Chocolate Marshmallow Layer Cake, Gluten Free


This is a layer cake for people who love all things very chocolate and marshmallow. The thick chocolate icing is ganache whipped into buttercream with more marshmallow fluff. The icing is spackled on the cake a little like Aunt Harriet applied her 1970’s vintage foundation. The icing can be dialed back a little, but who would want to do that?

Try to find the real marshmallow fluff – the one with just a few ingredients rather than the other one with a list longer than this recipe.  It is hard to find around here and I used to order it but our local Fresh & Easy carries it these days.

After spending last week with rhubarb it was time to break out the chocolate. And lots of it. I’m happy the evil red stalks of faux-celery are all gone for this year. Someone in my house mentioned that I might be over-compensating with the chocolate, but that person also finds rhubarb tasty. So we might be even.

I slathered on the icing until it is its own layer apparently because I grew up in a house where frosting was dialed back to invisible-to-the-naked eye. My mother thought a crumb coating was the frosting. You could see the cake through the icing. We affectionately called it naked-cake and snickered as small children and odd Uncles are apt to do. My mother was not amused.

Some people who also live in this house (the one who likes faux red celery and takes good photos) snicker at the icing being called another layer in the cake. Who said layers in a layer cake have to be, well, cake? I’m pretty sure that this layer cake even with an icing layer still counts as modest compared to oh, say, the 12 inch tall layer cake.

And after that rhubarb encounter all I can say is that ridiculous amounts of chocolate sure make everything better.

And happy birthday to my little sister. Cake?

Chocolate Marshmallow Layer Cake
  • 5 oz. GF AP flour (1 scant cup) (2.5 oz brown rice flour, 1.25 oz each of white rice and tapioca flours)
  • 6 oz. sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 2 oz. unsweetened cocoa (almost ½ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon Saco Buttermilk Powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pectin
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted (with butter)
  • 3 tablespoons brewed coffee (regular or decaf)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 4 oz. Marshmallow Fluff (a generous 1 cup)
Liquid Lunch for Cake layers
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons your favorite liqueur
  • 4 oz. sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 8 oz. heavy cream, scalded (1 cup)
  • 16 oz. bittersweet and semisweet bar chocolate chopped
  • 2 oz. Marshmallow Fluff (about ½ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 9-10 oz. powdered sugar, sifted (about 2 cups)
  • 3 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate Bar for making curls
  • chocolate jimmies (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and dust (2) 8" or 9" layer cake pans with unsweetened cocoa. Set aside.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, buttermilk powder, baking powder, pectin, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. In a large microwave safe bowl (glass is preferable) melt butter and chocolate together and cool slightly. Mix in coffee, vanilla, eggs and fluff. Whisk to homogenize. Pour wet mixture into the dry and mix on low until everything is thoroughly blended. Turn mixer to medium high and mix about 2 minutes until the batter is smooth, shiny and a little fluffy. Divide evenly into the prepared pans. Rap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn oven to 325 and bake about 20 minutes more. Check. It might need 10 more minutes. Remove the cake as soon as a toothpick comes out with some gooey chocolate crumbs on it, but not raw batter. Don't over bake the cake or it will be dry.
  3. Let it cool for about 5 minutes and then turn them out on a rack to cool completely before applying the liquid lunch and then icing.
Liquid Lunch
  1. Mix the ingredients together and heat in a small pan over low heat until hot or for about 1 minute in the microwave. You want it to reduce a bit and get really hot. Cool slightly. Poke holes in the cake layers with a toothpick. Brush the liquid lunch on each layer. Repeat. Let layers dry thoroughly before applying icing.
  1. Heat cream until it is simmering and very hot, scalded - just. Pour over chopped chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl. Let it sit without touching it for about 2 minutes. Don't touch! Now stir it up just until the chocolate is thoroughly mixed in and the mixture is glossy. Let it cool a bit. Add the vanilla and Marshmallow Fluff. Stir to mix it all together - it will resist but it will come together. Let that cool until it begins to thicken slightly. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whip attachment, start mixing it on low. Increase to medium high and whip until it looks fluffy. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time. Mix on low until it is worked into the icing. Whip on high again to fluff it up. Check and see if it is stiff enough to use as frosting (this is where I might have added too much sugar and tried to whip it to compensate - leave it at one cup if it seems to be easy to spread and holds a shape, even if it feels soft - it'll firm up as it sets). If not, add the other cup of sugar. Whip again. Apply a coat to seal in the crumbs and then frost with a nice thick application. Pipe or just slather it on.
  1. Using a vegetable peeler make as many curls as you want to apply to the cake. Place on cake. Use jimmies to apply to the sides if you want. Eat cake and enjoy that chocolate buttercream layer.


  1. what is gluten free AP flour? The recipe looks divine, but I don’t know what kind of flour that is.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Sylvia. GF AP flour is any variety of gluten free all purpose flour mixes: Better Batter, C4C, Bob’s Red Mill, etc. You’ll find more information about that on the About Flours page on the home page (look at the top of the page).

  2. what is “Liquid Lunch for Cake layers”.
    I can’t wait to bake this cake!!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Lesley – It is a simple syrup make with added liqueurs that you brush on a cake before applying the buttercream. It keeps the cake moist. Liquid lunch is an affectionate term for brushing sugar and liqueur into the cake.

  3. Ooooh that looks wonderful! I need to make it dairy free too though. I wonder if the cream and buttermilk powder could be substituted out without changing the deliciousness too much?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Emily – I have not made the recipe without the dairy. You could certainly use another type of frosting without dairy if you have a favorite. Not sure what would happen if you left out the buttermilk powder. Let me know how it works out if you try it.

  4. I’m completely and utterly impressed with this cake. You have my heart!!!!

  5. I love thick layers of frosting on cake – as thick as the layers of cake is fine by me!

  6. On the icing it says 16 oz bittersweet and semisweet chocolate-is that 16 oz for for each chocolate or combined,

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Combined. I like to mix the less sweet chocolate with the sweeter, but the total needs to be 16 ounces.