Vegan and Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Balls

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on February 8, 2013

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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.

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Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Balls

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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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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

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Suzanne February 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Oh. My. Goodness. I finally got around to making these and now my husband, kids, and I are demolishing the entire (double) batch. I coated them with powdered sugar/cocoa/vanilla soy milk frosting instead of chocolate. Sooooo good!

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Lori February 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I made these this past weekend. Although I didn’t take the time to make mine as pretty, they were AMAZING!!!! Highly recommend everyone make these! :)

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tabitha hogue March 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Hello you have the most amazing recipes thanks so much for sharing love love love your stuff…
I made the cupcakes and used
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
And coconut oil not grasped oil
I am naming all the changes because im not sure which on made the difference but the result was a wonderfull CAKE that held together…
Beautiful , light, and rose well so well im sure it would work as a cake not just cupcakes…
Thanks again
tabitha

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Angela (Oh She Glows) March 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Great to know, thanks!

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Avril Eastwood March 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Your website is just fantastic. To be able to make gluten free, dairy free cakes like that is just amazing. I am knew to GF & DF through my own choice to try and help with my RA. I still don’t exclude it altogether as it takes time to change. I made these wonderful mouthfuls of delight today for my sons Foreverday tomorrow (celebration of the day he came to live with us, he’s adopted). They are fantastic. Thank you for all the wonderful things you make. I wish I could send you a piccy, but I don’t know how to on here :)

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Jenn May 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I made these for a wedding shower this weekend and they were a hit! They also were the only vegan option for sweets at the shower which meant I both made them, and ate my fair share. Or maybe more than my fair share. I blame you.

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Rachel Silvey May 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Just made these and they are fantastic! Have to admit I couldn’t stop eating them along the way!

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Beth El June 25, 2013 at 9:46 am

Hi. Looking forward to making these for my birthday! Can I use stevia instead of cane sugar? If so, how much? THANKS!

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Kim Insley September 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I could not find your nut-free alternative, which I thought you mentioned there was one. Not only do we have gluten issues, we have dairy and nut allergies as well. It would be great to try this in a way my family could enjoy!
Thanks.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 26, 2013 at 8:23 am

Hi Kim, For a nut-free version you can swap the almond milk for another non-dairy milk (such as soy or coconut) and them omit the nuts on the topping. Hope this helps!

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Christina September 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Hi!

Question….can I use soy milk instead of almond milk?

Thanks!!
Christina

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Christina September 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm

actually…just read the post above mine!! hahah never mind!

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Steffie October 2, 2013 at 6:43 am

Hi Angela!
Is there a way of making these without Almond Milk? My husband has a nut allergy and he loves cake!
Steffie

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

Hey there, Yes I think you could use another non-dairy milk in its place (like soy or coconut milk, for example) enjoy!

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Candacec November 5, 2013 at 10:36 am

I’m Allergic To All Cane Sugar So The Semi-Sweet Chocolate Is A No Go. PAlm Sugar Is Ok THough. Any Suggestions THat Won’t Cost Me An Arm And A Leg? THank You

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alyssa February 13, 2014 at 7:59 pm

every time I try to make these, the batter pours over the pan in the oven:( what am I doing wrong?

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Rose February 15, 2014 at 10:31 am

Loved this recipe! However I didn’t actually make them into cake balls instead I just made the chocolate cake recipe and then dipped them in melted chocolate with coconut oil and it was simply delicious!

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Madlyn February 18, 2014 at 9:21 am

would brown rice flour or buckwheat or spelt work ok? or do you think it would affect the taste/texture?

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jen March 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

just made this as a cake! baked perfectly at 25 mins. and then i topped it off with your buttercream icing.

husband doesn’t even like cake, but LOVED this.

thank you! thank you! your recipes are such a blessing.

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laurel May 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

would you consider putting carb counts with your recipes. My daughter is type on diabetic and we carb count to calculate insulin. Many thanks

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Mariola June 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

I used regular flour but these t.urned out so good! Everyone at work thought they were amazing

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Jacqui June 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm

These are amazing and delicious!!! Wonderful recipe and such a great way to salvage crumbly cake!
Do you have any tips or tricks for getting the chocolate coating so even and smooth looking? Mine do not come nearly as pretty as yours do. Thanks!

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Rachel July 23, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I just made these for a friend’s birthday…and had to taste one. They are AMAZING!!!!!

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Sim July 31, 2014 at 9:04 am

Its the first time in about a year of not eating glutin or dairy that we had a real cake that actualy tasts good !!!!! ( iv tried so many recapies )Thank you so much . came out amaizing twice alredy. Going to make it again naw .

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Paige January 19, 2015 at 12:14 am

HOLY CRAP. I’m not kidding when I say this is THE BEST dessert I have ever made in my entire life! I used coconut cream from trader joes and it worked perfectly! I also used coconut milk instead of almond, and I melted enjoy life chocolate chips for the coating! PERFECTION. They taste so yummy! Thank you for making a dessert I can actually enjoy and eat without having an allergic reaction :)

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Mackenzie February 11, 2015 at 8:57 am

Excited to make these for Valentine’s Day!! Question: do you think I could sub almond flour for the all-purpose GF flour?

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Alicia March 13, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Ummm…the batter—it’s freakin’ amazing! I only know how the batter tastes because I’m in the process of making these now.

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Emily May 24, 2015 at 9:57 pm

These were a reading success at my daughter’s princess party this weekend! I’m not a cake lover, but these just might change my mind! Love them z and this blog! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Sammie May 31, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I love these “cake pops”! They are the best just like every other recipe I’ve tried!

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Cate August 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm

do you need to whip the solid part of the coconut milk before adding it to the recipe? Like in your whipped coconut cream post? Or just scoop it out of the can and add it like that?

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Kay March 22, 2017 at 11:56 am

Do you have this recipe minus all things coconut… food allergy here…:-(

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Dale Wheeler January 21, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Do you know if I could freeze these? I am making all the desserts for my daughters wedding in July and we have many vegan and vegetarian guests. Wanting to make ahead and freeze what treats have you frozen from your recipes I have your app as well as both of your cookbooks.
Thank you

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 26, 2018 at 9:14 am

Hey Dale, I’m so sorry for the late reply to your comment! I missed it somehow. I haven’t tried freezing these before so I’m not sure. I think cake can generally be frozen though if wrapped properly? I’d suggest doing a test run to see how it goes! My chooclate cupcakes are big hits and those can be frozen: http://ohsheglows.com/2016/05/12/fail-proof-vegan-chocolate-cupcakes-with-salted-buttercream/ There is also a “freezer-friendly” category in my second cookbook, so the cookie and dessert chapters will let you know which ones are freezer-friendly at the top of each recipe. Hope this helps!

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