Vegan Chocolate Orange Cakes

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 1 vote

Vegan chocolate orange cake is so rich and delicious without any gluten or refined sugar. Perfect for a special occasion.

Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).
Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).
Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassof

I needed this vegan chocolate cake recipe in my life. Mostly because: cake, but also because its inherent virtuousness (still talking abut cake) really uplifted and inspired me.

I used to focus a lot of energy on making vegan desserts that were also somewhat nutritionally virtuous. I would exasperate myself beyond belief doing it! (see these cookies) I don’t have the patience for the trials and errors of baking, especially when you start taking away gluten, sugar etc. I told myself that if I was going to enjoy a treat, I would just make it an all caps, full-on, sugar and everything T-R-E-A-T. I reassured myself that hearty savouries were my strong suit, and that healthy desserts weren’t worth my time and energy anymore.

But this cake. It’s fudge-y, dense, undeniably chocolaty with so much beautiful fragrance from fresh orange, and it’s easy to make! It’s also entirely sweetened with a mix of dates , applesauce, and orange juice. Another thing: it’s gluten-free! And vegan, obviously. The level of achievement this cake ascends to… it’s exhausting and awesome.

And I can’t even take credit for it! The recipe is from the brand new cookbook by Anya Kassoff of the Golubka Kitchen blog, with transcendent photography by her daughter Masha Davydova. I’m very bad at staying up to date with everything in blog land, but I always check when Anya has updates. Her recipes hit the right note of produce-focused, perfectly attuned to what level of satisfaction the season demands, and very smart flavor pairings.

I had seen an earlier galley of Simply Vibrant, but I didn’t know how much I needed this dose of inspiration until the physical book showed up at my door. We’re in that deep, lingering last stretch of Winter, and I’m admittedly slipping into a staid routine with all of our meals. Anya’s style speaks to exactly what we’re all craving I think: seasonal shifts on international flavours, streamlined and intuitive cooking methods, and a nourishing plant-powered undercurrent that is present but not in-your-face.

Even the section breakdown of the book speaks to the way that I think a lot of us find ourselves eating these days (Morning Porridges & Pancakes, Salads & Bowls, Just Veggies, and a chapter devoted to Noodles, Pasta & Pizza, among others).  Recipes I’m looking at for the near future Broccoli Stem Riceless Risotto, the Gluten-Free Onion Pizza Crust technique, Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Rainbow Chard and Pine Nuts, and the Tomato and Eggplant Green Mung Dal.

I can tell you with certainty that Anya’s recipes are foolproof. For a person that owns many cookbooks and blogs about food for a living, it (surprisingly!) takes a very special body of work to get me to cook from a recipe to a tee night after night. Simply Vibrant inspires me to do that. This book is going to be my new fave for a long time.

Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).
Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).

Vegan Chocolate Orange Cake

Vegan chocolate orange cake is so rich and delicious without any gluten or refined sugar. Perfect for a special occasion.
5 from 1 vote
The Perfect Vegan Chocolate Cake (vegan + gluten-free, date-sweetened) from "Simply Vibrant" - The First Mess
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 10 mini bundts



  • 1 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil, at room temperature, plus extra for oiling the pan
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • zest of 1-2 oranges
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  • ¼ cup finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon neutral coconut oil


  • Anya’s original recipe calls for one big bundt cake, and I’ve left the baking time/instructions for that version here. If you have mini bundts like I do (this pan by Nordic Ware), I’ll let you know that I got 10 total out of this recipe, and that they took about 18-20 minutes to cook.
  • This cake is for lovers of chocolate + orange together. There’s just no way around it!
  • Skip the chocolate sauce glaze at the end if you want this to be totally sugar-free.
  • To make this nut-free, I recommend replacing the almond flour with sunflower seed flour, which I talk about making in this post. Anya notes that you can just use more brown rice flour as well!
  • Anya suggests garnishing the cake with chopped pistachios and more orange zest. I used dried rose petals because I was out of pistachios, but also because ROMANCE.


  • Soak the dates in hot purified water for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil.
  • Combine the flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in a large bowl; mix thoroughly.
  • Reserve ½ cup of the date soaking water and add it to a blender along with the drained dates and orange juice; blend until smooth. Add the applesauce, coconut oil, and balsamic vinegar, and pulse to combine. Pour the date mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, transfer it to the oven, and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand.
  • Make the glaze: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler setup until liquified and combined. Pour the glaze over the vegan chocolate orange cake and garnish as you please (more orange zest, chopped pistachios or dried rose petals).
10/02/2018 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, dessert, gluten free, holidays, refined sugar-free, spring, sweet, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Amalia

    My go to recipe is the Glory Bowl with the sauce from Whitewater cooks in BC. I’m drooling just thinking about it now!

  • Micah

    I absolutely LOVE tahini and make tahini sauces to drizzle on my food often. If I get a little more creative and add fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, etc. and blend it with the tahini, I’m always brought back to remembering that I love being in the kitchen!

  • Sussi

    Such beautiful bundts! What gets me out of a cooking rut is making a sauce or dressing – a variation of Isa’s roast pepper and almond is the kick start and then whatever is on hand becomes the meal

  • Irena Młynarska

    Lentil soups – classic Dal and its numerous variations with brown or green lentils and different sets of spices, which gives completely different, sometimes unexpected but always tasty result at the end.

  • Imola

    OMG, this recipe comes so handy as I was looking for a healthy, sugar-less cake for my two-year-old’s birthday. These days we normally prefer bowl-type dishes, so she can pick whatever she wants. That said, yesterday I made your saffron chickpea and rice soup, and she loved it! So comforting in this cold weather!

  • Katherine | Beloved Kitchen

    Thanks for the post and for introducing this beautiful new book! When I get into a cooking rut I tend to go back to one of my favourite cookbooks, which lately has been Feast by Sarah Copeland. Her recipes (like mushroom almond milk soup) always seem to do the trick!

  • Yessenia

    My favorite recipe to make would be any kind of soup. Just making the soup you’ll look forward to it, and it’ll warm your soul!!!

  • WB

    My fave get-me-out-of a rut recipe is a vegetarian take on harira, a Moroccan soup. The combination of spices, lentils and chickpeas, and lots and lots of cilantro warms my tummy…and tastebuds!

  • Giselle

    I break out my juicer! It reminds me how fresh citrus can smell and taste and how beautiful green can be.

  • Shoshanna

    Vegetable soup is my go to for when I am in a rut! Using up veggies in the fridge to make something delicious and healthy always remimds me that simple ingredients can be made into something amazing. Expecially when cooking for my mother who need heathly fresh food with her illness! Love the plant based recipes!!

  • leah

    Grain bowls – gets me into the kitchen, I can start chopping and roasting all of the things, and during this time I usually end up coming up with different sauce ideas or other recipes. Afterward, I’m left with a healthy bounty of food and motivation to make something new!

  • Connie McNally

    A raw veggie pad thai always does it for me. So fresh and vibrant, and a flexible recipe, since it’s really the sauce that makes it pad thai, so whatever fresh I have on hand will do, regular noodles, veggie noodles, seeds, edamame, etc.

  • Alana

    My It all depends on the season, but right now it’s the shredded kale cranberry salad from oh she glows. I want it all of the time!

  • Melanie

    Broth based soup does it everytime for me. It is so versatile, you can use whatever herbs and vegetables are in season, add noodles or not, lots of options or keep it simple. Leave it chunky or blend it smooth. This cake recipe looks and sounds delicious. Thank you for the inspiration and for sharing this recipe with us. Enjoy the journey.

  • Stephanie

    When I’m in a rut, I love to make an elaborate ramen — soft boiled egg or baked tofu, lots of veggies and herbs, ginger, garlic chili sauce, etc. I almost always have plenty of ingredients on hand to whip some variation together, and I’ve been making different versions since I was in middle school so I’m pretty good at it by now ;)

  • jamie dehner

    I’m not sure I’ve got a recipe to get me out of a rut…they do come along…like writer’s block. I generally look to blogs and recipes at that point and that’s a sure fire help. Just seeing ideas from different peoples and cultures gives you a different spin on “the same old” ingredients – the garden is often an inspiration too but nothing helps like seeing someone put a very different face on things you already enjoy and make. This is a nice recipe, by the way. I appreciate the minimal oil and use of dates for sweetening. :-)

  • Karen H

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful, healthy recipe. I love chocolate and orange together.

    The recipes that get my family and me out of a rut are 1) salad, with refried beans, salsa and guacamole – so simple, 2) Vietnamese spring rolls (salad, cucumber, carrots, tofu, etc rolled in a rice paper and dipped in peanut sauce).

  • Mira

    It sounds boring, but making a good kale salad is definitely a go-to to get me out of an eating rut. Making dinner for friends helps me get out of a cooking rut more than any recipe though!

  • Laren

    Your weeknight root vegetable dal and soup that you add any veggies and cannellini beans to (can’t remember the name ha) always inspire me to get out of a rut because I get to mix and match the veggies I have in my fridge with the knowledge it is going to turn out great no matter what! I also have your dal recipe memorized so that makes things more fun, too.

  • Shira Isenberg

    Making a multi-step recipe always gets me out of a cooking rut. It takes a long time, but always worth it!

  • Amélie

    I love pearl barley risotto!

  • Breanne

    If I get in a cooking rut, I either find something fun to bake or get a pre-made meal from Trader Joes, realize I can do better, and start cooking again. :)

  • stacey bradford

    Baked goods, mainly banana bread. It’s a great break from the day to day routine

  • Luna

    Any kind of porridge-like grain-vegetable-bowls, soups, or kitchari. Something deep flavoured and warming, spicy. I could eat it all day long – in fact I do most of the time. Thank you for this chocolate-inspiration!

  • Erin Miller

    This book looks GORGEOUS! My favorite “getting out of a cooking slump” recipe usually involves a fridge-cleanout stir fry. Any and all vegetables I have on hand thrown together in a pan (sauce optional) over some brown rice. Suddenly I feel like a productive home cook again! ;)

  • Marie

    Fresh herbs and umami packed ingredients (miso, olives, capers..) usually get me out of my cooking rut.

  • Anna

    Some sort of Asian or Indian inspired dish is what always get me out of a rut!
    This recipe looks really good, will be making it soon in my doughnut pan!

  • Leah

    This cookbook looks so amazing! I’d have to say the recipe that gets me most out of a cooking rut is red lentil dahl. It’s so easy, quick and moldable to whatever you have on hand! I love serving it with spicy roasted sweet potatoes :)

  • Sandy

    I love to make roasted beets when I’m in a cooking rut— they are so pretty!


    Usually some great Indian or Thai style dish gets me out of the rut. The scents and flavors ar just so intoxicating and make me smile and that turns that frown upside down…

  • Audrey

    A big, creative salad!

  • Marie Christodulaki

    Spicy Ayurvedic rice pilaf! Thinking about what spices to use depending on the season, my mood and general health is always an inspiring and grounding way to look after myself.

  • Victoria n

    I LOVE that mini bundts pan!
    The 2 recipes that get me out of any rut is Thai quinoa balls and beet-za pizza!
    Thai both have enough elements that you can play around with flavours to make them familiar but different flavour emphasis each time. It always starts my brain to have a tangent to how I want to eat it next time and that normally pro,puts me for a new craving and to think of new things to eat :)

  • Ruthy

    In a rut either this delicious grain-free vegan lasagna concoction that I’ve started sprinkling with a delicious topping inspired by the parmesan in your fabulous cookbook :) or any one of my grandma’s life-changing recipes!!

  • Bianca T

    experimenting with vegan baking!!

  • Candice

    Yes chocolate and orange – forever together :) For me, a good thick chocolate chip cookie will always get me out of that rut.
    But if I’m going savoury, it’s sourdough avocado toast with a crispy fried egg – not original but always satisfying!

  • Molly

    beautiful photos of what sounds like a delicious cake! the farmer’s market usually takes me out of a food rut, but I usually just end up roasting whatever it is, like I do everything else :)

  • anna

    My go to when I just need a quick baking/cooking fix is granola! there’s soooooooo many creative combinations and I love the snackage I can indulge in right when it comes out of the oven:)

  • Isabelle

    This beautiful post popped up in my inbox this morning and immediately caught my attention with the combo of orange + chocolate!!
    I can always get out of an eating/cooking rut with a flavorful recipe of vegan quinoa Caesar salad, especially if I’ve made the quinoa in advance! ;)

  • Mimi Chau

    These cakes look dreamy. One dish that helps me get out of a cooking rut is a warm and comforting soup with plenty of veggies and legumes

  • Marta

    Hi Laura!
    These mini bundts are sooo cute! I need to get me a similar mould! I love baking cookies and cakes. Anything with chocolate chips (more like chunks!) and toasted nuts. And buckwheat flour, which makes everything taste amuhzing! <3

  • Libby Sullivan

    I like looking at the cookbook Jerusalem when I’m in a cooking rut. I particularly liked the root veggie slaw recipe recently.

  • Renée

    Just reading your description of the book gets me excited to cook. When I’m in a rut, I sit down with my fave cookbooks and I look for something I haven’t tried and make it on Sunday. That’s a good way for me to start the weekly food prep with more enthusiasm.

  • Anna

    In such moments I make the onion soup from your cookbook and feel as if I was a cook working in a pricey restaurant ;)

  • Lori

    When I get in a cooking rut, it’s usually when I try to get too “fancy”,meaning too many complicated recipes that take too long to make and leave me frustrated. Returning to old favorites gets me back into the “fun” part of cooking with results guaranteed to please the whole family. Then I can start to try new things again. Thanks for the give away, would LOVE LOVE new cookbook!

  • Sherry

    Rose petals! Such a beautiful touch on this gorgeous-looking cake, Laura, which I will be making this week, you can be certain. Oh yes, it’s the time of year when those routines that seemed comforting in recent months are starting to wear a bit. I’ve been feeling it too (but how unsurprising to find my own seasonal moods reflected back again from this favourite of blogs). I am not sure there is just one recipe that overcomes this slump, although the bowl approach can help, since it’s so infinitely variable; North African and Middle Eastern cuisines have a combined brightness and richness that is inspiring when things are dull; maybe the best trick, though, is to step away from the screen for just a moment to page through some of my cookbooks, which are often neglected these days in favour of online recipe sources (I suppose that would seem to include this site, but I DO, happily, have the First Mess book on my shelf too!). There is always a trove of things I’ve meant to try but never have, alongside things I’ve enjoyed in past and forgotten about. Both are exciting! Thanks so very much for the delightful giveaway, and the prompt to think again about how to re-inspire ourselves.

  • Kristen

    Stir fry. So simple and the ingredients can change to my whims :)

  • Marisa Smeraldi

    Would the measurements stay the same if i just used regular flour? I’m lazy and cheap and not concerned about gluten…