Small Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

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This small gluten free chocolate cake makes a mini 6-inch cake that is soft, moist, full of chocolate flavor, and ideal for two people!  The almond flour cake makes a great cake for small celebrations, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day.  Finish the cake with strawberry butter free frosting for a delicious combo!

Small gluten free chocolate cake with strawberry frosting and sprinkles on a white plate.

Gluten Free 6-Inch Chocolate Cake

This mini chocolate cake is adapted from my gluten free chocolate cupcakes recipe.  I have adjusted the ingredients slightly to make a super moist and flavorful cake – that doesn’t taste gluten free!

The difference between this cake recipe and the chocolate cupcakes is: 

  • swapped in organic cane sugar for the coconut sugar
  • added a bit more cocoa powder
  • use sour cream instead of milk to make the cake sublimely moist
  • added xanthan gum to make the cake pillowy soft (more on that below in the next section)

What Makes This Chocolate Gluten Free Cake So Special

  • Moist – Ok, the cake is moist.  Almond flour, sour cream, xanthan gum, and hot coffee are what makes this cake moist.
  • Soft – This is not a dense cake.  It is soft, light, and spongy.  It is strong competition to my traditional classic chocolate cake recipe.  
  • Celebratory Cake – The petite size makes this cake incredibly cute.  Dress it up with pink frosting and heart sprinkles for a romantic Valentine’s Day dessert.  Or finish it simply with vanilla frosting and funfetti sprinkles for a sweet birthday cake.  The possibilities are endless!
  • Easy – Two bowls and no mixer required to make this little cake.
  • Mini Cake – The small batch cake means it is a great dessert for two people!
A small slice of gluten free chocolate cake on a white cupcake stand.

Everything You Need To Make A Small Gluten Free Chocolate Cake


  • Almond Flour – Blanched almond flour is best because it is ground super fine and without the almond skins.  Almond flour adds protein, moisture, and structure to the cake.
  • Tapioca Flour – Tapioca flour is also referred to as tapioca starch.  It helps make the cake light and provides texture.
  • Coconut Flour – I like to use coconut flour because it keeps the cake from getting overly dense.  Coconut flour is absorbent, thus a great balance for the liquid ingredients in the cake.
  • Cocoa Powder – I use Dutch process cocoa powder for the majority of my chocolate baking recipes.  I prefer it over natural cocoa because it isn’t as acidic and has a bold chocolate flavor 
  • Xanthan Gum – Xanthan gum mimics the properties of gluten and provides elasticity, works as a binder, provides structure, and holds on to moisture.  In cake recipes, it makes the cake soft, lofty, and moist.  
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda – We use both because we need to balance the cocoa powder and sour cream.
  • Salt – Salt is necessary to balance and enhance all of the flavors.
  • Sugar – My preference is organic cane sugar because it is less processed than regular white sugar, and it has a rich flavor.  Granulated (white) sugar will work as well.
  • Egg – 1 large egg is all we need.
  • Coconut Oil – Cocoa powder is naturally drying.  I find using oil in chocolate cakes offsets this –  better than butter – to keep the cake moist.
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream is my one of my favorite ingredients to keep cake-like batters moist.  
  • Vanilla – For an additional layer of flavor.
  • Hot Coffee – Coffee enhances the cocoa flavor.  And when it is hot, it will help bloom the cocoa.

Baking Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls
  • 6-Inch Round Cake Pan
  • Parchment Paper

What Is The Deal With Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum can be controversial in gluten free baking.  However, you will find it in a lot of 1:1 flour mixes, gluten free recipes, and even in my pie crust recipe.  As I note above, it is great at replacing all of the benefits we get from gluten when baking.

Xanthan gum is typically corn sugar that has been fermented then dried and ground into a powder.  It is a (very) common food additive that works as a thickener, stabilizer, and binder. 

It is the binding properties that make it popular in gluten free baking because it mimics gluten.  A little goes a long way with this odorless powder, which is why there is such a small amount in this cake recipe

So, why is xanthan gum controversial?  In excess it can cause tummy troubles.  Though in this recipe, as with most recipes, there isn’t enough to cause worry. 

That said, if you object to using it, you can certainly omit it.  Just know that the end result won’t be as soft fluffy.

Strawberry Frosting Made Without Butter

The frosting I chose for this chocolate cake seemed only fitting.  Because chocolate and strawberry go together like, chocolate and strawberry!

And yes, it is possible to make creamy frosting without butter.  We use coconut cream (from the can), coconut oil, and powdered sugar.  And to give the frosting its flavor, freeze-dried strawberry powder provides this.  

So now that you know the 3 ingredients that make the base of the frosting, imagine the flavor possibilities when you add freeze-dried fruit!  Raspberry, peach, mango, apple … so many!

Helpful Tips On How To Make A Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

  • Use blanched almond flour – I have tested this cake with un-blanched almond flour.  The taste was fine.  It was the texture that I wasn’t fond of.  Un-blanched (with the skins) almond flour can make bake goods – especially cakes – a little heavier.
  • Dutch process cocoa for a rich chocolate flavor – Dutch process is always my preference for this reason.  
  • Full fat sour cream for fat – My thought is if you are going to use sour cream in a cake, make it full fat.  Low fat sour cream is too watery and may not make the cake as moist and tender.
  • Don’t overbake the cake – Because it is a chocolate cake, we can’t rely on the golden edges to tell how it is baking.  The cake should be springy, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  An overbaked cake will be dry.
Sweet strawberry frosted chocolate gluten free cake with heart sprinkles.

FAQ’S for how to make a Mini Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Can this recipe be doubled to make a larger cake?

I haven’t tested it, and can’t say for certain. If you try it, let us know!

Do I have to use the xanthan gum?

You do not. I have tested the cake without it and the flavor was great, however the cake wasn’t as soft and light.

Why can’t I use natural cocoa powder?

You can, just note the cake may not be as rich in chocolate flavor. You can make the swap because there is already baking soda in the recipe (which is needed to balance the acidity of natural cocoa).

I’d rather use coconut sugar, like you do in the gluten free chocolate cupcakes. How much do I need?

Coconut sugar is not as sweet as cane sugar. I would use 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons.

Can I make this cake into cupcakes?

Yes. The batter will yield 5 to 6 cupcakes – depending on how full you fill your cupcake liners. Only fill 2/3 of the way and adjust the bake time to 15 minutes.

Will yogurt work instead of the sour cream?

It will, just note that yogurt does not have the same amount of fat as sour cream. The cake may not turn out as moist and tender. I would recommend Greek yogurt.

How do I store leftovers?

The cake will store fine covered at room temperature for a day. After that, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Beyond that, the cake may start to dry out.

Can I freeze the baked chocolate cake?

Yes. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap then slide into a Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months, and thaw in the refrigerator.

Small gluten free chocolate cake cut into slices on a white platter.
Small gluten free chocolate cake with strawberry frosting and sprinkles on a white plate.
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4.67 from 3 reviews

Small Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Yield: 1 6-Inch Cake
This small gluten free chocolate cake makes a mini 6-inch cake that is soft, moist, full of chocolate flavor, and ideal for two people!  The almond flour cake makes a great cake for small celebrations, birthday's, and Valentine's Day.  Finish the cake with strawberry butter free frosting for a delicious combo!
Prep10 minutes
Cook22 minutes
Total32 minutes



Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the bottom of a 6-inch round cake pan with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan and the paper.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, and salt.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar, egg, melted coconut oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely combined.
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet ingredients. Stir until no dry streaks remain. Add the hot coffee (or water), and stir until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch, the sides are pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool completely.

Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

  • While the cake is cooling, prepare the strawberry butter free frosting. You may have leftover frosting depending on how much you like to frost your cake. Leftover frosting can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Frost the completely cooled cake, decorate with sprinkles (optional), and Enjoy!
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  • Xanthan Gum – This is optional, but recommended.  Xanthan gum makes the cake soft and light.  Without it, the cake may have a tighter crumb.  A little goes a long way.
  • Cocoa Powder – My preference is Dutch process cocoa because it has a bolder chocolate flavor and isn’t as acidic.  You can swap in natural cocoa if you prefer.
  • Coffee – The hot coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa.  I recommend a medium brew so it does not overpower the flavor.  Otherwise, hot water will also work.
  • Cake Pan – The cake can also be baked in a 6-inch square cake pan.  Or 6 cupcakes.
  • Storing – The cake will stay moist covered at room temperature for a day.  After that, you will want to refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.  Beyond that, the cake may start to dry out.
  • Freezing Baked Cake – The baked cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap then slip into a Ziploc bag.  Thaw the wrapped cake in the refrigerator.
  • Frosting – For more frosting ideas, check out the frosting recipes on the blog.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!

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