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German Chocolate Cake

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German Chocolate Cake is a cake my mom made when I was a kid. Her version used wheat flour but when memories of this cake came up during a family discussion I decided I’d make a gluten free version.

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A German Chocolate Cake made with cooked quinoa, no flour at all.

German Chocolate

If you have ever baked you are likely familiar with Baker’s chocolate sold in boxes in the baking aisle at every grocery store. Available in unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, dark and white. In the 1950’s one of the choices was German’s sweet chocolate. It was named after Samuel German, an English-American chocolate maker.

Baker’s does not sell German’s chocolate anymore but I didn’t feel obligated to use any particular chocolate for this cake. I just wanted a good gluten free chocolate cake. The traditional filling of coconut, pecans and evaporated milk would transform any cake into the memorable dessert we all had in mind.

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That Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Have you heard of ‘that quinoa chocolate cake’? This is it, a cake made with no flour, just cooked quinoa. The kind you may have in the cupboard to cook in place of rice, or to make a cold salad. It is available at grocery stores everywhere.

I first saw this cake recipe in the popular cookbook Qunioa 365 The Everyday Superfood written by sisters Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. They are local authors and their cookbook is an award winner.

Layer Cakes and Leftovers

When my mom made her German Chocolate Cake it had three layers. This quinoa chocolate cake recipe only makes two layers. You can make your cake with just two layers, I’m sure no one would complain. But I wanted it to look the way my mom made it so I made a three-layer cake.

To get three layers I simply made the recipe twice. After using three layers I put the extra layer in the freezer, perfect for emergency use. Here is my suggestion for that kind of food emergency.

The filling recipe makes a generous portion, too much really for the three-layer cake. But the recipe uses a whole can of evaporated milk and I like recipes that use the whole can (no leftovers there). The excess filling also keeps in the fridge for weeks so I don’t think it’s a problem. Then one night, the night of a food emergency, when you are looking in the fridge you’ll see it. If you did put that single cake layer in the freezer you can make yourself a few pieces of layered cake. Simply cut the cake into four, six or eight wedges. Use the leftover filling and make a few pieces of layered cake. Now that’s what I call leftovers.

Variations for Quinoa Chocolate Cake

This is a year round cake that can be varied with many fillings or your favourite fresh fruits. This is how I made the same recipe for a Valentine’s Day cake.

Heart shaped Quinoa Chocolate Cake surrounded by red fruit
Valentines Quinoa Chocolate Cake -photo credit Jim Little
Quinoa Chocolate Cake with whipped cream and raspberry syrup
Quinoa Chocolate Cake -photo credit Jim Little

Let me know in the comments below if you tried this cake.


⅔ cup white quinoa
1⅓ cups water
⅓ cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup butter, melted
1½ cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1-12 oz can (354ml) evaporated milk
1½ tsp vanilla
1½ cups white sugar
¾ cup butter
7 oz (200g) Angel flake coconut
1½ cups chopped pecans


QUINOA CHOCOLATE CAKE - makes 2 layers
Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave lid on for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a dish to cool. Can be prepared 1 or 2 days in advance. There will be slightly more than the 2 cups of cooked quinoa needed for the cake. (Use it up in a salad.)
Preheat the over to 350F. Lightly grease 2-8” round baking pans. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and lightly grease the paper. Set aside.
In a food processor or blender combine milk, eggs and vanilla.
Add 2 cups cooked quinoa and the melted butter. Process for several minutes until smooth.
Whisk together sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Add the quinoa mixture and stir until combined.
Divide batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans.
Bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan. Can be made a day before assembling the cake.
For a 3 or 4 layer cake make the entire recipe again.
Whisk egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan until mixed.
Add sugar and butter. Cook on medium heat for 12 minutes or until thick and golden brown stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir in coconut and pecans. Mix well.
Cool to desired spreading consistency. Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
Place once cake layer on a pedestal tray.
Carefully spread a generous amount of filling on top of the cake.
Add the second cake layer.
Carefully spread a generous amount of filling on top of the cake.
Add the third cake layer.
Carefully spread a generous amount of filling on top of the cake.


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