Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake and It’s Vegan Too

This spicy dark chocolate cake is redolent with sweet and fragrant Dutch speculaas spices. It’s glazed with a shiny dark chocolate ganache and the whole thing is egg and dairy free, making it inclusive and entirely suitable for vegans. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to make.

Far Flung Family

Our family, my mother’s side at least, used to be nicely contained within the boundaries of England and Scotland. As a child growing up, my holidays were usually spent visiting one or other of them and we were close.

These days, the family has become international and live variously in Australia, Spain, California and Colombia. Needless to say, I don’t get to see them very often anymore.

So I was delighted when a bunch of relies came down to visit us in Cornwall earlier this month. I was particularly pleased to see my vegan cousin from California who I haven’t met since his wedding five years ago. Of course I had to make him a cake.

Speculaas Spices

I’d recently been sent a special spice mix from the Speculaas Spice Company and I was keen to try it out. It’s based on the vanDotsch family’s secret recipe and only some of the spices are revealed in the ingredients. Speculaas is a Dutch spice mix dating from the 17th Century when Holland was sailing the Seven Seas in search of exotic spices. Today the spice mix has been mostly standardised and is best known for its use in speculaas biscuits. If you’ve had these in Belgium, you’ll know them as speculoos.

Speculaas Spice Mix

This mix consists of nine spices including Sri Lankan cinnamon, cloves and ginger. The overwhelming aroma emanating from the opened packet was of cloves and cinnamon – a heady mix indeed. But other less obvious scents were there too.

On trying the spice, we all had a go at guessing what the secret ingredients might be. My aunt was convinced it contained black pepper, CT was pretty sure nutmeg was in it and I thought I could taste allspice. It certainly has a hint of a kick to it and is full of flavour. The company tries to source its spices at as high a grade as possible and to ensure that they are pure with no additives of any kind. They are also mostly organic, fairtrade or both.

Chocolate Powder

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out some pure chocolate powders from the chocolate company Mortimer. These are not cocoa powder, but ground up chocolate. Well, what a very good idea I thought; no need to faff around melting chocolate and creating extra washing up for baking purposes now. This is because you can add the chocolate directly into the mix. Which is exactly what I did.

Drinking Chocolate Powders

You wouldn’t know from eating the cakes I’ve made that the traditional method had not been used. Finer than grated chocolate and similar to cocoa powder, it gets completely incorporated into the baking mix. I did try melting the white couverture powder in these burnt butter cupcakes and it melted almost instantaneously.

Real Chocolate Powder

In addition to the white couverture powder (40%), which smells deliciously vanillary, I also had two different 70% dark chocolate powders to try. All of the powders come in 220g packs and are suitable for drinking as hot chocolate as well as in baking recipes. Each packet has a recipe printed on the back; I want to make all of them, although the white chocolate coconut ice-cream sounds the most intriguing.

Mortimer Hot Chocolates

Two continents, two colours, two tastes.

Taste Testing

To see what differences we could spot between the two dark chocolates, CT and I tried both, in powder form and as a hot chocolate. The powder melted into the hot milk really quickly, leaving no bits behind, as can sometimes be the case. They were different in colour with the Ecuador being slightly darker and redder. Both were quite delicious. For convenience, I reckon these are excellent products. They retail at £3.80 and are now available at Sainsburys. South America and Ghana versions are also available to buy online.

Pure Dark Chocolate Powder (70%): Ecuador

Described as flavour 4 intense, this tastes less sweet than the West African, but surprisingly less bitter too. In hot chocolate form it was also less sweet as well as being more refreshing and robust. I’ve heard that Ecuador is the home of the best quality cacao and this chocolate seems to prove the point. The recipe suggestion was for sumptuous chocolate sauce. Well, I’m always going to be up for that.

Pure Dark Chocolate Powder (70%): West African

Described as flavour 2 mellow, we found this had a fruiter and sweeter smell and tasted slightly of cardamom. In hot chocolate form it also came across as fruity with notes of coconut and was slightly sweeter than the Ecuador. The recipe suggestion was for gorgeous chocolate brownies.

Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake

The method for preparing this vegan spicy dark chocolate cake is an easy one. No need to cream hard butter and sugar. Thanks to the wonderful chocolate powder, it’s pretty much a case of adding the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stirring. The shiny dark chocolate glaze is even easier to make.

Vegan Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake

My cousin was delighted with his welcome back vegan bake. Luckily, everyone else enjoyed it too. We all thought it was strong on flavour and not too sweet – the way things should be.

More Vegan Bakes You Might Like

Stay in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this speculaas chocolate cake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

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Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake. PIN IT.

 Vegan Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake

Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake – The Recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Vegan Chocolate Spice Cake

A well flavoured spicy chocolate cake with a dark chocolate glaze. Simple to make, it produces a nice textured crumb which isn't too sweet.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert
Cuisine: British, Dutch
Keyword: cake, chocolate, chocolate cake, spice cake, spices, vegan
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 315kcal


  • 200 g (7oz) flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white)
  • 1 rounded tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 heaped tsp speculaas spice (or mixed spice)
  • 60 g 70% Ecuador dark chocolate powder (or other dark chocolate, finely grated )
  • 130 g dark brown sugar
  • 1 large banana
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
  • 150 ml water
  • 20 g coconut oil
  • 25 g 70% dark chocolate powder (or finely grated chocolate)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup


  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir in the chocolate and make a well in the centre.
  • Mash the banana up with the sugar, then beat in the oil. Pour gradually into the dry ingredients, mixing from the centre outwards.
  • Add the water and vinegar and mix until just incorporated.
  • Scrape into a 21cm round cake mould or lined tin and bake at 180℃, 350℉, Gas 4 for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Melt the coconut and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup until smooth. Pour over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Scatter over some grated dark chocolate if desired.


This will give 8-10 slices, depending on how big you cut them.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.


Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.3g | Protein: 4.4g | Fat: 14.2g | Saturated Fat: 6.1g | Sodium: 87mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 24.4g | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 0.5mg


  1. Librarian Lavender

    28th June 2014 at 11:57 am

    I love speculaas! I’m Dutch, so I really like recipes like this. I can imagine you miss your family when they are all so far away. Then the time you can spend together is extra precious!

    • Choclette

      28th June 2014 at 6:14 pm

      Oh I didn’t know you were Dutch LL, that’s interesting. Do you have your own secret family recipe by any chance? It seems that family living all over the place is the modern way.

  2. Laura Denman

    28th June 2014 at 5:32 pm

    This sounds like a really interesting cake and one I would have been over the moon to receive if I was a visiting relative!

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Laura, it must have been good as it didn’t last very long 🙂

  3. Kate Glutenfreealchemist

    28th June 2014 at 8:58 pm

    The cake sounds delicious and the icing looks divine…… I love the shine! Love the use of coconut oil. The chocolate powder is a great idea and sounds incredibly versatile…. Must have a look next time I’m in Waitrose.

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 10:13 am

      Thanks Kate. I think it’s the coconut oil that gives it such a nice shine – makes it taste good too. The chocolate powder really makes life a lot easier. I’ve just used some in my baking today.

    • chocolatefriends

      30th June 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Dear Kate, our Chocolate powders are available in Sainsbury’s and unfortunately no longer in Waitrose. Sorry my fault for not updating our website.

    • Kate Glutenfreealchemist

      30th June 2014 at 7:11 pm

      Many thanks for letting me know. That’s really helpful. I will keep my eye out in Sainsbury’s instead!

  4. Alida

    28th June 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I just made some biscuits with speculaas too! I really love this spice. So aromatic and addictive; it must be wonderful in your super chocolatey cake!

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Alida. Speculaas biscuits are delicious. I’ve never made my own, but it’s on my list.

  5. Katie

    29th June 2014 at 7:39 am

    That spice mix sounds amazing. Love the idea of pairing it with the chocolates. Your cake has such a lovely shine to it too

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 10:15 am

      Thanks Katie – I think most spices pair well with chocolate, so I couldn’t really go wrong 🙂

  6. Barefoot Mahala

    29th June 2014 at 8:20 am

    I haven’t heard of that mix before, but it sounds delicious, especially in a chocolate cake!

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 10:16 am

      Thank you. If you ever go to Holland, you won’t be able to avoid it, but the biscuits are sold here in the UK too.

  7. Suelle

    29th June 2014 at 8:47 am

    This sounds a great use for this delicious spice mix – I can imagine the smell as it was cooking!

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 10:17 am

      Thanks Suelle, it did indeed scent the house delightfully .

  8. Karen Reekie

    29th June 2014 at 10:12 am

    This sounds amazing. Do you think this would work with gluten free flour as well?

  9. Angie Schneider

    29th June 2014 at 1:12 pm

    The chocolate cake looks heavenly, Choclette.
    I love speculaas spice mix and tend to buy a lot of them during X’mas season.

    • Choclette

      29th June 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks Angie. You’re right, it does tend to be something I normally associate with Christmas.

  10. Kate@whatkatebaked

    29th June 2014 at 2:59 pm

    A very close friend of mine is vegan- I usually rely on a carrot or courgette vegan cake recipe – I’m sure a chocolate version will go down an absolute storm. And I’ve really enjoyed reading about everyone’s different recipes with the marvellous speculoos

    • Choclette

      30th June 2014 at 8:49 am

      It’s interesting how things have moved on just in the last couple of years with vegan cakes. Recipes were quite hard to find when I made my first specific vegan cake a few years ago, now there are so many good ideas.

  11. The Caked Crusader

    29th June 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I love how we’ve all done something different with our spice sample – your cake looks lovely

    • Choclette

      30th June 2014 at 8:50 am

      Thanks CC, it’s fun to see how it’s being used.

  12. Jacqueline Meldrum

    29th June 2014 at 4:59 pm

    That cake looks wicked Choclette, I must make it for Graham, he’ll love it! Loving the sound of those chocolate powders too. Great idea.

    • Choclette

      30th June 2014 at 8:52 am

      Thanks Jac. The chocolate powders are fantastic and I’m sure Graham deserves a treat 😉

  13. Charlene F

    29th June 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I love the look of your cake, it’s delicious x

    • Choclette

      30th June 2014 at 8:52 am

      Thanks Charlene, it did taste rather good.

  14. Nayna Kanabar

    29th June 2014 at 5:59 pm

    This sounds delicious, I will book mark the recipe and add spelt flour to my shopping list.

    • Choclette

      30th June 2014 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Nayna. Spelt flour isn’t strictly necessary, but it is more benign on our digestive system than regular wheat flours.

  15. GG

    30th June 2014 at 1:04 pm

    The Glam Teens are obsessed with Speculaas, they love it. I bet the cake is wonderful, especially made with the Mortimer chocolate which I have discovered is amazing. GG

    • Choclette

      1st July 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Are they baking you rather too many speculaas treats GG? Things could be worse 😉

  16. Aunt Bee

    30th June 2014 at 3:50 pm

    That is one seriously decadent looking cake!!!!!

    • Choclette

      1st July 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks Aunt Bee, but it’s not too naughty really!

  17. London Unattached

    30th June 2014 at 7:03 pm

    that does look delicious. Mind you, anything with chocolate!!!

    • Choclette

      1st July 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks Fiona, chocolate has a habit of being just too good.

  18. glennamy

    30th June 2014 at 7:40 pm

    looks dreamy and probably heavenly to taste… recipe saved. TY

    • Choclette

      1st July 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you. We all really liked it, but if you like your cakes sweet there are many others on the blog that might suit you better.

  19. melissa z

    30th June 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I am Vegan and this cake looks so delicious! really tempted to make it!

    • Choclette

      1st July 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks Melissa. Let me know how it turns out if you do give it a go.


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