such as Pero, which is a chicory and barley-based product with no caffeine. Pero is not gluten-free or grain-free, due to the barley. Do not use coffee grounds in place of instant coffee powder.

Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite
    June 1, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    I can’t wait to use this with the (soon to be) plethora of zucchini from my garden! Love the rich texture of flourless baked goods!

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