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Simple, Easy Low Fat Vegan Mexican Chocolate Cake

Updated on September 29, 2010

You have friends coming over and want to make them a delicious treat, BUT...

  • One is vegan
  • Another is on a lowfat diet
  • You're out of eggs, butter, oil, and pretty much all other fresh dessert ingredients
  • You have absolutely NO time

Not to worry! This Mexican chocolate cake recipe I adapted from a Serious Eats adaptation of a Real Simple recipe makes it possible to soldier on even if any/all of these constraints come into play- plus it has a nice cinnamon-chili kick to it, adding some complexity to the basic chocolate cake gig. I hope you enjoy it!

The ingredients are incredibly simple
The ingredients are incredibly simple


Note: I have the ingredients in both weights and measurements.  I strongly recommend measuring ingredients by weight- this leads to uniformity in results and easier cleanup- not to mention faster food prep.  Food scales are cheaper and more accurate/durable than ever these days, so you have no excuse, my dear.  

For the Cake...

  • 212 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups )
  • 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
  • 44 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (1/2 cup) (though I usually use Dutched cocoa powder, natural cocoa powder, which is not treated with alkali, is best in this recipe)
  • 5 grams cinnamon (2 teaspoons)
  • 7 grams baking soda (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 gram fo cayenne pepper or chili powder (1/4 teaspoon - really just a dash)
  • 2 grams salt (1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cold water

... For the Icing:

  • 135 grams powdered sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (1/3 cup)
  • Dash of cinnamon and chili powder
  • 2-4 tablespoons water (add slowly and be conservative- it's easy to add MORE liquid but hard to remedy too much liquid being added)

Line your pan with cocpa powder instead of flour- this makes for extra delicious post-de-caking finger scooping, if you catch my drift.
Line your pan with cocpa powder instead of flour- this makes for extra delicious post-de-caking finger scooping, if you catch my drift.
Add the water slowly and be conservative - the measurement need not be exact...
Add the water slowly and be conservative - the measurement need not be exact...
Add water to the dry ingredients gradually until your desired consistency is reached
Add water to the dry ingredients gradually until your desired consistency is reached
Plop goes the icing!
Plop goes the icing!
DONE.  Now: time to NOM
DONE. Now: time to NOM


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Put a large bowl and a food scale and add all dry ingredients (except cocoa powder) by pouring them slowly in until desired weight is reached- this saves you time and eliminates the need for measuring cups.
  3. Weigh the cocoa powder into a separate bowl.
  4. Butter a pan.
  5. Tip some of the cocoa powder into the pan and move it around until your pan is lined with the powder.
  6. Dump the remaining powder from the bowl and your pan into the mixing bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients.
  7. Blend the dry ingredients together.
  8. Add the vanilla and vinegar at opposite ends of the pan, then pour the cold water over everything and stir together.
  9. Pour the batter into your cake pan, and have at whatever remains - it's not dangerous because there are no raw eggs to get you! Muwahahaaa!
  10. Bake for 30 or 35 minutes (or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean- but be careful not to over-bake, as this lowfat cake runs on the dry side).
  11. Let the cake cool for ten minutes in the pan and a bit longer on a wire rack.
  12. Have at the pan with its delicious, buttery, cocoa-powder-encrusted, still warm and moist coating before washing it. Mmmm.
  13. While you're waiting for the cake to cool, mix together the dry ingredients for the icing, then slowly add the water until the desired consistency is reached. I was in such a rush when I made the icing one time that I didn't even have time to get out all the lumps, and it wasn't too bad, but if you really want smooth icing, blend it with an emersion blender.
  14. Ice the cake- then EAT!!!


Source: Serious Eats

Adapted from Real Simple.

One tenth is a generous serving, and this caloric info factors in icing :)
One tenth is a generous serving, and this caloric info factors in icing :)

Caloric Information

Serves 10

For one serving, there are...

  • Calories: 244
  • Fat: 2g
  • Saturated fat: 0g (nice! eh? eh???)
  • Sodium: 265g
  • Carbohydrate: 54g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 34g
  • Protein: 4g


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

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      5 years ago

      Now if it was like some of the festivals in Spain... they bring in trckus filled with peas, which the drunken young Pea Enthusiasts then proceed to throw at each other.Well, I'd all for that.The modern frozen baby peas are pretty popular in our house. Our kids will pour them cold into a bowl and snack on them.And a "Pie Floater" is popular here. A meat pie swimming in mushy canned peas. All your meat and vegetables in a convenient pre-chewed form.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

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    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 

      6 years ago from Mexico

      Oh my God Simone! You are making me crave for a chocolate cake slice right here right now!!! It looks beyond delicious! Very interesting recipe as well, no eggs? no oil?!!! I will definitely bake this one.

    • everythingdazzles profile image


      7 years ago from Houston

      I am always looking for some good vegetarian recipe ideas. This looks absolutely delicious! Looking forward to trying it out.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Surprisingly, the cayenne pepper just adds a bit of complexity that augments the chocolatey flavor! I hope you have fun with this one. I'm planning on giving it a go in cupcake form, too, and I think this recipe would also do well in simple tartlet form.

    • frogyfish profile image


      7 years ago from Central United States of America

      This sounds great. Does it taste hot using cayenne? I'm going to have to bookmark this recipe! I tend to overbake so thanks for your caution that it tends to be dry.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks Livelonger! The cocoa powder pan dusting is one of my favorite tricks. I bet YOUR Mexican chocolate cake recipe trumps this one, though! This is best for vegans and bakers in a rush / low on ingredients. But it's still tasty!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow...that looks positively delectable. I'm sure the faintest hint of cinnamon and cayenne enhance the overall awesome chocolatiness of this cake. And what a brilliant idea to use cocoa powder to dust the pan!

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Indeed! Nothing should impede the production of chocolate cake- not missing eggs, butter, sugar, flour, or anything else- except for a dearth of chocolate, of course ^_^

      It's fun to find those trick recipes that get one around the missing pieces!

    • World-Traveler profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      This looks delicious. It is nice to know that there are low cal chocolate cake fixings available.


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