Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

When it comes to chocolate and peanut butter, I may have a problem. First there was the oatmeal, then the pancakes, and now a full-blown cake. These flavors are so irresistible together that my addiction might start to get out of hand. I guess we can let this last one slide, but if you see me making another chocolate peanut butter recipe in the near future, you might want to think about staging an intervention…

This cake itself is a basic, low-fat chocolate variety (adapted from Happy Herbivore Light and Lean) which is fairly healthy-tasting and even a little dry. But that’s a good thing – the subtle chocolatey fluffiness of the cake is the perfect backdrop for the real star: an incredible chocolate peanut butter icing that you can make with only real ingredients in under two minutes. By itself, this icing is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I just eat it by the spoonful or refrigerate in cupcake liners until I have peanut butter cups. Like I said: intervention.

Kidding aside, I’m actually very happy with the nutritional profile of this cake. No, you might not want to make a steady diet out of it, and it does have some sugar and fat, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a cake with more nutrients that tastes this good.

Peanut Butter Cake

Makes 9 servings


  • 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt

Peanut Butter Cake Crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375º F

Step One

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt). Sifting is important here because it removes any clumps in the flour or cocoa powder and integrates the ingredients much more consistently, yielding a fluffier cake.

Step Two

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (non-dairy milk, sugar, apple sauce, coconut oil, vinegar, and vanilla) and whisk together until fully incorporated. And yes, sugar counts as a wet ingredient; by dissolving it in the liquid first, it prevents the mixture from activating too much gluten, again, yielding a fluffier and less rubbery cake.

Step Three

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix together. Do not over mix the batter, simply whisk or fold together a few times until most of the dry/wet ingredients have been mixed (a few small clumps are okay). Then add this to a lightly-oiled 8×8 inch pan and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Step Four: The Icing

Meanwhile, make that icing! It’s so simple, all you need is approximately equal parts coconut butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, and cocoa powder. I typically don’t even measure and just taste as I go along. To make, simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and use a double boiler (or even the microwave) to slowly warm the ingredients. This should melt into a smooth liquid consistency that will quickly solidify at room temperature (and make excellent peanut butter cups). But when used for icing, I often add 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil to give it an extra smooth and rich consistency.

Remove the cake when done, allow to cool, and simply spread the warm icing over the cake and enjoy! I don’t know how long it will keep (refrigerated) because I’ve never had leftovers for long enough to find out. That intervention is starting to sound like a good idea…

Peanut Butter Cake Slice

The above pictures are totally unrealistic. Your version will probably look more like this…

Peanut Butter Cake Fork


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  1. I’m not a vegan, but I am a no sugar kinda person/low-glycemic, and I was wondering…If I can replace the balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar, and the maple syrup with brown rice syrup and the brown sugar with coconut sugar. I could, but any thoughts on how you think it would turn out???

  2. Hi Anita, I think all those substitutions would work from a baking standpoint. I actually used coconut sugar for this myself.

  3. After seeing this recipe I ran home and the frosting before running to my next destination (no time for the entire cake? frosting will do!) and it was fabulous! I enjoyed dipping slightly frozen banana chunks in it. 🙂 Can’t wait to make the entire cake!

  4. Hi! This recipe sounds awesome, I want to make this cake for my boyfriend in his birthday 🙂 But I have a question: what can I use instead of apple sauce? And, can I use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar? Would that work? 🙂

    • Hi Karen, well the applesauce basically just helps cut down on the amount of oil needed. You *could* add a little extra oil in its place, or if you want it keep it healthier, a mashed banana would also work. Yes, you can definitely use ACV instead of balsamic. Good luck! 🙂

  5. I have been craving cake. Chocolate cake!! So I came to your website and did a search. I was super pleased to find this. Of course I had to make it immediately. One word… Perfect!!! This will be my go to cake recipe. By the way I love the simplicity of the recipe search. If I have an ingredient on hand I want to use or some crazy craving I just simply type it in the recipe search bar and walla… perfect recipe.I will be making your peach pancakes tomorrow morning to put the peaches I have to use. Thank you so much for this recipe.

    • Very cool, Kathy! I’m glad this cake recipe worked well for you – and thanks for the nice comments about my site 🙂

  6. Made this yesterday. The cake was super moist and the icing is to die for. I used coconut sugar and half a cup of apple sauce. Drizzled extra peanut butter on top of the icing. Thank-you. This is now my favorite chocolate cake.

  7. This recipe is amazing! I have struggled recently with vegan baking and was mustering the energy to try one more time and these worked out perfectly and are exactly what I’ve been craving for. Will definitely make these again and spread the word about this recipe. Thank you so much, this are absolutely delicious!

  8. Totally amazing! The cake is soft and fluffy, the frosting is incredibly rich and delicious. I’ll be making this one again. I used brown rice flour to make it gluten free and it worked perfectly.

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