Quinoa Chocolate Cake with Nutella Buttercream

I first tried quinoa chocolate cake some years ago at a Peruvian restaurant.  I couldn’t have imagined there was no wheat flour – it was so moist and tasted just like a regular yummy chocolate cake.  This is great, I thought, I can use my quinoa flour to make this!

I googled quinoa flour chocolate cake and discovered that it’s actually made with cooked quinoa and not the flour.  Quinoa in a dessert?  Who would’ve thought you can make such a delicious cake with quinoa?!

Last weekend I finally got around to making this cake…Yay!  I can now check this off my cake baking bucket list!  Wow, it was amazing!  It was as rich and moist as my Devil’s Food Cake, which has always been my go-to chocolate cake recipe.  Now I have an equally tasty alternative for those who are gluten-free!  Hell, this cake is so good that I guarantee all your non-gluten-free family and friends will be asking for more!

The Nutella Butterceam was actually a separate idea, something else that I’d been wanting to make.  It’s always good to have a nice nutella buttercream recipe for when you want to make a birthday cake or something.  I mean, you can’t really go wrong with anything Nutella, can you?!  I had bought a large jar of Nutella that was on sale a couple of months ago, specifically for the purpose of perfecting a buttercream recipe.

And then it dawned on me that I could check two things off my baking bucket list if I frost my cake with nutella buttercream!

I got my cake recipe from here, although this is just one of many recipes I found online that have been adapted from the Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood cookbook by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.

For the cocoa powder, I used black cocoa, which just makes the cake more visually appealing, in my opinion.  I’m a huge fan of black cocoa, which gives chocolate cakes that intensely brown, almost black colour.  It just looks richer and more decadent, don’t you think?

The buttercream is a Swiss meringue buttercream, which is softer, lighter and much less sweet than American buttercream – perfect for me, because I can’t stand sickeningly sweet frostings.  I personally prefer more of a buttery, ever so lightly sweetened taste.  The only change I made to this recipe was adding 50% more nutella.  That sounds like a lot (not that anyone would complain!), but even then, the nutella taste was still pretty subtle, and not too sweet.  On its own (yes, I had a few spoonfuls before I stopped myself), the buttercream was perfect.  However, with the cake, which was also not very sweet, I thought it lacked some sweetness.  Next time I’m going to increase the amount of sugar and possibly try adding even more nutella! 😲 (I came across a few other Nutella buttercream recipes that used 250 grams (1-1/4 cups) of sugar to 130 grams (1/2 cup) of Nutella).

The light and smooth buttercream combined with the dense, chocolaty moistness of the cake make this a cake to die for!



2 cups cooked quinoa
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Buttercream frosting:
113 grams egg whites (from 3 to 4 large eggs)
113 grams granulated sugar
pinch of salt
340 grams (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
195 grams (3/4 cups) Nutella


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 8-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper – this cake is very moist, and it will make removing them much safer.

2. In a blender, combine the milk, eggs and vanilla. Add the cooked quinoa and the melted butter and blend until smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the blender and pulse until well blended.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pans before running a thin knife around the edges and inverting them onto plates.  Set aside.

5. To make the buttercream, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water, as the egg white mixture is heated by the steam).

6. Heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 145-150F, whisking frequently. (You can also test by placing a drop of egg whites on your fingers and rubbing the mixture between your fingers. It should be hot to the touch, and you shouldn’t feel any sugar granules.)

7. Remove the bowl from the heat, and wipe the moisture from the bottom of the bowl.  Using the whisk attachment of your mixer, whip the egg whites on medium high until they become fluffy and double in volume. The bowl should be cool to the touch (this will usually take several minutes).

8. Turn the mixer down to medium low, and add the butter in one spoonful at a time, until it has all been incorporated (If the mixture looks curdled at this point, this is normal. Just keep whipping for a few more minutes until it comes together. If the mixture looks soupy, you can add a few cubes of chilled butter, or stick the whole bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and then continue beating).

9. Once the buttercream has become smooth, add the Nutella and beat until incorporated.  

10. Using an offset spatula, spread the buttercream between the cake layers and on top.  Decorate as desired.


6 responses to “Quinoa Chocolate Cake with Nutella Buttercream

  1. Pingback: Orange and Almond Cake | Divinely Delish·

    • Hi Alene,
      I’ve never tried it with quinoa flour, so I can’t say. I’ve used quinoa flour in cookies but not cakes. I imagine it could work, but you wouldn’t get the same cake texture. You’d also have to play around with the proportions of ingredients. It definitely wouldn’t just be a simple 1:1 substitution. Do let me know how it turns out if you try it with quinoa flour!

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