Secret Ingredient Chocolate Sheet Cake

source: Alta Mantsch

Chocolate. Sheet. Cake. Now those, my friends, are three words that invoke comfort. And this cake definitely fits the bill – a fudgy, moist cake, topped with a decadent, rich, sweet chocolate frosting. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a crowd-pleaser. That’s my favorite kind of cake.

But what if I told you that this cake is actually a tad healthier than your typical chocolate sheet cake? That aside from the fact that there is no gluten, dairy, or refined sugar, that there is also a secret ingredient thrown into the cake batter – something that provides a boost of vitamins K and C, fiber, and folate, and even helps keep the cake nice and moist?

What if I told you that secret ingredient is…


Now don’t go all running out the door screaming – I promise you, you can’t taste or feel the texture of the cabbage in this cake. And you’d never see it, especially since the chocolate covers up any chance of detection. You can serve this cake proudly to family and friends, and smile on the inside, knowing that you’ve helped increase their veggie intake in chocolate form. They’ll never know (unless your ear-to-ear grin gives it away, and you have to confess), and will happily enjoy their decadent treat. I’ll leave the decision of whether to divulge your secret up to you.

What are your favorite ways to use ‘secret ingredients’ in your baking?

Cabbage Chocolate Sheet Cake

Serves 12 – 16, depending on how large you like your cake slices

(gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free)


For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar or raw cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage, packed (I used my food processor’s shredding attachment to shred the cabbage easily)
  • 3/4 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened (not melted – you just don’t want the oil to be cold and hard.)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered coconut palm sugar (or raw cane sugar)
  • 3-4 tablespoons tapioca starch


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- X 13-inch glass baking dish with coconut oil and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the tapioca starch, brown rice flour, cocoa powder, sorghum flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, guar gum, and kosher salt.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the coconut palm sugar, cabbage, coconut milk, coconut oil, melted chocolate, and vanilla. Process until well-blended. You don’t need the mixture to be completely smooth, but you don’t want any large pieces of cabbage either.
  5. Scrape the mixture from the food processor into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until well-blended. Then scrape the cake batter into your prepared baking dish and spread out evenly.
  6. Bake on the center rack of your oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow cake to cool for about 20 minutes.
  7. While waiting for the cake to cool, make the frosting. In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the coconut oil, cocoa powder, coconut milk, vanilla, and the powdered coconut palm sugar until well-blended. Add the tapioca starch and continue to beat until fluffy.
  8. While the cake is still slightly warm (not hot), spread frosting over the cake evenly (while the cake is still in the dish). It may melt and look shiny – don’t fret. This is supposed to happen, and this means the frosting is slightly melting into that top part of the cake, ensuring extra fudgy deliciousness. It ought to spread pretty easily, but make sure it’s spread relatively evenly.
  9. Refrigerate the cake to firm up the frosting, at least an hour or two. Prior to serving, remove from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes just to take a bit of chill off. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Looking for some other “secret ingredient” desserts? Check out these treats!

profile-photo-BW1Alta is the founder of the gluten-free, dairy-free blog, Tasty Eats At Home. Even without gluten and dairy, Alta can show you that meals can be simple and healthy, and treats such as cake, bread, and cookies can be mouth-watering! Her goal is to share with you delicious, gluten-free, dairy-free food that can bring your heart joy and nourish your body, one recipe at a time.

Read all of Alta’s posts here.

11 Responses to Secret Ingredient Chocolate Sheet Cake

  • Ricki Heller says:

    Alta, this is WILD!! But as I was reading, I suddenly remembered a craze when I was a kid, when my mom made sauerkraut chocolate cake!! So I guess this is in the same family. . . definitely worth a try. :)


    Alta Mantsch Reply:

    @Ricki Heller, Ricki – I figure, if people can put carrots and zucchini in cake, why not cabbage? ;-) And sauerkraut in cake sounds vaguely familiar – I wonder if I’ve come across that before!


  • Melissa says:

    My mom and Ricki’s mom must have been reading the same recipe books. My mom did the sauerkraut thing too! But I much prefer your use of raw cabbage, Alta. VERY creative on your part. I love the idea of adding some power packed plants to baked goods. I guess it somewhat justifies eating cake!
    Good one, Alta!


    Alta Mantsch Reply:

    @Melissa, Oh, I can justify eating cake. The endorphins that come from eating it alone have to be positive, right? :) I do love making “healthier” versions of traditional treats though. Thanks!


  • Ooooh, this cake is the perfect way for me to use up that leftover cole slaw mix! LOVE it, Alta!! :-) Just shared on FB. I know my gfe readers will love it, too. ;-)



  • Leanne S says:

    Is there a substitution that would work for the coconut oil and coconut milk? Could I use additional almond milk or cow milk for the coconut milk? Could I use earth balance or olive oil for the coconut oil? I would love to try this, it sounds delicious! My local Costco sells these GF chocolate chip muffins and the first ingredient is zucchini! (It also has carrots) This sounds very similar, just in cake form!


  • Michelle says:

    WOW, whodathunk CABBAGE?! Cool! ‘Cept…if they start ‘tootin’ they might wonder why? lol.


  • Amber says:

    How wonderfully creative! So refreshing. Great recipe, Alta. I’ve pinned this one to try. I’m wild about cabbage and never thought of using it in a cake. When I read the post title I thought the secret ingredient was going to be sweet potatoes or avocado (things I’ve seen before) but this is just so cool! Well done.

    Be Well,


  • I was totally guessing avocado. LOVE avocado and chocolate. But never would have imagined cabbage! Brilliant!!



  • Pam says:

    I have a family picnic coming up in July – several of us eat gluten free. I think that I will make this cake and have everyone that eats a piece be that much more healthy and they won’t even know it.

    Can’t wait to bake this cake!!



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