Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Creamy Cashew Icing

As a self-confessed chocolate addict, I love Easter. It’s rare that I make a straight-up chocolate cake, and Easter is one of the few times that I do. Invariably, these cakes get smothered in icing and topped with mini eggs -what’s not to love? Plus, now that family time is something that happens less often, there’s a real feeling of coming-togetherness around tea and cake.

After trying a quinoa cake a couple of months ago, I was keen to get experimenting on making my own. And no, I don’t mean flour or ground quinoa, but actual cooked quinoa. I’m not sure who first thought it up, but it’s genius; the pseudo grain adds a real fudgy consistency whilst also keeping the cake from falling apart. I’m still working on making it vegan-friendly, as egg replacers are often tricky to get right.

As much as I love icing, I often find it a bit too much, with a slight aftertaste of slightly too-warm butter. Cashew icing gives a rich icing, and needs less sugar to make up the volume of frosting needed without missing out on taste. I here discovered that decorating is harder than it looks: I had envisioned a particular design, but it looked rubbish so went for the classic “scatter everything on”. If you can, leave decorating until shortly before serving if you don’t want to end up with dissolving mini eggs like me…

Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Cashew Icing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A rich dairy- and gluten-free chocolate cake.
For the cake
  • 280g / 2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup of dried quinoa should make plenty)
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 200g / 1 cup sugar (I like golden caster or coconut sugar for the taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 125ml / ½ cup neutral- or sweet-tasting oil (if using coconut, make sure it is in a liquid state)
  • 60g / ¼ cup cacao powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • For the icing
  • 150g / 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour in water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 60ml / ¼ cup oat or soy cream
  • 50g / ¼ cup icing sugar or powdered stevia
  • 40g / 4 tsbp cacao powder
  • Optional: 1 tbsp coconut oil or vegan spread (gives the icing a slightly firmer "set")
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180'C, and grease and line two loose-bottom cake tins.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, blitz together the cooked quinoa and egg to smooth out the quinoa grains.
  3. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend.
  4. Sift together the cacao, baking powder and salt, and slowly pour the wet mix into the cacao, stirring as you do.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean and the top springs back from being touched.
For the icing
  1. Whilst the cake cools, drain the cashews and add to a food processor.
  2. Blitz for a couple of minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, continuing to blend and scrape until the mixture is smooth; the more powerful your food processor, the smoother it will be.
  4. Spread half of the icing on the bottom cake, and half on the top layer, and decorate.