Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake

Vegan Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake
Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan
Photo from Kate Lewis from my book Vegan Chocolate

This easy-to-make and easy-to-enjoy Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake is for anytime, but it really does fit Thanksgiving perfectly. The primary sweetener in the cake batter is Maple Syrup, which was named Indian Sugar by the colonists, who learned about it from the Native American people. Maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple. A gallon of syrup, depending on the quality, requires thirty-five to fifty gallons of sap. I use the dark Grade B syrup for baking (and it is the least expensive tooo) but Grade A, dark amber can also be used too.

Cranberries are grown almost exclusively in the United States, and are a Thanksgiving staple ingredient, as a sauce, (I grew up on the canned kind), and cooked or uncooked relishes. This tart, vibrant red berry is very healthy too! Many years ago in Italy, I cooked a Festa Americana as Thanksgiving known, for Italian friends. Fresh cranberries were the  only basic holiday ingredient I could not find anywhere.

And then there are the Pecans in the crumb topping of the cake. Pecans are native to North America and high in vitamin E. The best are said to come from Georgia. Store nuts in your freezer or refrigerator so they don’t become rancid. Actually, taste them first to make sure they are fresh!

Check out the photographs sent to me by readers who have made this popular cake, from the recipe in my book Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts.


Cranberry Cake Collage
Photos from Robin Asbell, Adam Ef, Meshell in Your City, and Squirrel of Nom

Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake

Cranberries, pecans, and oats are health-promoting foods, and I prefer them in this recipe. But feel free to use any combination of dried fruit and nuts you like. As a beach lover, my visual cue for the crumb, which needs to be moistened but not wet, is the consistency of damp sand.

Makes one (9-inch / 23-cm) cake, 10 to 12 servings



  • 1⁄2 cup / 57grams dried cranberries
  • Zest and juice of a medium organic orange
  • 3⁄4 cup / 79grams pecans, roasted and cooled, coarsely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup / 25grams rolled oats, toasted and cooled
  • 1⁄2 cup / 83grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered, or use maple sugar
  • 2 tablespoons /30 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons /21 grams vegan chocolate chips


  • 1 cup / 129grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 3⁄4 cup / 103grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1⁄4 cup / 25grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1⁄3 cup / 64grams organic granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon / 5grams aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon / 5grams baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 75 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3⁄4 cup / 180 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 3⁄4 cup / 180 ml any nondairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon /15 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon /15 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon pure orange oil (optional)
  • 1⁄3 cup / 57grams vegan chocolate chips
  • 1⁄2 cup / 120 ml Chocolate Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze (optional)


Make the Crumb

  1. Mix the cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl and soak for 10 minutes, or until softened. (The amount of time needed depends on the dryness of the fruit.)
  2. Drain the cranberries reserving 1 tablespoon / 15 ml of the juice. Return the cranberries to the bowl, and add the pecans, oats, whole cane sugar, zest, and oil. If the crumb is dry, add the reserved tablespoon of juice. Think damp sand. Stir the chips into the crumb and set aside while you make the cake.

Make the Cake

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F / 180˚C. Oil the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle (or paper cut to fit). Do not oil the paper.
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
  3. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, vinegar, and orange oil (if using) in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir the chocolate chips into the batter.
  4. Pour about half the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with half the crumb, going light on the center. Pour the remaining batter over the crumb, using a small spatula or thin knife to spread batter to the sides of the pan if necessary. Sprinkle the remaining crumb over the batter, again keeping the center relatively light on crumb.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  6. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a piece of parchment on top of the cake and invert. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Invert the cake again, top side up on the rack and cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.


Serve the cake at room temperature, or warm slices in the oven at 325˚F / 160˚C for 5 minutes. If you are glazing the cake, wait until after it is warmed and drizzle with Chocolate Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze.


Store the cake in a covered container overnight at room temperature. Refrigerate wrapped tightly for up to three days.


Chocolate Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze

You won’t need to chop or melt chocolate or add oil to make this luxurious chocolate glaze that is suitable for any cake. All it takes is bringing a kettle of water to just under the boil and sifting the sugar and cocoa. The glaze can also be refrigerated for a month in a covered container, so you may want to make a double batch.

Makes 1/2 cup / 120 ml, enough for one 9-inch / 23-cm cake



  • 1 1/3 cups / 140 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons / 16 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons / 40 ml boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract



  1. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa into a small heatproof bowl.
  2. Add the boiling water and whisk until the sugar and cocoa are dissolved and the glaze is smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and whisk until incorporated.


Refrigerate in a covered container up to one month. Allow time for the glaze to return to room temperature before using, stirring a few times. If the glaze becomes too thick to pour, stir in a teaspoon at a time of hot water until the desired consistency is reached.


Recipes from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan. Photo © Kate Lewis 2013

  • many thanks for your chocolate cookbook.
    baked your chocolate pecan coffee cake for my birthday the other day.
    didn’t have cranberries, so i used cherries.
    didn’t have orange juice, so i used lemon and lemon zest.
    it, was, fabulous.
    it, was, amazing.
    it was a hit.
    yum, yum.
    thanks, for a great recipe that is sure to be baked again, and again.
    also baked up the cake that i call the science experiment cake… apple cider vinegar, baking soda do the rising. i have a few versions of this cake, but fran… yours is the best. it was another hit for the son-in-laws birthday. didn’t need icing either. soft, moist, tender cake.
    thinking about trying truffles.

    • Hi Geneviève,
      I have not yet tested this cake with a gluten-free flour mix, I do believe it would work if a very good mix was used. I have good success with @bobsredmill 1:1 all- purpose gluten-free baking flour. The bag has a blue label.

      Let us know how it goes.
      All best,

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