There are blueberries in this chocolate blueberry cake, a dark, delicious, dense, and almost brownie-like dessert.
There’s something peaceful about picking blueberries, even when you have to stand on a ladder to do it. If you get up early enough, before the sun has a chance to set itself on Broil and the air still has a hint of morning cool, you can enjoy the bird songs as you hunt for the elusive “bigger berries” among the top branches of a 15-foot-tall bush/tree.
For about 15 minutes. Then the realization sets in that the berries haven’t even reached the 1-quart line in your gallon bucket, the shady sides of the bushes have the fewest berries, and that bird whose nest you’re picking around sounds mad, really mad.
Still, picking berries is something E and I look forward to every summer, more so this year because we missed last summer after our favorite pick-your-own farm went out of business. So when a friend recommended another orchard, smaller but with a friendly owner who trusts people to leave the $6 per gallon charge under a bucket while he takes a breakfast break, we made plans to get up early and get out there the next day, bringing our house guest, E’s friend G, along with us for an extra set of picking hands.
We managed to pick a gallon apiece, which seemed a good idea until I got home with 3 gallons of blueberries and nothing to do with them. I decided to freeze two-thirds of them, so as soon as I got them home, I laid six kitchen towels out on my counters and kitchen table, spread out the berries, and started picking through them to remove stems, leaves, crushed berries, and the occasional spider.
The berries were damp with morning dew and condensation, so I left them out on the counter to dry completely. After a couple of hours of drying, I pulled up the edges of the towels and funneled the berries into gallon-sized freezer bags and popped them into the freezer. I did not wash the berries, which would have made them wetter, so we’ll have to wash them as we use them.
That still left a gallon of berries to eat up, so we started off by having blueberry pancakes for dinner, and for lunch the next day, I made blueberry vinaigrette for my salad. But neither of those meals put a dent in the shelf full of berries in my fridge. The girls were clamoring for a blueberry dessert, and I vaguely remembered a recipe I’d seen in Better Homes and Gardens that used blueberries in a chocolate cake. A quick internet search found it, Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake, the winner of BHG’s Annual Recipe Challenge.
The photo was beautiful, and the idea of blueberries in chocolate cake batter was intriguing, but the recipe wasn’t vegan because of its use of egg and light whipped dessert topping nor was it fat-free because of the semisweet chocolate. So I used the basic idea for the cake and omitted the delicious-looking chocolate topping in favor of simple blueberries with a swirl of agave nectar. I also cut the sugar in half and used a new-to-me sweetener, organic date syrup, which really helped amplify the chocolate taste.
The cake turned out dark, delicious, dense, and almost brownie-like; the predominant flavor is chocolate, the blueberry flavor coming mainly from the berries on top. Because it’s less sweet than most chocolate cakes, I considered it more of an “adult” dessert and worried that the kids wouldn’t like it, but both girls devoured their pieces and then demanded seconds.
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (white whole wheat preferred)
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds or flax seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup date syrup , maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
- 1 cup blueberries (for serving)
- additional syrup or agave nectar to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, chia (or flax) and salt. In blender, combine water, 1/2 cup blueberries, and balsamic vinegar and blend until smooth.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add the syrup and the blueberry mixture. Stir until completely mixed. Pour into an oiled 9-inch round cake pan.
- Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before inverting onto serving platter.
- Serve with blueberries on top, drizzled with additional syrup or agave. (I recommend agave for drizzling.)
Nutritional info is approximate.
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mariscaJune 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm
Made this cake last night; substituted agave nectar for the maple syrup and used ground flax seeds. Everything else in the recipe, I followed exactly. Since my oven tends to run on the hot side, I cooked for 25 minutes. It came out very moist and delicious! Oh, and it was super easy to mix up. My husband is finishing it off tonight. Thank you so much for all these wonderful recipes!
AMJuly 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm
I made this cake for dessert tonight and I can’t say I was much of a fan. It was completely devoid of sweetness and the only resemblance to chocolate was that it was brown. Thumbs down.
Jillian (Birds and Baking)July 4, 2012 at 10:28 am
Blueberry trees!? I guess I’ve never seen cultivated blueberry bushes… I’m used to picking them from wild plants (hardly big enough to call a bush!) usually less than a foot high!
I found this post via Pinterest; the cake looks tasty!
Julia ShuttJuly 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm
I made this the other day and was a little disappointed that it was dry…..I poured some almond milk on it, which helped a little. Any suggestions for making this good idea more moist??
ShariJuly 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm
This was SO GOOD! My boyfriend and I loved it. It’s just the two of us in the house so we knew couldn’t eat this all before it went stale. We ended up freezing half of it and it froze really well. Will definitely be making this again and again!
JanaJuly 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm
Hey, that recipe sounds delicious! I will try it as soon as possible. But I have one question: Do you think it would make a big difference if I used a 10 inch cake pan? I only have that cake pan… (I live in Germany, I guess the size of the pans differs a bit because of the differences between inch and cm.) Thanks for your help! 🙂
Gail EliseJuly 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm
This looks absolutely perfect! Almost too perfect to eat…almost!
NickyJuly 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Made it twice now. Looks great and tastes even better!
Everyone loved it!
Thank you Susan
ruchikaAugust 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm
Just had a question.. does the recipe for require and form of butter/oil fat? thanks!
VeenaOctober 20, 2012 at 10:27 am
i am reading and reading and reading again to make sure i hv not missed any ingredient. It is sitting in my oven now, fingers crossed!
DeniseJanuary 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm
This is a wonderful recipe for a treat. I made it for New Year’s Eve, but I put the berries inside. A little batter, the berries, the rest of the batter. It came out wonderfully moist and delicious. The berries don’t roll off that way. Love this one for a special treat!!
Sheri EastmanMay 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Thanks for your comment Denise. I will try this next time.
salmaJanuary 26, 2013 at 12:30 am
hi… can i ommit the balsamic vinegar?
Susan VoisinJanuary 26, 2013 at 9:15 am
You must replace it with some other type of vinegar because if you omit it completely, the cake won’t rise properly.
Aya ShulawFebruary 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm
Thank you so much for your wonderful work on your web site. I wanted to make Chocolate cup cake yesterday for Valentine’s Day, but I did not want to make same one as I made last year, because of oil. I found your recipe! As I did not have all ingredients, I could not follow all, but it turned so delicious! Your recipe is so good.
NoraApril 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm
Looks delish! Can I use frozen instead of fresh blueberries? Also, I don’t have white whole wheat flour so can I do half all-purpose and half whole wheat? What if I did 1/2 c. white and 1/2 c. whole with 1/4 c. brown rice? Sorry for the confusion, but variety is the spice of life!
Susan VoisinApril 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm
Nora, I haven’t tried any of those combinations of flour, but they probably will work. Feel free to experiment. 🙂
Sheri EastmanMay 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm
I just made this cake. I drizzled it with agave and my three year old enjoyed it. next time I will add some additional blueberries, apples, or oranges. This recipe is a keeper since I routinely have the necessary ingredients at home.
SarahJuly 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm
I bought a quart of blueberries at a farmstand yesterday with the intent of eating them plain because i figured i couldn’t eat any of the dishes I would make with them. …then this popped up on facebook and i happened to have all the ingredients in my kitchen. I used decaf coffee in place of the water and made cupcakes because i seem to have problems with things sticking to the pan, but that just meant they were ready to eat faster and preportioned 🙂 Also for those asking about using half wheat and half white wheat. I did because i was running out of the white whole wheat flour and they were still good.
Susan VoisinJuly 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm
I’m so glad you liked them, and that they work as cupcakes. 🙂
ChickpeaJuly 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm
Looks delicious. I don’t use wheat and was wondering if light spelt flour would work with the same amounts? If not I may use buy millet flour that someone else mentioned. Thanks
mandyhegartyJuly 27, 2013 at 11:35 pm
Does this recipe work with other berries such as raspberries?
Susan VoisinJuly 28, 2013 at 6:50 am
I haven’t tried it with other berries, but I don’t see why not.
KatherineAugust 12, 2013 at 9:37 am
This has been my go-to vegan chocolate recipe for a while, but last night I tweaked it a bit and it turned out even richer!
Instead of 3/4 water, I used 3/4 hot black coffee. I’ve read that the flavour of the coffee elevates the richness of the chocolate, so I figured – why not try it out? And my gosh the results were so delicious!
AstridAugust 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm
Thank you for all the yummy recipes.
Is this (lovely looking) cake still tasting nice the next day?
Rose BowlerAugust 25, 2014 at 7:19 pm
Looking forward to trying this. Where I live we crawl around on hands and knees to pick blue berries.
I had to look on web, I couldn’t believe your comments on ladders, I thought you were speaking ” tongue in cheek”.
Silvia AJune 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm
Tried this cake for Father’s Day, and it turned out incredible!! I was a bit worried because the batter seemed quite tough, almost the consistency of brownies, and I was afraid it would come out dry. I was gladly mistaken! It was very moist and delicious and I also found a vegan chocolate glaze for it. Just mix 2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder with 2 tbsp of almond or soy milk and 2 tbsp of margarine as well as 1/4 or 1/3 cup of agave syrup. Pop it into the microwave for 25 seconds or until it is fully melted and drizzle it on the cake. It came out amazing! I just topped the cake with some raspberries and banana chunks and luckily the glaze also acted as a glue to hold the toppings in place. Great to know there are vegan alternatives to classic, decadent desserts!
SusanAugust 22, 2016 at 8:37 pm
Thank you Susan – another great recipe! I used 1/4 cup of almond flour, 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour. The cake was so moist! Will definitely be making again.
CakenGifts.inMay 15, 2017 at 5:47 am
After reading this article, It is very easy to make. We have prepared this cake many times, because our children loves it very much. It is too tasty!!!!!!!!! we made it on last Sunday..
DonaFebruary 14, 2018 at 1:30 am
Have made this twice now, it would have to be the most decadently delicious cake I have ever tasted! First time I didn’t let it cool in the tin before turning out and it fell to pieces (it was still delicious!) second time perfection. Have photo not sure how to post 🙁
Susan VoisinFebruary 14, 2018 at 8:16 am
If you email a photo to susan@ FatFreevegan dot com, I’ll try to add it to your comment. I’m happy to hear how much you like it!
Shelly SinghaniaMarch 26, 2018 at 1:07 pm
I am not vegan free person. So instead of water can i use milk??
instead of balsamic vinegar can i use regular or apple cider vinegar??
N what is agave??
JulieJune 3, 2018 at 7:07 am
I made this cake along with your chocolate zucchini brownie recipe for a vegan birthday party. Both were eaten and LOVED by young (4-71 yr. ) and old people who are following and some not following a plant based diet. Since the birthday honoree loves chocolate and peanut butter I had some extra peanut butter frosting (vegan) left over so put that on top of the brownies followed by your frosting in the recipe and it was yummy. On the chocolate cake,, I added a very small layer of chocolate ganache so the blueberries would “stick” to the cake. I then put sliced strawberries around the cake on the serving plate and it looked so pretty! Wish I had thought to take a picture of the finished cake- will do so next time.
Quick question- in the cake could I swap out diced dates for the 1/4 of sugar?
Thanks for such yummy recipes- love your blog and site.
AlisonJuly 23, 2018 at 10:45 am
Susan, I love your recipes so much and this was SO good. I actually omitted the flax seed and liquid sweetener. I used Lakanto instead and added about 1/2 cup organic unsweetened applesauce. I also used cider vinegar instead of balsamic and an additional 1/2 cup of blueberries the batter verses adding it on top for serving. It was delicious! Mine rang in at just 20 calories a piece!… caught myself eating 4 at a time, HA! I used an 8×8 and cut into 16. Thank You for this fabulous recipe and ALL of your amazing recipes!
Alanna LaytonJuly 15, 2019 at 1:21 pm
Thank you so much for this DELICIOUS recipe!! It is super easy to make (I’m 17 and I made it with my younger sister) and doesn’t leave us with any guilt. My dad has been a no-oil vegan since 2016 and my family has been searching for a decent cake recipe ever since. I’m so glad that I found this one, it more than exceeded my expectations and has since become a family favorite! Since my family is not much of a whole wheat flour fan, I blended rolled oats into oat flour and the cake still turned out beautifully. Thanks again for this awesome recipe! 🙂
Lucie BJanuary 25, 2020 at 6:21 pm
This was a superb recipe and all the non-vegan diners around our table loved it too.
I didn’t have the blueberries that I thought were in my freezer so a mix of frozen raspberries and cherries were used in the cake. I topped it with whipped vegan cream and a raspberry coulis and it was the most delicious dessert!
Tina MorseMarch 29, 2022 at 3:09 pm
Good but tasted rather gritty. I made sure the blueberries were blended completely smooth, but still gritty. Like a little bit crunchy which I doubt it is how it’s supposed to be.