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Moist, Fluffy, Gluten Free Slice of Chocolate Cake with browned butter frosting

Gluten Free Decadent Chocolate Cake with Salted Browned Butter Frosting

Slice of rich gluten free chocolate cake with a salted browned butter frosting.

Get ready for decadence!  This Gluten Free Decadent Chocolate Cake with Salted Browned Butter Frosting is rich, delicious, and easy to make. 

Yes, this recipe is gluten free, but this gluten free chocolate cake just may be one of the best cakes that I’ve eaten.  After her first bite, my wife suggested, “stop everything, just bake and sell this cake!” Not all Gluten Free items are crowd pleasers, but I fed it to a number of unsuspecting test subjects and waited until the end to let them know it’s made with rice flour.  Time and again, mouths just hang open until asking for another slice.

One of the biggest factors in the light fluffiness of the cake comes from the sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour/sticky rice).  I also touch upon this in my Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffin recipe. If you’re never used this ingredient before, sweet rice flour gains a bit of a sticky or binding characteristic with liquids. This binding action allows air pockets to be created while in the oven.  I’ve also used sweet rice flour for making bread because the binding effect mimics a wheat flour dough. The blog From the Larder, gives a more in depth explanation here.

As I said above, this cake is quite easy to make but take a quick read through the instructions before you start. Gluten Free cooking sometimes has unique or additional steps and reading through ahead of time will save you time!

Tips and Tricks

  • If you’re worried about the pan scorching the bottom of the cake, place a baking sheet on a lower rack with a quarter inch of water. Be careful when opening the oven door, as there will be a plume of steam exiting.
  • When mixing the powdered ingredients, start off slow or with a whisk! (I may have learned the hard way being a bit over zealous with switching on my hand-mixer!). Another pro-tip is to put the bowl into your sink – most overflow will land in the sink and make for easy cleanup.
  • Use parchment paper on a cutting board while flipping and positioning your cake layers. The parchment allows for the cake to slide nicely without sticking to any surface.
  • Find Sweet Rice Flour in most Gluten Free baking sections of grocery stores. I like this brand here:

Gluten Free Decadent Chocolate Cake with Salted Browned Butter Frosting

Recipe by Stevens Haen
4.5 from 4 votes
Course: Dessert


Prep time


Cooking time


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  • Dry:
  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar

  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar

  • 2/3 Cup Brown Rice Flour

  • 3/4 Cup Sweet Rice Flour

  • 3/4 Cup Dutch Cocoa Powder

  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda

  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  • Liquid:
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk (I use organic lactose free whole milk)

  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (you can also use white vinegar or lemon juice)

  • 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 3 Tbsp Fresh Espresso (I’ve also used instant espresso powder, about 2 tsp)

  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 3 Large Eggs

  • 1 Cup Boiling Water

  • Frosting:
  • 1 Cup Butter (I use salted)

  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  • 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

  • 1/2 Cup Dutch Cocoa Powder

  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk

  • 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream

  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Toasted Coconut (optional)


  • Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. (If trying to be efficient, read the frosting instructions and brown butter while the cake is baking.)
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together all dry ingredients so they’re uniform and smooth throughout.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together all wet ingredients (EXCEPT THE BOILING WATER).
  • Combine the two, mix well with either a sturdy whisk or hand-mixer until the batter is smooth.
  • Set aside the cake batter and thoroughly grease two 9in round cake pans (Use either butter/lard/Crisco with such a liquidy batter).
  • Next, carefully pour the boiling water into the cake batter while slowly mixing. Your batter will seem very thin and you may ask yourself if this is right. Don’t worry, you’re doing great! The boiling water allows the cocoa powder and espresso (primarily if you use grounds) to blossom. Once mixed, pour the batter evenly between your two greased pans, they should be about 1/2-2/3 full.
  • Place the two pans in the oven on a middle rack.
  • Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, the edges will solidify first and slowly move towards the center of the pan. You’ll know it’s finished when a toothpick or knife comes out clean and the cake is spongy.
  • Once out of the oven, set it aside until it has cooled and can be comfortably handled without oven mitts. This time allows the cake to set up and the edges should pull away from the pan.
  • Frosting:
  • Place the butter in a small sauce pan and melt on medium heat.
  • Once melted add in the salt and stir occasionally while increasing the temperature to med/high. If butter is not browning uniformly, keep stirring. As the butter begins to boil it will start to froth, continue stirring until it turns from a yellow hue to more of a very light brown/tan.
  • Take off the pan off the heat and pour the butter into a freezer/heat safe bowl (I use a silicone measuring cup).
  • Place the browned butter in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until the butter has set up and mostly solidified.
  • Scoop the butter into a medium size mixing bowl and beat with a hand-mixer or whisk until it is whipped and fluffy.
  • In the same bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then pour on top of the powdered ingredients the vanilla and half of the milk/ heavy cream. Start mixing slowly to avoid powder flying everywhere, then increase speed until all ingredients are incorporated. Slowly pour in the rest of the milk and heavy cream until frosting becomes light and fluffy. About 2-3 minutes.
  • Layering and Finishing:
  • Take your first cooled cake pan and flip the cake onto your cake plate. It may just slide out or it may need a tap or two.
  • Use a silicone spatula to frost the top of the first cake to your desired amount.
  • Sprinkle on a quarter of the toasted coconut on top (optional).
  • Now its time for the second cake pan! If your first cake slid out easily and you’re feeling lucky, flip the second layer right on top, for the rest of us, put some parchment on a plate or cookie sheet, flip the second layer on top of the parchment paper and should easily be able to slide it off on to the first layer.
  • Once the two layers of cake are aligned with frosting in the middle, frost the top and sides and sprinkle with more toasted coconut. And enjoy!

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