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chocolate coconut crumb cake recipe with vegan option

I’ve noticed that I’ve had a few visitors from Pinterest and Instagram lately, so it doesn’t feel quite as much like a ghost town here anymore! If you’ve come here from social media, thank you so much for following and/or clicking on my links. Today’s recipe is this chocolate coconut crumb cake, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made all winter. I love coconut, but I’ve never been a big fan of the sunscreen scent taste of coconut extract, so I chose to rely on virgin coconut oil in this recipe – I love how it gives an immanent coconutty flavor to baked goods that is not overwhelming or artificial tasting.

chocolate coconut crumb cake recipe with vegan option

Notes on Ingredients

Solid Virgin Coconut Oil – I used coconut oil that is solid at room temperature, not liquid fractionated coconut oil. I did not test the liquid kind, so I’m not sure how well it would work in this recipe; also, the liquid oil is usually more refined, and has much less coconut flavor. I used virgin coconut oil also because it is less refined and retains more flavor.

Coconut Milk – I used canned, non-emulsified coconut milk. When it hasn’t been emulsified, the coconut milk will be separated in the can, so you’ll need to mix it up before adding it to the batter. I find it easiest to open from the bottom of the can, so you don’t have that thick layer of coconut cream to break through before stirring it up.

Shredded Coconut – I used sweetened, shredded coconut, but other types of dried coconut would work here too.

chocolate coconut crumb cake recipe with vegan option

Notes on Technique

  • Every time I’ve cooked with coconut oil that is solid at room temperature, I’ve found it difficult to get all the lumps out when using a spoon or a mixer. I’ve found that the best way to ensure all of the lumps come out is just to use your hands.
  •  If the coconut milk is very lumpy, you can pour it into a pyrex measuring cup or a bowl and microwave it on high for about 30 seconds, then stir until all the lumps are gone. Let it cool a little before adding it to the cake batter.
  • The crumb layer should almost together, but not quite – it should still be very crumbly. This way, it will be much easier to sprinkle it over the top of the cake.
  • I tested this recipe in an oven that has the heat element in the top. In an oven with the heat element on the bottom, the bottom cake layer may cook faster, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it.
  • Make sure the cake is nearly all the way baked through before adding the chocolate and crumb layers. The thickness of the chocolate layer will prevent much more steam from rising out of the cake, so if it’s underdone beforehand, it will stay soggy.
  • Make sure to have the chocolate and crumb topping ready before the cake is done, so that you can add it immediately without allowing the cake any time to cool down.
chocolate coconut crumb cake recipe with vegan option

Vegan Option

This cake recipe is very easy to veganize. Replace the egg with 1 tbsp flax meal (ground flax seeds) and 3 tbsp water, and make sure to use nondairy chocolate. The cake will need 5-10 minutes longer to bake out the water.

chocolate coconut crumb cake recipe with vegan option
chocolate coconut crumb cake recipe with vegan option

Chocolate Coconut Crumb Cake

The Dessertivore
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 5 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 16 squares


For the Cake Layer

  • 4 tbsp solid virgin coconut oil (55 g)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100 g)
  • 1 large egg (or 1 tbsp flax meal and 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup flour (120 g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (120 ml)

For the Crumb Topping

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (140 g, 5 oz)
  • 6 tbsp solid virgin coconut oil (80 g)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (65 g)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup flour (90 g)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut (35 g)


Cake Layer

  • Prepare an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) square baking pan with parchement paper and heat the oven to 350° F (180° C.) Measure out the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, stir them together, and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, a spoon, or your hands, mix together the coconut oil and sugar. Some brands of coconut oil can be lumpier than others, so you may have to mix with your hands to get all of the lumps out.
  • Once the oil and sugar are combined into a crumbly mixture, add the egg and mix again. The batter should all come together at this point, and should be mostly free of lumps.
  • Add half the flour mixture and stir until just combined, then add the coconut milk and mix until it is also incorporated. Add the second half of the flour and scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure everything gets in, and mix one final time. Avoid overmixing.
  • Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake until the cake is about 7/8 of the way done, 30-35 minutes.

Crumb Topping

  • While the cake is baking, measure out the chocolate chips and set them aside. Then begin making the crumb topping.
  • Add the coconut oil, sugar, salt and flour into a large bowl and mix together, using your hands or a spoon. Using your hands is really the best way to get all of the lumps out of the coconut oil. Once the first four ingredients are combined, add the shredded coconut and mix until it is incorporated. The mixture should be slightly cohesive but still very crumbly.
  • When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and pour the chocolate chips onto the top, making sure they are evenly distributed. After that, break up the crumb mixture and sprinkle it evenly on top. It should be enough to cover the top of the cake, with just a little chocolate peeking through here and there.
  • Return the cake to the oven immediately, baking until the crumbs and coconut are browned, about 20-30 minutes.
Keyword cake, chocolate, coconut, vegan option