Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Ganache (Paleo, Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Ben and I celebrated the two-year anniversary of our first date yesterday.  In addition to being an important relationship milestone, I thought having an anniversary was a great excuse to bake.  I asked Ben what dessert I should make for our special day, and he said, "Why don't you make a cake?".

It was such a brilliant idea, not only because cakes are the most majestic of all the desserts, but also because I have not posted any cakes on this blog yet.  I've posted lots of cupcakes (too many, some might say), but no actual cakes.

I set off in search of a great paleo chocolate cake recipe to use, since I haven't really made any paleo chocolate cupcakes that I could adapt (although these muffins came pretty close).  When I found this recipe from Zenbelly Catering, I could tell it was a hit from the dozens of raving comments.  Food blogs are the best!  Try to find that many (or any) reader responses to a recipe in an actual print cookbook.

All those readers were right--this is an awesome cake!  I made a few changes to the cake recipe, including adding some coffee to deepen the chocolate flavor.  Don't worry, the cake won't taste like coffee (or coconut, or almonds--the flavor is pure chocolate!).

For the ganache, though, I wanted to try something a little different, so I added peppermint extract.  If you don't like mint and chocolate, you can just leave that out.  Ben and I both loved it, but we are the kind of people who drink hot chocolates with peppermint schnapps all winter long.  (Is it time for those yet?  Almost?  They are basically the only thing I like about cold weather).

I wanted to make a whipped cream filling as suggested in the original recipe, but my coconut cream didn't have enough time to set up in the fridge.  Make sure you click on over to the original recipe if you want to try the cream layer for your cake--it sounds amazing!  I'm all over that for our third anniversary, or the next time another cake-worthy occasion comes along.

Ingredients (makes a 2-layer 8 or 9" round cake; serves 8-12; adapted from Zenbelly Catering):

For the cake:

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour/tapioca starch
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon finely ground coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, plus extra for greasing pans
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the peppermint ganache (makes enough for the filling and top of the cake; double to cover the sides:

3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
Pinch of salt

For decorating:

1/4 cup pecans (other nuts, shredded coconut, or sprinkles would also work well)

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350.  Line the bottom of two 8 or 9" round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease the paper and sides of the pan with coconut oil.  To make a two-layer cake with larger pans, double the recipe.  You can also make a taller layer cake by using 6" cake pans, but you may need to adjust the baking time.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  In another large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or almost clean.  Keep in mind that the cake may need more or less time in the oven if you used a different-sized pan.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10-20 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.  Remember that my quantities make just enough to fill the cake and cover the top, so you should double the recipe if you want to cover the sides of the cake as well (I think I will try that next time).  If your chocolate seizes up like mine did, you may need to use an electric mixer to smooth it out.

Place one layer of the cooled cake, flat side up, on a piece of parchment.  Use an offset spatula to spread a layer of ganache over the cake.  Place the other layer, flat side up again, on top.  Cover the top (and sides if desired) with the remaining ganache.

To decorate the cake like I did, crush the pecans.  I placed mine in a zip-top bag and pounded them with a mallet--you can also finely chop them with a knife.  To make a heart (or another shape) stencil out of parchment, fold a piece of parchment paper in half and draw half a heart, then cut it out.  If you are not worried about your shape being symmetrical, you don't need to fold the parchment.  Unfold the stencil and gently place it on top of the cake.  (Alternatively, you could use the cut-out instead of the outline to create a chocolate heart in the middle of a pecan-covered cake).  Carefully sprinkle the desired topping in the middle of the stencil (or around the cut-out shape).  Gently press down on the topping to help it adhere to the cake.  Slowly lift off the stencil or cut-out, being careful not to spill extra toppings on the cake.  Slice and serve!

This cake keeps for up to three days, covered, at room temperature.  It would probably keep for even longer in the refrigerator.

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  1. Just found your site through cookie and kate comments. Your blog is delicious! I'm excited to try your recipes!

    1. Thank you--I'm so glad you're here! Let me know what you think if you try some of the recipes :).

  2. Love the addition of Peppermint!! it's a perfect match with chocolate!

    1. Thank you! I LOVE mint and chocolate--it's right up there with caramel and salt in my top flavor combinations.

  3. Oh good gravy that chocolate frosting looks heavenly.

  4. Made these in cupcake form with double the ganache for my son's first birthday. LOVE it! I had to whisk the ganache for a looooong time to get the texture I wanted, but it finally turned out right. =]

    1. I'm so glad you liked it. Happy birthday to your son! The ganache does take a little while if it seizes up, and perhaps even longer with double quantities. I'm happy it worked out in the end! :)

    2. Did you bake them at the same temp for cupcakes?? Can't wait to do these!

    3. You should be able to bake at the same temperature for cupcakes--just check them early since they'll finish more quickly. Let us know how it goes!


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