Maple Walnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache

by Sarah

in Cakes, cholesterol free, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Egg-Free, vegan

This maple walnut cake with chocolate ganache is a vanilla cake is wrapped in maple frosting and filled with chocolate ganache. Dotted with maple candied walnuts, this cake is ready to bring maple to your kitchen in cake form.

Maple walnut cake with chocolate ganacheCake is one of my favorite things to make. I love the process of dreaming up what the cake will look and taste like, putting frosting on the cake, and choosing sprinkles (I have a mild sprinkles addiction, I’m always on the lookout for cute sprinkles). My favorite detail on this cake is the chocolate ganache applied on each layer of cake. It gives a sweet surprise when you cut each slice, and makes the edges look very clean.

Maple walnut cake with chocolate ganache

This maple walnut cake with chocolate ganache is vanilla flavored, with maple frosting. The chocolate ganache inside pairs well with the light maple frosting, so although it’s  one more step to make a ganache I highly recommend it. This cake is also completely vegan! It is also cholesterol free, which makes this cake a keeper if you are watching your cholesterol.

The key to making this cake is to space it out over a couple days. While you could do it all in one day, that would be kind of stressful, so if cake baking is one of your modes of relaxation – you want to space this out!

Here’s the timeline I did for this cake:

1. 3 days before, bake the three layers. Guys I bought a third 9 inch pan in order to be able to bake all three layers at the same time, but once the pan arrived I found out 9 inches does not mean the same thing to two different companies! The new 9 inch pan was slightly smaller than my other 9 inch pan, so I highly recommend you buy all your pans for one cake from the same maker.

2. 2 days before (or earlier!) make the ganache. It takes about 1o minutes to do and then you can set it in the fridge and forget it.

3. Optional 1 day before (or earlier!) candy the walnuts. This is totally optional so if you have nut allergies, please skip this step. The process all together takes about 10 minutes.

4. DAY OF: Level the cake, make frosting, crumb coat and frost the cake. I highly recommend you sift the powdered sugar. It makes the frosting come out much smoother and creamier, and is 100% worth the extra 10 minutes it takes to sift.

Maple walnut cake with chocolate ganache, cake slice

A note about sifting: I have not always been a powdered sugar sifter, mostly because it is an extra step. But I really wanted to make this cake have ultra smooth frosting, so after reading the threads on to sift or not to sift on cake central’s forums, I decided to sift this time. It was a little monotonous, but I was listening to music and the process only took about 10 minutes. I highly recommend you use a large sifter to speed up the sifting (see my notes below). The result was a frosting much smoother than when I did not sift, and I am now converted sifter.

If you are new to sifting, I recommend you get a sifter at least 8-9 inches wide and set it over a mixing bowl that is slightly wider than the sifter to catch all the powdered sugar coming through. Add a cup or two of powdered sugar at a time to the sifter, and push it through the sifter using a pliable rubber scraper spatula. The entire process took about 10 minutes for me to sift all the powdered sugar in this recipe.

Maple walnut cake with chocolate ganache

When decorating the cake, I used a large open star tip (Ateco 827) for the swirls on top, and a medium round tip (Ateco 804) for the lower border. My tips were part of the Ateco 6 piece pastry tubes and tips set. I finished it off with some edible gold stars and ball sprinkles. For more details about how I decorated the cake or the tools I used to level, frost, and decorate the cake, please visit my resources page on cake and cupcake tutorials and cake supplies.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Maple Walnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This velvety vegan maple walnut cake is filled with rich chocolate ganache, ready add some sweetness to your dessert table. Cholesterol free to boot!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 22 servings
  • 4½ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons imitation vanilla
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 6 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1⅓ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • ⅔ cup vegan margarine
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened soy milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon chocolate powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate Ganache
  • ½ cup unsweetened soy milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy free)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
Maple Candied Walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • ⅛ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1. In the days preceding, make candied walnuts and chocolate ganache. To make candied walnuts, mix all ingredients in a sauce pan and stir to melt sugar and coat walnuts. Let dry on parchment lined cookie sheets until completely dry.
  2. To make chocolate ganache, whisk all ingredients in a sauce pan except the oil, and stir at medium heat till combined and smooth. Stir in the oil, and then let cool overnight in the fridge till it hardens into a ganache.
  3. Make cake by whisking all dry ingredients together in a big bowl, and then mixing all the wet ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  4. Add the wet to dry and mix until just combined, and pour into three 9 inch round pans. Bake at 350F until an inserted toothpick comes clean (about 30 min).
  5. Let cake layers cool completely. Level cakes, cutting each layer to the same height using a cake leveler.
  6. Make frosting. Cream shortening and margarine together, then add in sifted powdered sugar and maple syrup and soy milk one tablespoon at a time as you mix the frosting. The more you add, the softer the frosting is. The listed amounts gave me medium consistency frosting.
  7. Frost cake, adding one layer of chocolate ganache on top of each layer before applying a coat of frosting on top of the ganache. Crumb coat the cake, and frost the remainder of the cake using an off-set spatula for the top and a long edged spatula for the bottom. It helps to make the frosting smooth if you dip your spatulas in warm water once in a while and pat dry before resuming frosting. Keeping the spatulas clean and warm ensures a smoother look.
  8. Add nuts and decorations to the cake. Enjoy!
The recipe for chocolate ganache is from the cookbook Chloe's Vegan Desserts. If you make her chocolate sauce (meant for drizzling) and chill it overnight it becomes a ganache.

If you want to make sure you have enough frosting to do many decorations, I suggest making a slightly larger batch (multiply each frosting ingredient by 1.3) so you have some leftover after all the decorations. As is, you can do decorations but will be tight on frosting.

If you are allergic to soy, please feel free to switch out the soy milk with almond milk.

maple walnut cake with chocolate ganache-nutrition facts

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Connie @ Sprig and Flours November 11, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Oh my goodness Sarah! This cake is breathtaking! Those layers are PERFECT. I am so blown away! I love maple walnut anything, and I was planning on making maple walnut cupcakes this weekend!!!


2 Sarah November 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Hi Connie! I’m so happy you like it! I can’t wait to see your maple walnut cupcakes, I’m positive they are going to rock!


3 ATasteOfMadness November 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Wow, this cake looks perfect! I think I also need to develop a sprinkles addiction 😉


4 Sarah November 11, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Thanks! The sprinkles addiction is very fun, but the sprinkles accumulate fast! I have a cabinet of sprinkles at my apartment and just ordered 2 more bottles of sprinkles on amazon today :X help.


5 Mira November 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

This cake is more than beautiful Sarah! Making a cake for me is a very difficult thing, because, honestly I’ve made a layered cake like 5 times only! The flavors in yours sound amazing, I must try it for the holidays! Thanks for the wonderful tips, too! Pinned!


6 Sarah November 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Hi Mira! I’m glad you like it! Making a cake was daunting for me at first too, but after starting to do it over a couple days instead of on one day, it feels much easier now!


7 Zainab November 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm

This is just dreamy!! LOVE!!!


8 Sarah November 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Thanks Zainab!


9 Alessandra // the foodie teen November 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm

You’ve outdone yourself once again! That cake is absolutely GORGEOUS – you never cease to amaze me with your seriously creative (and delicious!) ideas!


10 Sarah November 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Thanks Alessandra! I’m glad you like the cake! :)


11 annie@ciaochowbambina November 12, 2014 at 5:32 pm

This looks amazing! Maple Walnut has always been my favorite flavor of ice cream which means this cake will be a favorite also! Love how you’ve decorated it!


12 Sarah November 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Thanks Annie! I really like walnut flavored things too!


13 Nagi@RecipeTinEats November 13, 2014 at 5:03 am

Sarah, I am absolutely blown away that this is vegan. Speechless. This is so stunning!! The vegan community is going to go WILD over this. My friend’s son is allergic to eggs and I am going to make this for his upcoming birthday!!


14 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 9:26 am

Hi Nagi! I’m so glad you like it, I hope your friend’s son enjoys it too!


15 Karly November 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

Absolutely beautiful!


16 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 9:31 am

Thanks Karly!


17 The Blonde Chef November 13, 2014 at 8:14 am

Wow! I am just dying over how gorgeous this cake is! You really nailed it! Definitely on my list of things to make this holiday season!


18 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 9:31 am

Thanks! I hope you like it!


19 Jasmin November 13, 2014 at 10:37 am

Hi Sarah,
I really like this cake, and unlike you, I do not make cakes often, so when I do it, I’m kinda following recipe literally…
One question – can I use real vanilla instead of imitation vanilla (I don’t know will I find it)…


20 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 11:32 am

Hi Jasmin! You can certainly use real vanilla instead of imitation vanilla. Let me know if you ever have any other questions! I’m glad you like the cake!


21 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar November 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

I absolutely love the looks of this cake! And that ganache!?! SWOON!


22 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 11:33 am

Thanks! I’m a fan of ganache too!


23 Maryanne @ the little epicurean November 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Beautiful cake! I love the combination of maple, walnut, and chocolate. It’s perfect :)


24 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Thanks Maryanne!


25 Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy November 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm

so pretty!! and sounds so delicious!


26 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Thanks Caralyn! I’m glad you like it!


27 Manali @ CookWithManali November 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

wow, wow, wow! I am so impressed with frosting skills Sarah…very neat and beautiful! Pinned.


28 Sarah November 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Thanks Manali! I really enjoy frosting!


29 Joanne November 14, 2014 at 4:59 am

So this is beautylicious in the most RIDICULOUS WAY. OMG. I’m in love.


30 Sarah November 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Hi Joanne! I’m glad you like it! I love making cakes!


31 Holly | Beyond Kimchee November 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

Wow, you made all these cakes? They are gorgeous! I would hate to raise a cake knife to slice the work of art. Maple sounds so good with walnuts in the cake. I love baking cakes but the decorating part is something that I need to improve.


32 Sarah November 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Thanks Holly! The ganache in the middle is what keeps me slicing through the cake – looking forward to eating the ganache! There are some helpful decorating piping tips and bags I got on online and those helped me a lot with decorating!


33 Chichi November 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Very pretty cake and looks delicious as well


34 Sarah November 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Thanks Chichi!


35 Jess @ November 15, 2014 at 7:52 am

Oh my! This cake is absolutely stunning- love it! The flavours work so well and the swirls of icing are pretty adorable too!


36 Sarah November 15, 2014 at 10:12 am

Thanks Jess! I’m glad you like it.


37 Playful Palette November 15, 2014 at 10:25 am

Seriously Stunning! These cakes look way more gorgeous and I am sure are way more delicious than anything you could buy at a professional bakery! And now I am totally craving cake :)


38 Sarah November 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Thank you! You’re so kind!


39 Amanda November 16, 2014 at 10:57 am

This cake is GORGEOUS!!! Absolutely stunning! You are amazing!!!


40 Sarah November 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Amanda! Your creations are amazing!


41 The Squishy Monster November 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

I’m so ready for maple to come over—this looks incredible!!


42 Sarah November 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Thank you! I love maple too.


43 Arpita@ The Gastronomic Bong November 19, 2014 at 3:59 am

Oh My Goodness!! this cake looks INCREDIBLE!! Love everything about the cake.. Sifting the icing sugar is a fab tip.. Thanks for sharing! :)


44 Sarah November 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

Thanks Arpita! I’m glad you like it! Sifting made the frosting very smooth for me (it made it taste creamier and was easier to frost) – let me know how it goes for you!


45 lily November 19, 2014 at 10:50 am

Your cakes are beautiful! Love them!


46 Sarah November 19, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Thanks Lily! I’m glad you like them!


47 Beth November 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

Hi Sarah! Beautifully done!
This jumped to the top of my Thanksgiving dessert list – because honestly, pies are overrated! Haha! Question: If I didn’t want to make the cake vegan, do you know what I would do for wet ingredients? Eggs instead of the apple cider vinegar & some of the milk?


48 Sarah November 23, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Hi Beth, I’m glad you like the cake! The apple cider vinegar and baking soda help substitute eggs. I have not tried making this cake non-vegan so don’t know for sure how it will turn out, but this is how I would alter the recipe to make it non vegan:

changes to dry ingredients:
instead of 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use a tablespoon
skip the baking soda

changes to wet ingredients:
skip the apple cider vinegar, instead use 4 beaten eggs
skip the soy / almond milk and substitute it with milk

Hope it goes well. Let me know how it turns out! If you want some further information on how varying the amount of egg you use in a cake recipe affects how the structure and texture of the cake, here is a great article. Keep in mind for the recipe testing done in the article, the cake was a 9 inch, 2 layer cake. This maple walnut cake here is a 9″, 3 layer cake, so you will need to scale up egg amounts proportionately.


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