Baked Sweets and Treats

Dark Chocolate Date Cake with Pecans – Gluten Free


Healthy date cake recipe with Bard Valley Medjool Dates

This gluten free cake is a happy hybrid of chocolate torte meets sticky toffee pudding. It’s a dense cake bursting with sweetness and flavor. Medjool dates are what make it extra special. My goal was to come up with a date cake reminiscent some of the greatest desserts I could think of, but with my healthful twist. All natural whole food ingredients mean you can have a slice any time of day and feel awesome about eating cake. Sticky toffee sauce isn’t even necessary, really I promise this cake is a rock star without it.

healthy, sweet medjool datesI am so excited to be working with the best date grower in the states! I have loads of chewy, sweet caramely Bard Valley Medjool Dates here and I will be sharing gobs of recipes using them (if we don’t eat them all out of hand first!) The Bard Valley growers are responsible for 70 percent of the U.S. Medjool crop. These guys know a thing or two about how to grow the tastiest, most luscious dates in the world.

Gluten free chocolate date cake with toasted pecans and brown rice flour

Do you bake much with dates? If your answer is yes than you know how awesome they are for adding a rich caramel-like sweetness and chewy texture. I also love using Medjool Dates in my no bake treats such as Chocolate Pecan TartsChocolate Cheerio’s Tarts. They are awesome in my Baked Coconut Oatmeal with Pepper Nut Topping too. If you don’t use dates in your baking then let this cake can be your introduction.

Gluten free medjool date cake with chocolate and pecans

This cake would be great served at Easter brunch, tucked into a lunch box, for breakfast or as a snack with a piping hot cup of coffee or glass of chilled milk. Chocolate, dates and pecans join together to form an irresistible flavor combo. Decadence in dates.

Greek yogurt parfait with gluten free chocolate pecan date cake

A really fun treat was taking chunks of this cake and making a layered Greek yogurt parfait. I slightly freeze & sweeten thick, creamy fat-free Greek yogurt and crumble up some of this cake. Tastes like an ice cream sundae.

Greek yogurt parfait with gluten free chocolate pecan date cake

Graphic with pink fleur de lis for

Medjool dates from California

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for your entries. Congrats to Averie from Love Veggies and Yoga, Jenn from Jenn’s Menu and Lifestyle Blog and Kimberly from Fear’s Food. Enjoy your dates ladies!

Because I love you and want you to have dates for Passover, Easter and in celebration of everything spring I have teamed up with Bard Valley Medjool Dates to host a delicious giveaway. They have generously offered a prize pack for (3) readers that include:

  • 1-pound box of Bard Valley Medjool Dates (plenty for this cake!)
  • Bard Valley Organic Medjool Date Almond Roll  (12-oz)
  • Bard Valley Organic Medjool Date Coconut Roll  (12-oz)

This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only. Winner will be chosen by You have until Thursday, April 21st, 2011 midnight PST to enter. Please do one or more of the following to enter this contest, leave a separate comment per entry.


Dark Chocolate Date Cake with Pecans – Gluten Free

Makes about 10-12 servings


  • I prefer to use high quality unsweetened chocolate pieces in this cake. If you want it sweeter and don’t mind the added sugar than use bitter-sweet or semi-sweet chocolate instead.
  • Walnuts taste great in this cake too.


  • 16 pitted Bard Valley Medjool Dates, divide into 10 (for cake batter) and 6 chopped (for topping)
  • 1 cup boiling hot Water
  • 3/4 cups Corn Flour
  • 3/4 cups Brown Rice Flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia Powder -or- 7 droppers full of Vanilla Stevia Drops, adjust sweetness to taste
  • 1 large Egg, whisked
  • 1 cup fat free Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup fat free Milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 ounces bitter-sweet or unsweetened Chocolate, Chips or chopped pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans, divided into 1/2 and 1/4 cup portions
METHODToasted Nuts: Preheat oven to 350˚F with the rack in the center. Chop nuts to the size you want them & arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, tossing once or twice to toast evenly. Toast until slightly browned and fragrant.

Date Cake: Pre-heat oven to 350˚F with the rack in the middle. Line a 9×2 round pan with parchment paper. In a blender or food processor, purée dates with hot water. Set aside and let it cool. Whisk together flours, oat bran, salt, cocoa powder and ginger in a medium bowl. In another bowl combine date purée, egg, ricotta, butter, milk and vanilla. Mix together wet and dry ingredients. Toss chocolate pieces and 1/2 cup pecans with 1 tablespoon flour. Gently mix in chopped pecans and chocolate. Add stevia to sweeten and adjust to taste.

Put cake batter in the pan, be sure to flatten the top so cake bakes evenly. Gently press chopped dates and 1/4 cup pecans into the top of the batter. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out crumb free. Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Loosen cake from the edges of pan with a spatula and flip the cake onto a plate, remove parchment paper. Flip again so the dates and nuts are on the top of the cake. You can do this by topping the cake with a dinner plate, firmly pressing and flipping again.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with dollops of sweetened whipped cream, thick Greek yogurt, ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • Make a Greek yogurt parfait by layering pieces of cake with yogurt.
  • Serve with chocolate sauce.
  • Purée up some extra date sauce and drizzle over and dip away.


[donotprint]Date Cake Recipe Links

[/donotprint] Disclosure: I  have been compensated for my time to create a recipe, photograph and review Bard Valley Medjool Dates. I accept offers to post about products I love. I am proud to partner with BVMD on this project and to share them with you.

~ Marla Meridith

Join the Conversation

279 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate Date Cake with Pecans – Gluten Free

  1. I am a huge fan of dates!! I think we go through a pound per week! mmmm love them on long bike rides too. Your cake looks fabulous and I love the wholesome ingredients. What a great giveaway!

    1. Kristin: A pound of medjool dates a week??!! Awesome. I much prefer something like this date cake or dates with PB for workouts than packaged power bars. Your bike rides sound awesome! Just saw what you have been up to over at your blog. I miss those days of marathon training and super long scenic bike rides. Perhaps when my kids are bigger 🙂

  2. I have to admit I have never made a meal using dates…that cake might just be the incentive I need.

    1. Nikki: Let this be your push to use dates….you will not regret it. Actually you might become addicted! So mane awesome recipes you can come up with using them.

  3. My grandma used to make a date pudding that I loved. I never got the recipe, but it was so delicious!
    Your cake looks fantastic, Marla! I can practically smell the combo of flavors here 🙂

    1. Kristin: I love the idea of date pudding. Dates were pretty popular in the era of our grandmas. I think it is up to us to have them make a BIG comeback! Gotta come up with a healthy date pudding over here, sounds wonderful!

  4. My favorite way to have dates is dipped in peanut butter right before I work out.

    I have used them in smoothies for my kids and in many of my baking recipes, This past weekend I used them in chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. mmmmmm

    I LOVE dates!

    1. Heather: Dates dipped in PB, love that! That is a great pre or post workout snack. Adding them to smoothies is wonderful too. There is a very popular spot here in the OC that is known for there rich vanilla ice cream date shakes. People rave about them! Your cupcakes sound fab – do you have a recipe link for those?

  5. My gosh, I had no idea dates could be used in so many ways… and I am SO excited about it! Thank you Marla… I will be buying some at the store today! (looking for Bard Valley of course!)

  6. Do you know I haven’t had dates since I was little. My gradma always had them and it was a treat I always enjoyed at her house, I at them right out of the box, I’ve never baked with them and I don’t think I’ve even bought them!

    This cake sounds AMAZING Marla

  7. I absolutely love juicy mejdool dates…..especially in a date and nute cake. Eating it layered between yoghurt is genious……I wouldn’t mind eating it paired with some custard either. Looks wonderful.

  8. This recipe looks delicious! I grew up eating dates and they are a family favorite. I haven’t cooked with them much but it’s a great idea! Since my mom is gluten-free, this recipe would be perfect for me to make for Easter. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  9. Marla, I love dates but haven’t used them for a while but after looking at your delicious cake, I have decided to get the dates and give it a try. I will call my neighbors in to share with a nice cup of coffee. Thanks for letting me know about the dates, chocolate and nuts together in a mouth watering cake. Can’t wait.

  10. This date cake looks so delicious! I cannot wait for more recipes using sweet dates. I would love to make this cake right now. Thanks for its recipe. Keep posting these kinda recipes!

  11. I love dates all on their own! I’ll always remember my first experience eating a fresh date. YUM!! Great all natural sweetener in granola bars too!

  12. Your cake looks absolutely delicious and your photos always knock my socks off! Another beautiful creation and you made dates look like a million bucks! Gorgeous recipe!

  13. Oh my! Those Medjool dates are delicious. California does them so well! My favorite way to use them is in a smoothie with banana, almond milk, almond butter and a bit of ice. Yum!

    1. Leah: I love sweet/savory date combos. Prosciutto with dates are a great party appetizer. Love the touch with nutty gruyere cheese too!

  14. Oh my goodness, Marla, that is one incredible cake! Only you could make something so heavenly totally healthy. Truly amazing work on this. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe and fun giveaway… My favorite way to eat dates is just as they are! I love snacking on dried fruit. 🙂

  15. Yummy!!!!! I love how moist and sweet dates make anything you bake. No need for lots of additional sugar.
    The photos are sublime! I want to come over to your place and have a huge slice and enjoy one of those cups of coffee.
    It’s so wonderful that of our favorite baked goods can be gluten free. Delicious and nutritious. You are amazing Marla!

  16. I love just eating plain dates, although occasionally I like to torture my kids by pretending that they are beetles.

    1. Nice Christine! It is kinda fun to mess with the kids from time to time. Bet yours giggle loud when you do trick ’em with the date “bugs.”

    1. Marsha I love putting caramely dates in my oatmeal too. Mush meets goo meets fabulous! A big bowl of energy. Great way to start the day.

  17. In my opinion, Bard Valley makes the absolute best Medjool dates and they are the only brand I buy. I love them straight up as a yummy snack with a handful of almonds! YUMM!!

  18. I have a great recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip date cookies. They’re absolutely delicious and really pretty healthy!

    1. Tricia: Must come up with a recipe for oatmeal chocolate date cookies – love that idea! A fun twist on the raisins or dried cranberries that I usually use.

  19. Dates are like natures candy. I love them as a pre-workout snack, or added to baked goods. I just made a carrot cake bread with dates as the sweetener ( Awesome giveaway Marla! Your cake looks just perfect too.

  20. Gorgeous photography and the cake sounds delicious.
    It was so nice meeting you last week at the Peko Peko Charity Cookbook shoot. Hopefully our paths will cross again at BlogHer next month.

    1. Hi Lori! I enjoyed meeting you last week too. Let’s be sure to connect at BlogHer Food. Can’t wait to see the completed Peko Peko cookbook 🙂

      1. Sounds good. I will send you a message on Twitter or via email and give you my cell phone number.
        The Peko Peko cookbook is going to be gorgeous!

  21. Marla, I don’t usually cook with dates, but now you have me considering it, thanks to your great recipe. I love dates for snacks, so if I end up randomly winning I can promise you none of the luscious dates will go to waste!

  22. Your cake is not only filled with wonderful healthy ingredients, but it is beautiful as well. I will sometimes use dates in place of raisins, but really enjoy them in quick breads with walnuts.

  23. This is a truly amazing cake! I love dates and it is not often you see such a wonderful post utilizing this delicious fruit!
    Love it – can’t wait to try it!

  24. Love the combination of dark chocolate and Medjool Dates! I enjoy Medjool Dates simply stuffed with a toasted pecan or walnut. They are naturally so sweet and rich.

  25. I love Medjool dates; they are the steak of dates. I love to serve stuffed dates for holidays. I make a savory stuffing using cream cheese with a little chopped cooked bacon and some minced parsley and stuff the dates with them and for a sweet, I like to stuff the dates with some mascarpone cheese that has been lightly sweetened and then roll them in either coconut or sugar. I sometimes also fill them with some leftover buttercream icing and roll them in finely chopped nuts.

    1. Lynda, these are such fun ways to enjoy dates! Great idea with the savory cream cheese and bacon. Also love the mascarpone with coconut idea. The buttercream sounds decadent & fabulous! Thanks for sharing these recipes.

  26. This looks so good, I had put on my list to make a chocolate date cake. We’re on the same wave link, haha.

  27. My favorite way is honestly eaten plain, like candy! Or I like to add them to whatever I’ve roasting in the crockpot because the dates soak up the juice and become deliciously divine 🙂

  28. I recently fell head over heels in love with dates! They really are incredibly sweet…almost like candy! this cake sounds delicious! Decadent but with a hint of virtuosity.

    1. Joanne: I can see you have recently fallen in love with dates. Anne who just left a comment ahead of you linked to your awesome Boston Marathon cookies. Gotta try those, they are filled with great for you ingredients! How was Boston Marathon?? I am reliving my experiences there reading your posts about it.

  29. My brother just stuffed some dates with chorizo and then wrapped them in proscuitto the other day. Place them in a 450 degree F oven for about 5-7 mins and they are DELICIOUS!

    1. Krissy: Homemade Lara bars would be awesome & really simple too. I love having bars on hand for grab and go snacks and they are so much tastier when made from scratch. Medjool dates are the best “glue” for bars.

  30. I’ve only worked wth dates once before, making raw brownies…and they didn’t turn out so hot (ha! unintentional joke right there).
    I’d love the chance to redeem myself and try to make another batch of gooey raw brownies with avacado-chocolate frosting!

    1. Alyssa: Sorry to hear your first attempt at raw brownies did not work out – having had them myself I guarantee you will get it right. They are addictive! Love the idea of the avocado chocolate frosting too.

  31. Hi Marla – I stumbled across your blog via Averie, you two are impressive young women! I love dates in any shape or form. I am a high-milage runner, so I rely on these naturally energy packed jewels for fast energy. I like to keep things simple and place one dollop of almond butter in the center – divine!
    Hope I win 🙂

  32. I like to make crusts with crushed dates for my pies. Or just eat them drizzled with honey over coconut sorbet or Greek yogurt. Yum.

  33. I started reading a book that had a recipe for a morning smoothie including dates and since then it has become my favorite thing ever! It’s 1 banana, 1 orange, 2 dates, blueberries, and I usually add a little spinach to get some greens! 🙂

  34. Your cake looks great, but I have to say that my favorite way to enjoy dates is with a little bit of peanut butter smeared on top or chopped up and in a peanut butter sandwich. It’s like honey + peanut butter but better!

  35. I actually have only used them to make Averie’s raw vegan dark chocolate fudge balls, but they were HEAVENLY!

  36. the first way is straight out of the bag! I use chopped dates in trail mix & my hubby likes my mom’s date cookies.
    nineteen19 at blackfoot dot net

  37. I’m super boring, but I really just savoring Medjool dates on their own – they’re utterly delicious!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  38. My favorite way to eat dates is to incorporate them into raw vegan desserts. Sometimes, I just like to eat them plain, though! Yum!

  39. I love grinding dates and mixing them with almond, cocoa powder, honey and peanut butter for mini chocolate peanut butter date balls!

  40. i love making my own larabars with dates! dates is the major ingredient and then i add whatever i like in them like dried bananas, coconut, cashews, cranberries, etc. sometimes i even add protein powder 🙂

  41. I am a date virgin!!! lol No, really, I am. I have been dying lately to try them and what better way to start then with cake!!! Yummy!!!

  42. I ‘liked’ Bard Valley Medjool dates on facebook. These are my new favorite sweet since I have gone dairy free. There are so many good ideas and recipes to include them in!

  43. I ‘liked’ Family Fresh Cooking on facebook! Can’t wait to receive future updates in my newsfeed. Love your blog.

  44. And I just subscribed in my google reader. Phew, that is the most I have had to work for a date before! 🙂 Ok, Ok, I’ll stop the puns!!

  45. What is your favorite way to enjoy dates?

    Hey there Marla! I’m a vegan, and have recently started to try and purifty my diet and keep it as close to natural and free of processed sugar as possible. I have recently learned that I can take dates, mix them with some water, heat them up a bit, and smoosh them with a fork, and that creates a great natural sugar base for many of my baked goods. I love making mango scones with the date paste!! Might even make some now, yummy =)


  46. My favorite way to enjoy dates is as mini energy snacks! I adore mashing them and combining them with cocoa powder and/or coconut flakes for a quick and easy energy-boosting snack!

  47. I like dates in homemade Larabars. They give enough sweetness and stickiness to not use sugar. But they still look like roaches to me!

  48. I just love, love, love dates! They are something new I have just started eating. So delicious and nutritious!

  49. dates are amazing mostly because they are SO stinkin’ versatile! my favorite way to eat them would be stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon. 🙂

  50. I like putting dates in my smoothies in the morning, it gives me a little extra oomph for my morning!!!

    1 large or 2 small dates
    1/2 cup OJ
    1 scoop homemade protein mix
    handful of greens(this morning was rainbow chard)
    couple handfuls of berries or frozen fruit
    1 whole banana

    WIZZ away in a blender until delishiously smooth!!!

  51. I’m excited about this post. I have only ever eaten dates as the plain fruit, but was just talking to a friend last week about using them in cooking and then you go and post this. It looks great! Now I have a recipe to try. Thanks.

  52. I just love dates. I try to soak them to use in recipes but I end up stuffing them with cashew butter or chopping in the food processor and rolling in shredded coconut or just eating them out of hand until I’m too full to make anything with them.

  53. Yum, I love dates! I like to add chopped dates to my (homemade) morning oatmeal. 1-2 dates per 1/2 c of oatmeal adds just the right amount of sweetness.

  54. I also just added Family Fresh Cooking to my RSS feed – read about your blog through Avery’s – looks great! and that date cake is happening very soon….

  55. Pingback: Dates
  56. Oh man, my favorite way to eat cake? Probably as the base of a raw dessert, combined with some walnuts.I love to make raw gluten, so I use dates most often in those, or in crusts for raw tarts or cakes! Love that you made sticky toffee pudding a bit healthier.