This vegan chocolate Christmas cake is good enough to convert even the fruit cake haters. It is a rich, moist and boozy vegan fruit cake with the added indulgence of chocolate, and is perfect for the festive season.
It is easy to make, moist, rich and delicious. It can be eaten right away or made in advance and matured.
Fruit cake is a bit of a divisive one; I know that a lot of people aren't keen on it, but I absolutely love it and Christmas for me wouldn't be the same without a boozy, fruity cake to nibble on throughout the holidays.
Even if you aren't a fan of classic Christmas fruit cake, this indulgent chocolate version might just be able to convert you.
The addition of cocoa powder and chocolate chips elevates the flavour of this cake to something truly special, I think this is going to be my go-to Christmas cake recipe from now on!
It is made using the boiled fruit cake method, which is where you do not soak the fruit in advance, instead it is heated in a pan with the wet ingredients then left to cool. The fruit soaks up the hot liquid and becomes nice and juicy without the need to let it soak for ages.
Mixed dried fruit: I used a shop bought mix of raisins, sultanas, currants and candied peel plus some glace cherries, but feel free to vary the fruit that you use as long as you stick to the same overall weight. Dried cranberries would be lovely, as would chopped dried apricots, figs or dates.
Milk: You can use any kind you like but it should ideally be unsweetened and soy milk is best as it has the highest protein content.
Brown sugar: Dark brown soft or muscovado sugar adds a lovely treacle flavour. You can use light brown instead, but do go for dark if you have it.
Treacle: I use black treacle but molasses will also work.
Butter: For the best results you need to use a vegan block butter, not the spreadable kind which has too high a water content for baking. I like Naturli Vegan Block or Flora Plant Butter.
Plain flour: Plain (all-purpose) flour is best here. I do not think that this cake will work gluten-free, it will likely just crumble to pieces.
Ground almonds: These give the cake a lovely texture and help to keep it moist. In the US use almond flour.
Baking powder and soda: Make sure that you use both, they are not interchangeable.
Vinegar: This reacts with the raising agents to help the cake rise. I use cider vinegar but white or red wine vinegar is fine too, as is lemon juice.
Cocoa powder: Use dutch processed cocoa powder rather than natural (that's just regular cocoa powder to those of you in the UK).
Alcohol: Rum, whisky, brandy, amaretto, Tia Maria, port or sherry all work. I use rum. You will need some to soak the fruit in and some to feed the cake.
Orange zest: This is optional but great for adding flavour.
Spices: I use mixed spice and cinnamon; you can omit, swap or increase the spices as you like. Use pumpkin spice instead of the mixed spice if you can't get hold of it.
Chocolate chips: This is a chocolate fruit cake after all. You can use roughly chopped dark chocolate instead.
How To Make Vegan Chocolate Christmas Cake:
(Full measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page)
Step 1: Place the mixed dried fruits, alcohol, butter, brown sugar, treacle, milk, vinegar, vanilla extract and orange zest in a large saucepan.
Heat gently, stirring often, until the butter has melted then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to warm room temperature, about 1 hour.
Step 2: Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, mixed spice and cinnamon and add the ground almonds. Stir to form a batter with no dry patches. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Step 3: Transfer the batter to a greased and lined deep 20 cm round cake tin and spread it level.
Step 4: Bake for 2.5 to 3 hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
USE SCALES. As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scales rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
To get clean slices, use a very sharp serrated knife and cut the cake with a sawing motion rather than pressing straight down.
Lining the tin with a double layer of baking parchment helps to stop the edges of the cake from burning before it is cooked in the middle.
The cake is ready when it is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter (make sure that you avoid any chocolate chips).
Don't use pre-soaked fruit for this recipe, it will throw off the moisture balance of the ingredients.
How To Store Vegan Chocolate Christmas Cake?
Once the cake has cooled completely, remove it from its tin and brush it all over - top, bottom and sides, with your choice of alcohol. Wrap it tightly first in baking parchment, then tin foil. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
Drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of alcohol every week or two, alternating top and bottom of the cake, until you are ready to ice it (if you choose to decorate it). But don't feed it for a week before icing it in order to give the surface a chance to dry out.
Can I Make It Alcohol Free?:
Yes, you can use an equal amount of orange juice instead of alcohol in the cake. Bear in mind that if you aren't feeding the cake with alcohol then it won't keep for as long so only make it a week or two before you want to serve it.
How To Decorate Christmas Cake:
Traditionally, Christmas cakes are covered in a layer of marzipan (brush the cake with sieved, warm apricot jam before covering so that the marzipan sticks.) then a layer of either royal icing or fondant.
Most shop-bought marzipan and fondant is vegan, though do check the packet of course. You can make vegan royal icing by swapping the egg white for aquafaba.
Once the vegan chocolate Christmas cake is iced, you can add decorations as you wish - I like to keep things simple and just pile some gingerbread star biscuits in various sizes on top.
Can I use This Recipe To Make A Plain Christmas Cake?
Yes, you can omit the chocolate to make a regular rich fruit cake. Simply swap the cocoa powder for an equal weight of plain flour and omit the chocolate chips or swap them for roughly chopped nuts.
Can I Make A Smaller Version?:
If you don't want a full sized cake, then a half batch of the recipe works well in a deep 15 cm/6 in round cake tin and takes around 2 hours to bake but start checking after 1 ½ hours.
More Vegan Fruit Cake Recipes:
- Vegan Christmas cake
- Gluten-free vegan Christmas cake
- Vegan Dundee cake
- Vegan mincemeat cake
- Vegan malt loaf
- Fruit cake loaf
- Vegan Earl Grey tea loaf
- Vegan stollen bars
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Vegan Chocolate Christmas Cake
- 700 g (25 oz) mixed dried fruit
- 100 ml (⅓ cup + 1Tbsp + 1tsp) rum, whisky, brandy or sherry (plus extra for feeding)
- 175 g (¾ cup) vegan block butter
- 175 g (1 cup) dark or light brown soft sugar
- 30 g (1 heaped Tablespoon) black treacle or molasses
- 160 ml (⅔ cup) unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soy)
- 2 teaspoons cider or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
- 50 g (½ cup) ground almonds (almond flour)
- 300 g (2 ⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 50 g (½ cup) cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin spice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 100 g (⅔ cup) chocolate chips
- Place the mixed dried fruits, alcohol, butter, brown sugar, treacle, milk, vinegar, vanilla extract and orange zest in a large saucepan. Heat gently, stirring often, until the butter has melted then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to warm room temperature, about 1 hour.
- While the mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/275°F/gas mark 1. Grease a deep 20 cm/8 inch round cake tin and line it with a double layer of baking parchment.
- Add the ground almonds to the cooled fruit mixture and sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and cinnamon. Stir with a spatula to form a batter with no dry patches.
- Add the chocolate chips and gently stir in.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and use a spatula to spread it level. Because it is so thick it doesn't spread much in the oven so it is important that you get it as even as you can.
- Bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours, until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre (avoiding any chocolate chips) comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter. (My cake took 2 ¾ hours to bake).
- Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes then brush with 1 Tablespoon of your preferred alcohol. Leave to cool in the tin completely (about 8 hours).
- Once the cake is completely cold, remove it from the tin and brush all over with a little alcohol.
- Wrap the cake up in baking parchment then tin foil (it MUST be completely cold first), and store in an airtight container, feeding every week or two with alcohol, for up to three months.
- See post above for tips, details and step-by-step photos.
- USE SCALES. As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scales rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!