Vegan and Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Balls

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vegancakeballglutenfree 1778 thumb   Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Balls

I admire anyone who has the patience to make Cake Pops. I really do.

I’m just not that patient when it comes to tediously decorating things that I want to stuff in my face.

The thought of dipping, sticking, balancing, and making intricate designs on a sticky ball of chocolate really doesn’t send me running to the kitchen. Cake balls, on the other hand, are an impatient girl’s best friend. You don’t need sticks, Styrofoam, or much patience at all.

Cake balls are traditionally made with just a few ingredients: a baked cake, a tub of frosting, and chocolate for dipping. You simply crumble up a baked cake, mix in frosting, shape into balls, and dip in chocolate. This, my friends, is a recipe that’s just begging to be played with!

I have a bit of a confession first though. This recipe actually started off as an actual cupcake recipe. My plan was to create gluten-free and vegan hostess cupcakes. I adapted my vegan chocolate cake recipe using an all-purpose gluten-free flour which was kindly sent to me by a Canadian GF flour company called Cuisine Soleil.

The GF cupcakes:

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The GF flour worked quite well and tasted lovely, however the cupcakes were a tad bit delicate for what I was trying to do (stuff them with coconut whipped cream). I’d like to play around with my own gluten-free flour mix at some point, but that will probably take some development. Since I didn’t want to share a recipe with you that I wasn’t fully happy with, I decided to turn lemons into lemonade…

Enter cake balls. The perfect solution for any crumbly baking outcome!

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With cake balls, we don’t need to worry too much about making the “perfect” cake since we’ll be crumbling it to pieces anyway. You can use almost any flour you wish without much worry. Instead of using frosting – which didn’t really appeal to me in an already sweet cake – I used full-fat coconut milk (the cream portion only) as the binding agent. By using coconut cream the sugar content is lowered greatly. [If you’d like a refresher on how to use coconut cream, see this post.]

Unlike baking a normal cake, no self control is required with cake balls because you can sample away and no one will be the wiser!

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The amount of coconut cream you use will depend on how sticky your want your batter. My first batch had a bit too much coconut cream (and stuck to my hands a lot when rolling). I think I used about 1 cup of coconut cream in my first trial. For the second batch, I used 1/2-3/4 cup of coconut cream and it was the perfect consistency. The amount you need will likely vary based on what type of flour you use in your cupcakes. You’ll have to eye ball this one and just add a little bit at a time. Eric and I both preferred the trial using less coconut cream, so I suggest adding it slowly and only use just enough.

Mix the coconut cream into the crumbled cake with your hands and then roll it into balls. These two pictures below are from my first trial. As you can see the dough looks a bit too sticky. My second trial was much more crumbly/dry in texture.

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Now simply freeze the balls and then dip them into melted chocolate!

I wanted to naturally colour some shredded coconut, so I smashed a raspberry into a few tablespoons of coconut. It worked like a charm – no red food colouring needed. I also used chopped walnuts and natural sprinkles (the brand is Let’s Do…Sprinklez).

The texture of the cake ball is a bit like a truffle with a firm shell and a soft middle. Eric wasn’t a fan of the mushy texture in my first batch, but after I reduced the coconut cream in my second batch he enjoyed them a lot. You can play around with the amount to suit your own preferences.

vegancakeballglutenfree 1791 thumb   Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Balls

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Balls

Email, text, or print this recipe

Yield: around 24 cake balls

for the cake:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or other light-tasting oil of choice)*
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar (or unrefined sugar like coconut sugar)
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Cuisine Soleil) or flour of choice
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt

 

for the cake balls:

  • 1 can full-fat chilled coconut milk (do not use light coconut milk) (I only used 1/2-3/4 cup cream)
  • 200-225 grams non-dairy semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, to thin out chocolate
  • toppings: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc

 

1. Chill can of coconut milk overnight in the fridge. Preheat oven to 350F and spray a muffin tin with oil. You can also bake a whole cake instead of cupcakes, but the cooking time will likely be longer.

2. In a large bowl, stir the milk with the apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes to curdle – this makes vegan buttermilk.

3. With an electric beater, beat in the oil, vanilla, and sugar into the almond milk mixture.

4. Add the dry ingredients (gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt). Beat mixture until smooth.

5. Evenly distribute the batter among the cupcake tin. I like to use an ice cream scoop with a spring release button. Bake cake at 350F for about 20-23 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched.

6. Cool cupcakes for 5 minutes in the tin and then carefully transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes. Crumble cake into a large bowl.

7. Scoop out coconut cream from the can (if you need a refresher, see this post). Add a little bit of cream at a time to the crumbled cake and mix it in with your hands. You will only need to use enough to make it come together (I used about 1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut cream) and you don’t want to oversaturate the cake with cream.

8. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and freeze the balls for 30-60 minutes until firm.

9. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a small pot over lowest heat. When 2/3 of the chips are melted, remove from heat, and stir until chips are melted. Dip the balls into the chocolate with a fork and swirl around until fully coated. Tap off excess and transfer to a cooling rack so the chocolate can drip off (put paper towel underneath). Sprinkle with chopped nuts, coconut, or sprinkles. Transfer to fridge or freezer until the chocolate is set. Store in the fridge until ready to enjoy.

For approx. nutritional info, see here.

Note: I imagine coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil both work fine as subs for grapeseed oil.

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Moral of the story….when life gives you a crumbly cake or brownie, make cake balls!

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{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley (Taste for Healthy) February 8, 2013

Hahaha… and I thought I was the only one who didn’t have the patience for cake pops! These are beautiful Angela! Your blog is always so inspiring. I hope you and Eric have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! xoxo

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Tanya @ playful and hungry February 11, 2013

Haha, same here. It’s kind of like… bake and destroy. ;)
But I guess I should give it a try…

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Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant February 8, 2013

These look amazing! No gluten, no dairy, and not so difficult either, that’s a triple winner for me. Bookmarked!

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Eliana February 8, 2013

I want to make this recipe, but I don’t have grapeseed oil. Is there something else I can substitute with? Is that ok not use add it?

Thanks
Eliana

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 8, 2013

Yup, you can use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Applesauce might even work, I haven’t tried that yet though.

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Eliana February 8, 2013

Thanks for your reply! By the way.. I absolutely LOVE your blog!!!! Every recipe that I have made is easy and tastes DELICIOUS!

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Erika February 8, 2013

I agree with Ashley–totally inspired to go make some vegan cake balls now! I especially love the idea of using a raspberry as food coloring–I think I (and everyone else who would be eating these) would definitely prefer the raspberry flavor over, say, beets. These are so adorable–hope you have a great V-day!

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Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} February 8, 2013

Yum! These look perfect for Valentine’s Day. Totally agree with you about cake pops, by the way – I admire anyone who has the patience, but that is just NOT me.

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Amy February 8, 2013

I can’t digest coconout milk…is there another alternative you can think of that would work? I should add im gluten intolerant as well so these really excite me!

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Katie February 8, 2013

Thank you for posting how to make cake balls! This has been a project on the backburner for me for quite some time. Ever since I tasted some delectable rum cake balls … To this end, to moisten the crumbled cake I would substitute the coconut milk with your favourite liqueur! Rum, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, vegan Baileys, maybe coconut liqueur? I’d start with 1/4 cup of booze, and then slowly add more as you mix.

As for patience, I never have enough to coat things in chocolate … chocolate chip sprinkles all the way!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 8, 2013

Hi Amy, Homemade frosting would work. Also, what about strawberry or raspberry jam?

Good luck experimenting.

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Christy February 13, 2013

I did not have any coconut milk on hand when I made these cake balls over the weekend, and used a runny peanut butter as substitute. Excellent. Thanks, Angela, for getting me going on making these. They were a hit and I plan to make another batch for this weekend. Yum!

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Christa @ Edible Balance February 8, 2013

Vegan AND gluten free?? You’re kinda my hero… I mean, you already were, but this literally takes the cake! They’re so pretty! Now I must find someone to make them for me… my patience is far less than yours on stuff like this ;)

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 8, 2013

I adore cake balls! I made chocolate red wine balls and white chocolate champagne balls last winter – I can’t wait to try them again using your coconut cream idea! I think maybe coconut-rum cake balls are in order… :)

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Anele @ Success Along the Weigh February 8, 2013

Now I totally want to make a crumbly cake on purpose. :-)

I make cake balls every few months, swear them off because they’re such a pain in my rump and then I eat one and all of the grudges fade away. Though I must admit one always has to sacrifice itself in the name of frustration and ends up flattened…then I can happily trudge on. I apparently have issues. HA!

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Ashley February 8, 2013

I love cake balls but have no patience in making them either. My first time I made them, it was a disaster! However, I am a fan of red velvet, and for my birthday last year I received some red velvet cake balls from my friend who’s a baker. So good I tell you! These look amazing too, and will have to try them soon. Perhaps this time, it won’t be so bad!

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Stephi February 8, 2013

These look so tasty…..

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Shundara@ SavyNaturalista February 8, 2013

Cake balls ugh I have had a run in and have given up… Just in time for valentines day they look like many truffles.. Yum, Yum.

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Brianna (thecatcallstheshots) February 8, 2013

I love your idea for naturally coloring shredded coconut! I’m eager to make a valentine’s oatmeal and that would be perfect!

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Katie February 8, 2013

I just found out that I have Celiac and have been freaking out about no more desserts! Thank you for posting this! I’m going to make some this weekend!

I LOVE your blog!

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Maria February 8, 2013

Coconut cream + no shame in eating crumbs? I am so signed up for this recipe. I love the idea of using coconut cream to lessen the amount of sugar that I add to a recipe. I’m way more obsessed with fat than I am with sugar, anyway. And I’ve never thought about using fruit as a food coloring before, even though it seems like such an obvious choice.

Also, I’m pretty sure these are as adorable as any cake balls I’ve ever seen.

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Sarah @ Yogi in Action February 8, 2013

Wow- those look amazing and sound delicious! It’s days like today I wish we were neighbours- so I could enjoy your delicious goodies without having to make them myself ;) Sadly, being in Western Canada, I’ll actually have to make a batch.

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katy @ just playing house February 8, 2013

I’ve done the cake pop thing…once. Never again! These look amazing, and I bet they’d be more fun to eat! (I couldn’t stand to look at the cake pops after the 5 hours it took to make them!)

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Jenna February 8, 2013

These look awesome!

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Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} February 8, 2013

I saw these on instagram and was waiting with bated breath for the post! Love this idea and also using raspberries to dye the coconut flakes. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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Emily February 8, 2013

Yum!!! These look soooo cute, I think I’ll have to make these for my hubby for Valentine’s day! :)

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Jackie February 8, 2013

Those look delicious!! Curious though – what is the difference between a cake ball and a cake pop, other than the pops have sticks?

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Averie @ Averie Cooks February 8, 2013

I love that you made lemonade out of lemons. And chocolate cake is never lemons, per se :)

And that you used coconut milk in them to mix them up. I bet the consistency, flavor, and scent of them is just awesome. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Can’t wait for that cupcake post/recipe, too!

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Liz @ The Lemon Bowl February 8, 2013

This looks incredible!!

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kimmythevegan February 8, 2013

AWESOME!
These look so delicious =) I also do not have the patience (or tools) to try making cake pops, I’m super excited to try making these!

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Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health February 8, 2013

These are great, Angela! Those cupcakes would have been amazing too! I wish you had a bakery with a location near me. I would be a frequent flyer for sure. ;)

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Alina February 8, 2013

Thanks for this recipe! I was wondering if there was a healthier (well, non-processed) cake ball recipe out there!

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Rachel @ RachelRuns29.11 February 8, 2013

A- These are adorable, and look delicious. Thanks for the recipe. I want you to know how much I love your site. Your recipes are fantastic and easy to follow and most of the time don’t include ingredients I have to order from Amazon:). Whenever a new vegan asks me for recipes to get started, I don’t even bother, I just give them your blog address. Most of my recipes are from here anyway. Thank you so much for all of the hard work you put into each post and the beautiful photos and words that accompany them. So thankful! Love from Florida!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2013

Hi Rachel, That means so much to me. Thank you for spreading the word (and of course, reading the blog). Take care!

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Amanda@ Spiritual Sweat February 8, 2013

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!! These look so dangerously tasty! Angela, your website is hands-down my favorite food site :)

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Rose! February 8, 2013

Brilliant! I wouldn’t have thought that coconut cream would bind these together so well. Thank you, Angela!

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Brittney @ Sound in Wind and Limb February 8, 2013

Um, wow! These look really good. Thanks for the recipe. I recently purchased raw cocoa powder and want to give it a try!

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Maria Tadic February 8, 2013

This looks like such an easy recipe! I totally wanna try it. I’ve never done the thing with the coconut cream, but I’m excited to try it out! Thanks for sharing!

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Mary February 8, 2013

These look so delicious. *sigh* If only I was not on a no-more-baked-treats week.

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Kelli February 8, 2013

First, these look awesome. Second, I thought I would share an ingenious lazy way to make cake pops – just get some Timbits from Tim Hortons (if you are in Canada) and dip them in chocolate, stick sticks in them and voila… cake pops. Obviously not homemade, and most likely not vegan, but vegetarian and very cute. I saw this at a shower one time, and they were great.

Thanks for yet another tantalizing recipe, Angela!

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sara February 8, 2013

wow! i am going to a potluck tonight where the food theme is vegan, gluten-free finger food (seriously). this recipe could not have come at a more perfect time! you rock angela!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat February 8, 2013

These are just too cute Ange!! It’s funny you mention cake pops because I’ve been at Bed Bath and Beyond a few times lately (more than I care to admit!!) and they’re ALLLL about the cake pop makers and accessories there. So much easier to just make the balls like you have here … who needs sticks?! ;) Happy snowy Friday!

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Brigitte February 8, 2013

Hi was just wondering do you have to bake them in cup cake form…or can you bake in a regular cake pan since you have to break it apart anyways??

Thanks

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Annie@stronghealthyfit February 8, 2013

Angela, you never cease to amazing me with your cleverness! These cake balls looks delicious, I love the coconut cream as the binder. Perfect to balance out the sweetness of the cake and chocolate coating, what a great idea!

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Jesse (OutToLunchCreations) February 8, 2013

Yummmmy! These are so cute and look amazing! I love how you used coconut cream instead of icing! I will totally make these the next time one of my gluten free experiments doesn’t work out how I planned.

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Melissa February 8, 2013

Yum! I never would have thought cake balls would be so easy. Could you show some pictures of how you dip the cake balls in chocolate? I really struggle with dipping anything in chocolate without 1) getting an extremely thick layer of chocolate or 2) having an area of ball that looks jacked up because of my fingers/fork touching the food.

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Ashley @ Blissful Basil February 8, 2013

These look so delicious and so valentine-esque! Love the coconut cream in place of frosting idea — genius!

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