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Overhead view chocolate Christmas cake cut into slices dusted with powdered sugar.

Easy Chocolate Christmas Cake {Vegan, Paleo}

  • Author: Lindsay Cotter
  • Total Time: 50 min
  • Yield: 16 slices 1x


This Chocolate Christmas Cake, also known as Panforte Italian Christmas Cake, is easy to make with maple syrup, nuts, dark chocolate, cocoa, spices, and dried fruit. A Christmas cake that’s both vegan and paleo friendly with a rich chewy toffee-like texture. Serve in small slices or box it as DIY holiday gift.


Units Scale
  • 2 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as fig, dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins
  • 1 1/4 cup raw whole almonds, toasted and then coarsely chopped.
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts or hazelnut (halves), pre roasted or toasted (if you are using hazelnuts, remove the skin first)
  • 4 Tablespoons tapioca flour (see notes) *updated*
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon refined coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 ounces of chopped dark chocolate (around 90-100 grams)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (or agave if you are not vegan)
  • 2/3 cup coconut palm sugar. (See notes for other options)
  • Optional powdered sugar and cocoa or cacao powder to dust. For sugar free powdered sugar see notes.


Recipe UPDATED 12/1/2017

  1. Make sure all your fruit is chopped. If you are using figs or dried apricot, give them a pulse in the food processor to chop. If you are using smaller dried fruit, like raisins/cranberries, no need to chop.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the almond for 5-7 minutes or until golden. Each oven will vary.
  3. Remove from oven. *Note* you can use macadamia nuts that are roasted and not toast them.
  4. Place toasted almonds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. You can do the same for the macadamia nuts or chop by hand. You should still have large pieces of nuts once chopped.
  5. Now reduce your oven to 325F.
  6. Preheat oven to 325F.
  7. Grease or line a 8 to 9 inch cake pan (or spring form pan) with parchment paper. Grease the sides and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  8. Combine fruit, nuts, flour, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  9. In a small sauce pan combine your coconut oil, dark chocolate, and vanilla. Melt until combined on medium heat. Set aside. (See notes for alternative microwave instructions).
  10. Next Combine your maple syrup and coconut palm sugar in a small sauce pot. Mix on low until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. You can use a candy thermometer to heat the sugar and maple syrup until the temperature reads 240 F (115ºC.) This usually takes 3 minutes or so. Once it reaches that temperature, remove from heat.
  11. Immediately pour the hot syrup and melted chocolate mix over the fruit and nut mixture and with a sturdy spoon, mix quickly until everything mixed and coated. You will need to do this fast so it does “candy” in the bowl.
  12. Press the batter into prepared caked tin. I would use a spatula that is a bit damp to press the batter into the tin. That way it doesn’t stick. (see notes for tips to hold batter)
  13. Bake until set (about 30- 33 minutes or so) . Be sure not to overcook or it will crumble.
  14. Remove from oven.
  15. Let it sit and cool for a few hours.
  16. Once cooled, dust with cocoa and/or powdered sugar.
  17. Slice thin or into small blocks, then keep wrapped or in a tight container. Should make 15-20 small slices or more if you cut into small 1-2 inch squares.
  18. To keep flavor Wrap tightly in parchment paper and store in tin. Keeps well for a while there.


  • If you don’t have coconut palm sugar, then regular sugar will work but it is not paleo. I recommend using coconut palm sugar for that nutty tasty and lower glycemic index. Sugar free option, Swerve .
  • For melting chocolate in the microwave, simply place coconut oil, dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Cooking in 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted.
  • Notes for batter to set – If you find the batter is not thoroughly mixed with the hot syrup, once placed in the cake tin (pre baking), simply mix a a few tablespoons each of maple syrup and sugar again over high heat. Let it boil for 1 minute then pour on top of the cake tin in the areas that did not set. Then place in oven to bake. 
  • It’s best to use tapioca flour or rice flour. Coconut flour varies depending on the type of fruit you use.
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 35 min
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 190
  • Sugar: 12.5g
  • Fat: 12.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 17.4g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: holiday desserts, gluten free, paleo, low carb, cake, chocolate