Yes, my fellow paleo-heads, it turns out you CAN have your (paleo) chocolate cake and eat it, too!
Chris' birthday was yesterday, and I knew I couldn't let it pass without some sort of special dessert. Double-chocolate muffins and fudgy brownies and chocolate chocolate-chip cookies are fantastic in their own right. But around these parts, a birthday calls for something super special and out of the ordinary.
Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting sounded perfect….but I was fairly dubious about finding a paleo-fied recipe for either component that would not only taste good, but would have a traditional 'cake and frosting' textures.
My husband has high standards. Or maybe just high-falutin' taste buds? Regardless….
I'd started on the hunt for the perfect recipe about a month ago, sifting through blogs and websites and cookbooks, reading reviews and raves and comparing ingredients and finding what I considered to be the best candidate. Had I been a lesser woman, I would have made a couple test cakes just to be sure, but with Chris working so many hours and the kids in school all day, I knew that was more temptation than was wise, since I would be the one spoon-licking and taste-testing and leftover-nomming. So, with fingers crossed and my ingredients assembled, I gave a chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes, originally from Elana's Pantry, a go.
The recipe first calls for sifting a half-cup of coconut flour…and I was immediately doubtful. You see, I detest coconut flour, except as a lightening agent combined, in small amounts, with almond flour. There's something about the taste and texture that is so blatantly unpalatable that I almost immediately spit out anything made with it, if I can identify it. It's like my mouth just rejects it. I mean, I want to like it…I really, really do (especially since I have 4lbs of coconut flour currently sitting in my pantry). I just can't get on the coconut flour bandwagon.
The coconut flour is sifted with a half-cup of cocoa powder (of which I wholeheartedly approve), a bit of salt and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, 10 eggs are combined with honey and oil and vanilla and a bit of orange zest.
Let me repeat that.
10 eggs. TEN EGGS. In one chocolate cake.
Now, I know the science of cooking is not my forte, but 10 eggs sounds heavy to me, and with only a cup of dry ingredients to counter the eggs/honey/oil, I was fairly certain the cake was going to be something of a disaster. A tasty disaster, to be sure, but I anticipated a rich, heavy dense creation, almost like a torte. I should have known, though, that Elana wouldn't steer us wrong!
The original recipe calls for grapeseed oil. I have never used grapeseed oil, and just substitute a very light olive oil instead. Last year, my friend Niki, who is currently working like mad on her very first cookbook, let me in on one of the secrets to her incredible chocolate cake….she uses olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and the fruitiness of it gives her cake an incredible texture and flavor and depth. I knew the same trick would work here…and it did, perfectly.
Unfortunately, Niki won't share any more of her amazing recipes with me, because she knows I love them and can't stop raving over them and end up sharing them on my blog. I can't imagine why she would think that *coughs*
The wet ingredients are combined with the dry, divided between cake pans that have been oiled with coconut oil and lightly dusted with coconut flour, and popped into the oven for about 40 minutes.
In the meantime, I went ahead and started on the frosting. Using the recommendation of a blogger, I doubled the recipe to have enough to frost the cake and have a little left over…lets be honest. The best part about making cakes is the frosting.
Related Sidestory: My mom has the most incredible icing recipe (non paleo) for cakes. She's one of those uber crafty women that just excels at any medium, including cake decorating, and naturally, she has an awesome icing recipe to go with it. Some of my best memories are of my brothers and I sneaking through the kitchen…repeatedly..to swipe a finger through the icing when we thought she wasn't looking, and lingering around just for the chance to lick the beaters. Any time I make a cake and frosting, I think of her.
Since I'm thinking of her now, I'll say hi, cause I know she's reading.
I love you.
Your icing rocks.
That is all (for now).
Back to the paleo frosting, however…..
I kept thinking I was going to have to track down some odd version of paleo-fied powdered sugar…I could not wrap my brain around honey, dark chocolate chips and olive oil (again substituted for the original recipe's grapeseed oil) could possibly make frosting. Oh, me of little faith.
The chips got melted down in the oil and honey, combined with vanilla and a pinch of salt, stirred thoroughly and set in the fridge or freezer to cool a bit and thicken up.
Then it was pulled back out and whipped into OMGCHOCOLATEFROSTINGness with a handmixer.
Seriously, just look at this.
I'd let the mix cool a little too much while I ran carpool to pick up the kids, so I ended up softening the mix in the microwave for about 10 seconds. It still wasn't enough, as it turned out, and I had to add a little water to thin it. And once I started spreading it on the cake, I found out I should have softened/thinned just a wee bit more for the perfect consistency.
I was really wishing I'd done this part before the kids came home..I didn't want to share the joy of licking the beaters with them. I mean, they need memories too…but. BUT.
Reluctantly, and with a fairly heavy sigh, I finally gave up the beaters to the boys and let them become sticky-faced chocolate munchkins while I assembled the cake.
So…you know how I mentioned my awesome, rockin', uber-creative and utterly talented mom with the wicked cake-decorating skillz?
I inherited NONE of that.
Really, my decorating skills are pathetic. REALLY pathetic. I've googled, I've watched videos, I've been tutored and taught and I've had more than my fair share of practice at leveling, frosting, and icing cakes.
I still totally suck at it.
I long ago embraced my suckiness, which I prefer to consider an excellence in rusticity.
These are not sloppy, poorly-decorated amateurish cakes. These are cakes hand-crafted with a purposeful rustic charm.
Yeah. That's it. Purposeful rustic charm.
All those doubts and worries about the cake (taste and texture) completely melted with the first bite. Through whatever wizardry Elana wields, the cake is light and airy. In fact, I would say it was a little more on the dry side than on the moist- not in a bad way by any means- and not dense at all, and the frosting is rich and thick and completely satisfying.
While I loved the addition fo the orange zest, I would have liked a bit of orange flavor in the frosting as well. I think the cake could be equally good (or better, for my own personal tastes) with a splash of almond extract in the cake batter, or for my mint-chip loving boys, just vanilla in the cake batter and dividing some of the frosting and mixing in a bit of peppermint extract for the filling layer.
As written, though, this is amazingly good.
This isn't just chocolate cake, my fellow cavemen. This is OMGCHOCOLATECAKE!
This is #paleoglutenfreechocolateLOVE.
This is the end of the blog, because I'm going to shove another few bites in my mouth, just because I can. I'm also going to see about getting some better dishes, because trying to photograph food on an upside-down plastic lid to get a white, bright surface just doesn't cut it.
Go forth. Make this. Be excellent to one another.
¾ cup coconut flour, sifted
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 ½ cups honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange zest
¼ teaspoon almond extract
coconut oil and additional coconut flour, for oiling/dusting pans
In a small bowl combine flour, cacao, salt and baking soda
In a large bowl using an electric hand blender, blend eggs, oil, agave nectar, vanilla and orange zest or almond extract
Add dry ingredients into large bowl and continue to blend
Oil (2) 9-inch cake pans with coconut oil and dust with coconut flour
Pour batter into pans and bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes
Remove from oven, allow to cool completely then remove from pans
Frost and serve
doubled fromt he original recipe to adequately fill and frost the 2 layer cakes (plus lick the beaters)
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch celtic sea salt
In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and olive or grapeseed oil
Stir in honey, vanilla and salt
Place frosting in freezer for 15-30 minutes to cool
Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
Frost over cake
Serve. Love. YUM.