Photo by: NPA

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Photo by: NPA

Cooking for Isaiah is a love story of Silvana Nardone’s journey to develop great-tasting meals for her son, Isaiah, after he was diagnosed with food intolerances to gluten and dairy.

If you overwhip the chocolate frosting, just add water, a drizzle at a time, to make it glossy and smooth again.

PREP TIME 30 minutes (plus cooling)
COOK TIME 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups water

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch (22.5-cm) round cake pans with cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the paper. To make the cake, in a small bowl, whisk together the espresso powder and boiling water; let cool slightly. Whisk in the cold water, vanilla, oil and eggs.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined; divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.

3. To make the frosting, in a large microwavable bowl, melt together the chocolate chips and water on high power, about 2 minutes; stir until smooth, and let cool to room temperature. With a handheld electric mixer, beat the chocolate mixture on medium-high speed until light and whipped, about 12 minutes.

4. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to release the layers. Invert one cake layer onto a cake plate, flat side facing up. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread about 2 cups of the whipped chocolate frosting evenly on top. Invert the remaining cake layer, rounded side up, onto the frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before slicing.

Silvana Nardone, author of Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals is the founding editor in chief of Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine, where she is also the ‘No-Recipe Zone’ and ‘Sweet Spot’ columnist. A writer, editor, cooking instructor and food consultant, Silvana is the coauthor of Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian. Previously, Silvana was an editor at Food & Wine magazine before opening her Italian bakery, Fanciulla. She has appeared on many national television shows. She has also been featured in the New York Times and in New York magazine. Silvana lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Isaiah, 13, and Chiara, 4.

Editor’s note: Leave your comments below and you could be a lucky winner of Silvana’s book Cooking for Isaiah!

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My mother was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and we are learning to cook gluten free. It is more of a challenge for her than it is for me. Thank you for sharing what sounds like a great recipe and great information as well. Not only will I try this recipe, but I will be checking out the Rachel Ray magazine as well.

I really look forward to seeing the cookbook. My family has really missed certain foods since we changed over to a gluten-free diet.

Looks great... thank you!

This looks like a great only concern would be the high sugar content?? Just be watchful.

I love baking, and I can't wait to try out this recipe. We're going to a Harvest Party this weekend and our good friend has celiacs disease; this will be the perfect dessert to share so everyone can partake. :)

I was going to start searching for a homemade chocolate cake recipe this morning for my daughter whose birthday is in 2 weeks! Thanks for saving me time by sending it straight to my inbox!~ :)

Thank you for this recipe. My daughter is gluten-intolerant and occasionally dairy/egg intolerant (we're allowed them every 4-5 days). I have become a baker for her - and for the rest of the family so it's fair to her. Flourless chocolate cake is also a great dessert for those gluten-free. And for those who want a list of substitutions, the magazine "Living Without" had a GREAT sheet. Flax meal and boiling water or applesauce and baking powder to replace eggs, etc...

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Super excited. We can all have one cake for my son's birthday party. We usually have multiple cakes for the different dietary needs for all the people attending.

As someone who has a casein allergy and also a severe intolerance to soy and gluten, I'm going to give your cake a try! Sounds very decadent. It's been hard to find a good tasting chocolate cake; I hope this one passes muster in our house.

I like that the recipe looks simple and uses mostly ingredients I have on hand. My daughter is allergic to milk and wheat. Thankfully she can eat chocolate because this looks delicious!

This looks and sounds amazing - thank you! Now Madame Chocolate will be able to please so many more children with this delicious recipe!!!

It sounds like Sylvana's cookbook would be a great item to give a friend of mine who has celiac disease. And thanks for this recipe--I'll pass it along (and maybe try it for myself!).

I also have a son named Isaiah who cannot have gluten or dairy. It can be quite challenging to say the least. My sister just heard about this book and recommended it to me, and now this post just showed up in my email inbox... must be a sign that I need to get this cookbook. Thank you for the recipe and enjoy your little Isaiah!

Thanks! looks delicious. I will share the recipe with my gluten - intolerant friends!

Thanks also to Shoshana for the info on Jewish foods!

Thanks for the recipe! I have a five year old son who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and I'm trying to find recipes that he will eat and like. Does anyone have any dinner ideas for kids with celiac? I'm still struggling with that one. We have a few that we keep rotating but I would love to broaden his menu selection.

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