Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Esme’s third birthday didn’t fall on one of her “school” days at daycare (yes, I call it school to lessen my guilt, what about it?) but her class wanted to be sure to celebrate her so they threw her a little party a couple of days before. They made her a paper birthday crown and a card that makes me tear up to think about. Her teachers wrote down her classmates birthday messages to Esme. Some of them understood it – “Happy, Happy Birthday! Love Kira” –  some of them, not so much – “Colour! love Georgia.”

I brought some pretty little cupcakes for everyone to share at snack time. Big mistake. I was a newbie and didn’t realize what an allergy minefield daycares and schools are these days. One of the little boys had a bowl of ice cream while the rest of the group had cupcakes. He really seemed fine with it but I felt terrible.

A friend recently mentioned this Quinoa Chocolate Cake recipe to me and I thought it sounded like a great – if a little strange – solution to the very common wheat allergy problem. It comes from a cookbook called Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood. All the parents in Esme’s class have been coming in to do projects with the group and Ben and I decided we’d make cake with the kids. It was a remarkably calm  experience  to cook with six three year olds. They all took turns adding and stirring ingredients and even though they couldn’t stop asking, “When will it be my turn?” they were very patient about waiting. I goofed and added a bit too much Quinoa to the recipe so the final result was a bit heavier than when I’d make it at home – but it makes a very moist, chocolate-y cake.

Quinoa Chocolate Cake


  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup butter melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Place the Quinoa and water on high heat and bring to boil then reduce to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Fluff with a fork and replace the lid for another 10 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Mix the eggs, milk and vanilla in a bowl.

Add the cooked quinoa and the butter and blend well.

Combine the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl.

Add the wet to the dry ingredients.

Grease 2 round cake pans with butter and then place rounds of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan.

Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

It will not look like a typical cake batter because of Quinoa’s texture. Esme’s class thought it smelled great but looked disgusting. Disgusting is a word that is really fun to yell when you’re three.


The cake was iced with a very simple butter icing (I always reduce the sugar by about half from a standard recipe) and consumed with abandon at afternoon snack time.

We baked the cake on a day Esme doesn’t typically got to school so she chose to come home with us rather than wait for the cake. But her friends made this lovely card to thank us. How sweet is that?

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  1. yasmin
    June 30, 20:46 Reply

    what a sweet story! i love that you have this blog to capture the pictures and the memories too. so much nicer than only having the card as a memento.

    hope esme had a great 3rd birthday!

  2. Janine
    July 03, 03:38 Reply

    Quinoa Chocolate Cake? I am officially intrigued.

  3. Janine
    July 03, 03:41 Reply

    Also, love that you got a buncha kiddies helping to make a birthday cake! But Esme didn't have a piece?

  4. Laura Keller
    July 15, 16:25 Reply

    Just catching up on your blog and am thrilled to find this recipe – my son has a dairy-free, gluten-free diet and it's the treats that he misses the most … will be sure to give this a try, and just substitute almond milk for the dairy!

  5. Terra
    October 12, 11:08 Reply

    I have been meaning to try this so just searched for the post. I can’t believe how little Esme is here! Wow – how time flies.

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