Go Back

Chocolate & Toasted Coconut Olive Oil Cake [with vegan option]

Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegetarian
Author Shelly Westerhausen


  • 2 cups milk (use nut milk to make vegan) OR 1 cup milk / 1 cup hibiscus tea
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • beans from 1 vanilla pod OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose)
  • 1 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the buttercream:

  • 1 cup butter , softened [use vegan butter if making vegan]
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two 8 inch round pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper and dust with enough cocoa powder to cover the bottom (but remove any excess).
  2. Add the vinegar and milk to your stand mixer bowl (or mixing can be done by hand if you don't have a mixer) and let sit for 5 minutes. Next, add in the applesauce, hibiscus tea (if using), olive oil, and vanilla extract (or beans) and mix until just combined.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Turn your mixer to medium-low and slowly pour the dry ingredients in until everything is incorporated. Turn the mixer speed up to high and let run until your batter is evenly smooth and no lumps remain.
  4. Divide the dough between the two prepared pans and let bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. While the oven is still heated, place coconut on a lined baking sheet in a single layer and stick in the already heated oven. Bake for about 10 minutes (stirring every 3-5 minutes to avoid burning) or until most of the flakes have browned (please note that the time will vary depending on how large your flakes are and you should check them frequently since burning coconut flakes is super easy to do).
  6. While everything is cooling, beat together the frosting ingredients.
  7. To assemble, use 1/3 of the frosting for a center layer and the rest to frost the outside of the cake all over. Immediately sprinkle the toasted coconut all over (it'll stick to the frosting perfectly if the frosting hasn't set yet) and you should be able to press the coconut into the sides so that it completely covers the cake.
  8. Serve with ice cream or enjoy on its own!