Good-for-Ya Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

Gingerbread craving? Satisfy it with this good-for-ya (and gluten-free and vegan!) Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake. It’s moist, sweet, gingery and studded with dark chocolate, but secretly healthy and nutrient dense, thanks to the sweet potatoes, buckwheat flour, flaxseed, olive oil and blackstrap molasses.

Vegan Gluten-Free Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

I have finally—albeit reluctantly—made peace with December-dom. I could have sworn that labour day was, um, last week. And I refuse to put my flip flops away for the season, despite Kiwi’s frustrated pleas. But there are flashing lights on my house and a gargantuan Christmas tree in my living room. So ya, December—it’s officially on.

I usually do a big festive cookie bake-o-rama type thing around this time of year: sugar cookies, shortbread, pinwheels, toffee bars and the other usual suspects. But then I inevitably “forget” to distribute the baked goods to the neighbours and friends for whom they were intended, and Kiwi, Bean and I end up eating almost all of them by ourselves. Which is darn un-festive, and makes for a very busy January of kale smoothies and bootcamp resolutions.

Vegan Gluten-Free Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

So this year I’ve decided to do things a bit differently, foregoing the white flour and refined sugar-laden goodies in favour of some healthier more nutrient-dense holiday treats. Now, if you told me five years ago—heck even LAST year—that I would be talking about nutrient density and Christmas baking in the same blog post, I would never have believed it. I have definitely always been of the “if you are going to eat a sweet treat (or two, or five) you might as well eat the dirtiest, sugariest, butteriest thing you can get your hands on” school of thought. But the combination of (1) reaching lower-middle-age, and (2) turning my metabolism over to two small people means that holiday binge-eating doesn’t have the same harmless appeal that it used to. And besides, if you make them right, the healthier treats can be just as impressive, satisfying and delicious as their less healthy counterparts. Why splurge if you don’t have to?

Take this gingerbread cake for example. It’s remarkably “clean”: made with nutritious buckwheat flour, sweet potatoes and extra virgin olive oil and sweetened with a smidge of blackstrap molasses and maple syrup. But it’s also moist, gingery, chocolatey and delicious. It satisfies the gingerbread craving (and who doesn’t have a gingerbread craving at this time of year?) but without sending you into the usual gingerbread-induced sugar coma. And if you’re got some of those guests around for the holiday, it also happens to be vegan and gluten-free. Vegan, gluten-free, nutritious, delicious and chocolate-studded gingerbread cake? Uh huh. A Christmas miracle, if ever there was one.

Vegan Gluten-Free Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

I LOVE this gingerbread cake all on its own; it makes a great little snack next to shot of espresso, a cup of tea or (gasp) an eggnog latte. But it does double duty as a fancy dessert too: just top each piece with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream or coconut cream and dust them with some shaved dark chocolate.

**Stay tuned for some more holiday content coming your way on Kiwi & Bean: a round-up of healthy holiday sweet treat recipes, and what every way-too-busy-cook needs this time of year: a formula for the ultimate make-ahead holiday dinner!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Good-For-Ya Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe is adapted from The Detoxinista's Gingerbread Bars.
Serves: 12 squares
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed or chia seed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup mashed roasted sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 4 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line an 8 inch square baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, arranged so that one is criss-crossed over the other. (You want to create a bit of a sling, with some slack at each end to pull the cake out of the pan when it is baked.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine the water and flax/chia seeds. Set that aside, and combine the buckwheat flour, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt in a separate medium bowl.
  3. Stir the sweet potato, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, vanilla and olive oil into the flax mixture (which will be a bit gummy at this point), then add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips (if using). Then spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and pop it into the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is just firm, and a butter knife inserted into the cake comes out (mostly) clean. You don't want to overbake it or the cake will become dry.
  5. When the cake is cool to the touch, lift it out of the pan (using the parchment sling) and onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.
The best way to prepare the sweet potato for this recipe is to roast a whole potato in the oven. This will caramelize the sugars and leave you with a super sweet super delicious cup of potato flesh. To prepare the sweet potato: scrub one medium-large sweet potato and pierce it with a fork in a few places. Put it on a baking sheet and pop it into a 375 degree oven for about an hour or until it is very very soft. Let it cool completely, then remove the skin and mash the flesh.


17 Responses to Good-for-Ya Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

  1. online May 22, 2017 at 10:02 am #

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  2. Eva November 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Sarah – can you use regular flour instead of buckwheat?

    • Sarah November 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

      To be honest, I’m not sure! 🙂 If you try it let me know!

  3. A Canadian Foodie December 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Congratulations on Getting FIRST in the Canadian Web Blog Awards! Standing ovation for you. I was over the moon last year when I came in second and got the life time achievement award. Who says awards don’t feed our soul?
    Well deserved!
    Happy Holidays!

  4. Dr. Jennifer Weinberg, MD, MPH, MBE December 16, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Yum! I love this flavor combination and how you incorporated healthy ingredients like sweet potato. Thanks!

  5. Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts December 16, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    This cake looks phenomenal! And I love the inclusion of sweet potato! 🙂


  6. Kristi December 16, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Made this tonight. Totally delicious!

  7. EA-The Spicy RD December 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Love all the ingredients in this drool worthy gingerbread cake! I’ve made cookies w/ sweet potatoes (and teff) before, which is a delicious combination too 🙂 Enjoy the holidays with your family!

  8. Teresa December 14, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    My partner is one of “those” people – he has celiac disease and he’s trying to go vegan. This sounds perfect for him!

  9. Jo-Anna December 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    You had me at good-for-you-gingerbread! These look delicious Sarah!

  10. jess meddows December 13, 2014 at 1:35 am #

    Sarah, these are just amazing! And vegan AND with buckwheat flour. You’re too talented, you know that? 🙂

  11. Leah M @ love me, feed me December 12, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    Gorgeous!! And they look delicious! I’m so in love with gingerbread flavoured things, but have never been a fan of gingerbread itself so strange haha. But these seriously look incredible

  12. Julia @ Swirls and Spice December 12, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    I smiled when you wrote about “turning your metabolism over to two small people.” I’m in the same boat. 🙂 I like that you used buckwheat in this cake too!

  13. Dana December 12, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    This looks amazing! I might just have to get some buckwheat flour.

  14. Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness December 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    I’m pretty sure you’re the master of hiding healthy ingredients in indulgent treats! These look good 😀

  15. Laureen Fox December 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Sarah, that cake looks good. Chocolate and ginger go so well together and I love anything with buckwheat in it. Adding your recipe to my must-make-list.

  16. Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen December 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Hey recipe twin. 😉 These look fantastic! Love that you used buckwheat flour in them. My jar of buckwheat flour has been sitting untouched in my pantry for far too long – this is the perfect excuse to use it again!

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