Black Russian Coffee Cake


*This Black Russian Coffee Cake is gluten-free, starch-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar-free.*

Those who remember their cocktails would know that Black Russian is a vodka and Kahlúa beverage. Although I am allergic to alcohol, I’ve done my share of “practicing” in the past, with the hopes that I can train my body to get over the reaction, or to gain some resistance to some degree. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. But lucky for me, I’ve had the chance to taste many different drinks before I, finally, 100% gave up on that! Needless to say, I became the official designated driver to all my friends!

Because my entire life I couldn’t drink, I found another way around this doomed situation: I would cook and bake with alcohol instead – wine, spirits, liquors, liqueurs, eau de vies, you name it! Cooking and baking evaporates the alcohol component, thus leaving a sweet, boozy base flavour that I like . You’ll be surprised that for a non-drinker such as me, I have a big liquor cabinet!

Today’s recipe is a throwback to that half a lowball glass of Black Russian I tried way back when. Since I’ve gone Paleo for now – cutting out gluten, starches, refined sugars, and processed foods – this cake is a “legal” or acceptable treat for those who are following the Paleolithic Diet or SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). Note: For SCD, just replace the chestnut flour with same amount of almond flour or coconut flour. Well, the good news is, even if you are not on a strict, medically-indicated diet, you’ll still love this!

I’ll explain. First, the main ingredient of a Black Russian – vodka. Vodka comes from distilling either plant matter like grains (corn, rye, wheat), potatoes, or fruits. Obviously, when on a strict eating / health regime, it is ideal to avoid all kinds of alcohol. But realistically, it’s nice to have a drink occasionally. If you are questioning if vodka is Paleo-friendly, many of the trusted websites I’ve read says it is generally OK to consume vodka (since it is distilled and that means no gluten remains), and preferably if they are made from potatoes or fruits. As for SCD, vodka is allowable as a treat as well.

Now to the other half of the Black Russian – Kahlúa. Kahlúa is a liqueur, so that means it contains sugar, vanilla, and sometimes corn syrup. Not recommended for Paleo nor SCD. So, instead of using Kahlúa for my recipe, I used good old, plain brewed coffee. Now, you can mix rum to the coffee to approximate Kahlúa, but rum is on the list of alcohol that are “ok-but-drink-at-your-own-risk” for Paleo and SCD.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong in allowing yourself a treat here or there, whether or not you are in a strict diet plan or not. I mean, to me, it’s not all about depriving myself, but just clawing back. And if you are making a sweet treat, why not make it a “better” sweet treat by using ingredients that are gluten-free, starch-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar-free, if possible – like this cake!

I love this Black Russian Coffee Cake because it tastes just like a cake made with regular wheat flour. I was actually very shocked at the result! You’ll see on the recipe below that I used almond meal / flour (which I love, by the way) and a little bit of chestnut flour to round it out. I can’t believe it surpassed my expectations – it’s a soft, moist cake with chocolate and coffee overtones, and boozy, nutty background notes.

The cake is mild enough for kids as well (I fed it to mine), so have no fear serving it to the little ones – so long as they do not have nut allergies!

4.9 from 8 reviews
Black Russian Coffee Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A gluten-free, starch-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar-free cake recipe based on the popular cocktail, Black Russian.
Recipe Type: Dessert, Treats, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Lactose-Free, Refined Sugar-Free
Serves: 20 brioche cakelets or 7" or 8" bundt
  • 200 grams (2 cups) blanched almond flour / meal
  • 25 grams (1/4 cup) chestnut flour
  • 32 grams (4 tablespoons) all-natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 8 grams (2 tablespoons) espresso powder
  • 14 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder, sifted
  • 3 grams (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 355 ml (1-1/2 cups) raw honey
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons / 3 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) vodka, preferably distilled from potatoes or fruit (if you have grain allergies)
  • 30 ml (1/8 cup) brewed coffee, not instant*
  • 30 ml (1/8 cup) light or golden rum (optional)*
  • starch-free icing sugar for sprinkling (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease a 7-inch or 8-inch bundt pan or 20 of your choice of brioche tins.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together almond flour, chestnut flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium low until it is soft, about 1 minute.
  4. Add honey and vanilla, and beat on medium-low for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to wet and beat on medium until smooth, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat each time for 30 seconds before adding the next egg. Do not overbeat at this point.
  7. Then, stir in vodka, coffee, and rum (if using), mixing until just combined.
  8. Optional step: Chill batter in refrigerator, covered, for at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours.
  9. Pour batter into prepared baking pan or brioche tins. I used 2-3/4" and 3-1/2" brioche tins. For the 2-3/4", I put 34 grams of batter; for the 3-1/2, 50 grams of batter.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are set and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in the pan or brioche tins for 20 minutes, then invert on to a wire rack and cool for another 15 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle with starch-free icing sugar (if using).
  13. Pour batter into prepared
*If you have no sensitivities or specific diet, you can use 60 ml Kahlua coffee liqueur, in lieu of the brewed coffee and light rum.


  • Reply January 26, 2013


    These look amazing! I’m definitely going to try them. Always a fan of recipes that get around the full on sugar type treats. Finding the chestnut flour, I think will be a bit difficult here in Argentina, but I’m going to see about finding or making almond meal. I an probably also find ground quinoa.

    Either way, I’m going to see what I can do to come close.

  • Reply January 26, 2013

    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    These are such cute little cakes, Jen! Love the flavors here, though you can never go wrong with chocolate and coffee :).

  • Reply January 27, 2013

    The Café Sucré Farine

    You have found something wonderful to make despite your strict diet. These look amazing, Very moist and delicious!

  • Reply January 27, 2013


    I cannot believe these are diet friendly my friend 😀
    They look so tasty!


  • Reply January 27, 2013


    OMG I would eat like 10 of these in 1 sitting!

  • Reply January 27, 2013

    The Kitchen Boudoir

    These look amazing and fit right in to my current glutenfreeness. Brioche tins are on my list – I am still kicking myself for passing some over at a Value Village once!

  • Oh my gosh, these are so adorable! Can’t believe they are gf and sugar free! PS: Just wanted to let you know I made your apple kuchen and it was a huge hit!!! Everyone loved it! xoxo

  • Reply January 27, 2013

    suzanne Perazzini

    These look great. One of the commenters above mentioned your strict diet. Funnily enough I don’t feel it is strict because there are so many choices of foods to eat. It’s more a way of thinking and about making different choices. You are doing some great research which is interesting to read.

  • Reply January 27, 2013


    Your Black Russian Cakes look fabulous! Great recipe!

  • Reply January 28, 2013


    Such pretty and adorable little cakes…
    I cannot stop at 1 or 2 here..LOL They will be addictive I am sure!

  • Reply January 28, 2013


    Yum these look incredibly good! I love the different flours you used, wish I could have one of these right now I’m hungry!!

  • Reply January 28, 2013

    Sandra's Easy Cooking

    I love this Jen! What a great looking mini cakes…
    Would you believe that we don’t drink either..well i would have occasionally every few years lol a drink but my hubby never ever…don’t even have in my house for the guests hehehe…
    Anyhow beautiful photos and great recipe…I am glad that you are still going strong with the diet!

  • Reply January 28, 2013

    wok with ray

    I can eat a few (okay many) of these beautiful cakes in one sitting. Oh, looks so good! Thank you for sharing the post and have a good week! :)

  • Reply January 28, 2013


    Sweet little cakes Jen;-)
    Congratulations on not only sticking with your special diet but also coming up with some truly wonderful treats to add a nice dessert to your regime 😉 Love all the photos!

  • I love chocolate and coffee together and your cakes sounds heavenly. The photos are stunning as usual.

  • Coffee, chocolate in a cake? I’m in for it anytime. The cakes looks so dainty and pretty and I wouldn’t want to ruin by taking a bite into them. ♥ Jo

  • Reply January 29, 2013


    Nice! I can see you put a lot of thought into this…and it shows. These look wonderful!

  • Reply January 29, 2013

    amy @ fearless homemaker

    Ooh, these sound just wonderful! I love the combination of flavors + the photos turned out so gorgeous. I wish I could have one right now!

  • Reply January 29, 2013


    I have discovereda new coffee liqueur that I just have to tell people about Galliano Ristretto! Yummy. GREG

    • Reply January 29, 2013


      Oooh, Greg! I need to check that out – Galliano Ristretto! Is that from Italy?

  • Reply January 29, 2013


    Wow no flour! Nice one, looks so fluffy soft cake

  • Reply January 29, 2013

    The Squishy Monster

    I will now be on the hunt for chestnut flour =) Silly me didn’t even knew it existed.

  • Reply January 29, 2013

    ashley - baker by nature

    How can these be so cute, tempting, AND healthy?! I’m SO in.

  • Reply January 30, 2013

    Averie @ Averie Cooks

    They are stunning and love hearing how/what/why you modified them and how you kept the recipe so that it’s conforming to your current needs. So impressive!

  • Reply January 30, 2013

    Jen @ Savory Simple

    These are adorable and I love the boozy twist!

  • Reply January 30, 2013

    Jean (Lemons & Anchovies)

    You are alcohol intolerant like I am. The most common reactions for me are nasal congestion and flushed skin. If I drink enough alcohol (which isn’t a lot by most standards) my face starts to throb, too–at least it feels that way. Is your condition similar? I drink anyway–wine mostly but I definitely have a limit. I have tons of liqueurs that I never use for cocktails but go into my baked goods instead.

    This cake has my name written all over it. Coffee and chocolate were meant to go together this way. I can just imagine the flavor. Now I know how my almond meal will be put to use. :)

  • Reply January 31, 2013


    Wow these look and sound so incredible- super creative!

  • Reply January 31, 2013


    I pinned this a few days ago and completely forgot to leave a comment- this splendid cake just blew my mind!
    You’re kind of my hero right now for sticking out the Paleo diet, I don’t think I’d last more than a few hours. 😉 And yes, back to the darling little cakes- WOW! Everything about this recipe, the name, the visage, the deep chocolate colour- Love it all!

    P.S. May I please borrow your willpower and cutlery sometime? 😀

  • Reply February 10, 2013

    Mrs Deer

    So class and pretty!

  • Reply March 26, 2013


    I would LOVE to try this!!! But… I’m allergic to tree nuts. Any ideas of a gluten-free substitute for the almond & chestnut flours? Thanks!!!

  • Reply October 18, 2013


    Are you really suggesting that a wheat allergy would be triggered by vodka? It’s a distilled spirit. It contains no wheat antigens whatsoever. It’s just alcohol and water, maybe trace essential oils. Dear, dear, dear.

  • Reply July 3, 2015


    Really love this recipe, works for my sister (who cannot tolerate gluten or lactose). The first time I made it I did the bundt and was unable to get it out of the pan, resulting in a delicious mess that I turned into cake balls.
    Now I use cupcake tins and it works a treat!

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe: