Get the exclusive (almost) Weekly Digest.

    GFCF Chocolate Garden Cake Success!

    May 26, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    The birthday party on Saturday was a success on many fronts, not the least of which was the dessert front. We let E. choose whether he wanted cake first or gifts first {when it was time to get the event moving a little}.

    He chose cake.

    My mom was so impressed. “Wow. Delayed gratification,” she said, referring to our son putting off his presents.

    I really debated about letting her romanticize my kids or not. But I decided to be honest and tell her that my kids really do like food better than presents. Desserts around here are few and far between, and cakes are something I reserve for truly special occasions like holidays and birthdays. So when E. chose cake, he was choosing immediate gratification.

    He he.

    And the cake was so good that I’m not sure most folks would know that it was GFCF! For years, I have used the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake recipe whenever I needed a chocolate cake. When E. told me he wanted a garden cake, I was happy to oblige, especially since it meant I wouldn’t have to figure out natural food coloring, something I have been putting off for months now. Gardens are made from dirt, and chocolate is the color of dirt. Perfect!

    Here is how I revamped the recipe {and yes, I used a mix for which I drove across town and it was worth every penny}:

    Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” GFCF Chocolate Cake
    2 cups sugar
    1.75 cups + 1.5 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit & Baking Mix
    3/4 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
    1.5 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp sea salt
    2 eggs
    1 cup plain rice milk
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 teaspoons GF vanilla extract
    1 cup boiling water

    1. Heat oven to 350°F.

    2. Stir together sugar, biscuit mix, cocoa, baking soda and sea salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water {batter will be thin}. Pour batter into prepared pans.

    3. Bake 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting {GFCF version below}.

    Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” GFCF Chocolate Frosting
    1/2 cup Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening
    2/3 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
    3 cups powdered sugar
    1/3 cup plain rice milk
    1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract

    In a mixer, cream together sugar and shortening. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk {I think I used closer to 1/2 cup by the end}, if needed. Beat in vanilla.

    As far as decorating the cake goes, I got my inspiration for the veggies from an article in Woman’s Day magazine. Here is a closeup:

    All of the directions are available online for folks wanting to recreate this cake. These veggies are not GFCF. I just picked them off of my kids’ pieces. My son enjoyed the look. Also, I didn’t go all out like the directions called for. I only bought a few of the types of candy that were called for, and I was able to make do just fine. Can I just say that I love that our grocery store has a bulk candy aisle? I save a bundle on candy when I can buy exactly 20 green M&Ms and no more!

    Also, the recipe calls for crumbled chocolate cookies to give it a real “dirt” look. Most prepared chocolate cookies, however, are not GFCF or soy free. So…I just sprinkled the cake with brown sugar and then sifted some cocoa powder on top of that. It made it look dirty without the gluten difficulties.

    Great cake. Great party. Great day.

    The only thing I would change is my method for writing. Someday, I’ll break down and buy a real decorating set instead of trying to pump cursive out of a flimsy zip-lock baggie.

    Get the (almost) weekly digest!

    Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.

    Powered by ConvertKit


  • Reply Rahime May 27, 2008 at 5:25 am


  • Reply Brandy May 27, 2008 at 2:36 am


    I should have known you’d have one (or two, in this case)! Of course, my problem is remembering to borrow these sorts of thing until, oh, 11pm the night before the party. 🙂

    I’m not sure I’d call myself talented. What makes these cakes cute involved me following directions invented by talented people and published somewhere. Maybe I’ll just call myself obedient. 🙂

    Welcome back, by the way. I hope your weekend away was refreshing.

  • Reply Kimbrah May 27, 2008 at 1:28 am


    Don’t you know to ask me for these things yet? I have TWO professional cake decorating sets, they both have different strengths and weaknesses, so I like having both, but you are welcome to borrow either or both of them anytime.

    I have an over abundance of dandy kitchen gadgets, so just ask. 🙂

    Both of the cakes you posted (the butterfly one from earlier included) are just fabulous! You are so talented!

  • Leave a Reply