Ten years ago, a blogger named Jennifer Novic shared a fun recipe for hot fudge sundae cake with us. Her blog is no longer active, but I knew her delicious creation must live on. So I tested and tweaked to create a full dairy-free dessert that is a delicious option for parties or afternoon treats.
How Does Dairy-Free Hot Fudge Sundae Cake Work?
This hot fudge sundae cake takes just 15 minutes of preparation, from pulling out the ingredients to popping it in the oven. The method of pouring hot chocolaty liquid over top causes the layers to separate. A chocolate cake floats to the top, and a generous layer of fudgy goodness nestles at the bottom, as you can see in these pictures.
More Vegan Chocolate Pudding Cake Notes & Tips
Dairy-Free Ice Cream: Yes, the dairy-free ice cream on top of this hot fudge sundae cake is a MUST. Trust me, it completes the flavor experience, and it adds a complimentary creamy layer. My favorite is the Vanilla So Delicious Cashewmilk Ice Cream or Ripple Vanilla Ice Cream (for nut-free). But feel free to use your favorite brand and flavor. Mint chip or salted caramel cluster would also be amazing!
Make it Saucy: The “fudge sauce” layer is a little thicker than a sauce. It’s got an almost pudding-like texture, but works with the cake and dairy-free ice cream topping for an amazing hot fudge sundae cake experience. For the drizzle of hot fudge on top, I whisk any residual fudgy stuff from the pan with a little water and/or coconut oil. The water just thins it, but the coconut oil initially thins (it melts in) and then thickens it again as it hits the cold ice cream. I like the clingy, thickening effect that a little coconut oil provides.
Flavor Tweaks: As always, changing the ingredients too much can lead to a recipe disaster. But you can add a little more cocoa if you want a darker chocolate cake, a little more salt if you want more flavor contrast, or reduce the sugar a touch (not too much – sugar is essential for both the cake and pudding texture) if you want it to be a less sweet.
Special Diet Notes: Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally nut-free, optionally peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
For a gluten-free dairy-free hot fudge sundae cake, swap your favorite gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose flour. This tends to be a fragile cake that you eat sundae-style, so it’s okay if it is a touch crumbly.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (see post above for gluten-free)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup cocoa powder, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1½ cups hot water
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso (if using), and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Make a well in the flour mixture and add the milk beverage, oil, and vanilla. Stir to combine. The batter will be a bit thick.
- Scrape all of the batter into a 9x9-inch ungreased baking pan, and spread to even it out.
- Add the brown sugar, remaining ¼ cup cocoa powder, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt to your mixing bowl. Add the hot water and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the chocolate liquid all over the batter in your pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into just the top cake layer comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Make it a Sundae: Scoop the cake into serving glasses or bowls. Top each serving with 1 to 2 scoops of dairy-free ice cream (about 2 pints or 1 quart for the full recipe). Whisk a little water or coconut oil into any remaining sauce in the pan (it is thick, with a pudding like texture), and drizzle it over the ice cream. Optionally top with chopped nuts, if nuts are okay for your dietary needs.