I should start by letting you know that this cake is also gluten free, grain free, dairy free and sugar free too!! But you’d never be able to tell.
This weekend was a pretty special one.
It was my honey Cameron’s birthday, and we were able to sneak away for a peaceful weekend in the beautiful Coromandel. Prior to this little trip, I spent hours (literally), trying to figure out the perfect birthday cake I could make for him — one that was healthy with none of the bad stuff, yet so yummy that you wouldn’t even know that it was! We’ve been sticking to the paleo thing for the most part (minus a few legumes, veggies, and nuts here and there), so while the cake is completely paleo – the frosting isn’t (darn those delicious peanuts!). Earlier in the week, I had asked him for some ideas and what kind of cake he’d like…he wasn’t too helpful. He just told me that he would love whatever I came up with, and it was all in my hands (great, no pressure!). I finally decided to combine his two favorites — chocolate and peanut butter! Surely I couldn’t go wrong with that!
Oh. My. Gosh. Literally, that’s all I can say. I mean — I’m not a ‘baker’, and I haven’t had a lot of experience in the baked desserts department, so I’m not going to pretend I know it all when it comes to baking the perfect cake, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to find that this cake turned out — perfect! And even better, Cam loved it. (I mean, that’s probably an understatement)
Here’s my recipe so you can try it for yourself.
Spectacular Dark Chocolate Cake with Peanut-Butter Frosting
Dietary Info: GF/DF/SF/PA/V and Vegan! (*see notes at end of post for dietary codes)
Serves 6 (generous cake wedges)
For the dry ingredients:
- 2/3 c. (40g) desiccated coconut, finely ground to flour *see notes
- 45g almond meal *see notes
- ¼ c. (15g) organic cocoa powder
- ¼ c. (70g) dark chocolate nibs, finely ground
- ½ tsp. sea salt
For the wet ingredients:
- 6 eggs
- ½ c. coconut oil
- 8 (100g) large medjool dates *see notes
- ½ c. freshly brewed espresso (2 shots + hot water)
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
- Lightly spray cake pans with cooking spray.
- In a food processor (using blade), combine desiccated coconut and dark chocolate nibbs, grind until fine. Mix in remaining dry ingredients, set aside.
- Soak medjool dates in water for 30 minutes or up to an hour. (I did this prior to starting my recipe, so I didn’t have to wait around for the dates to soak). Drain, then add to food processor with 2 tsp water and blend on high speed to form a paste.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs with electric mixer for 10 seconds. Add coconut oil, date paste, espresso and vanilla extract and continue to whisk on medium speed until well combined, for about a minute.
- Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until mixture is well combined. Scrape sides of bowl to get all of mixture, and continue to beat on high for another 45 seconds, until batter is fluffy. The batter should resemble a thick pancake mix (not so much cake batter), so don’t worry if it seems a little runnier then you were expecting!
- Divide batter evenly into three lightly sprayed, 5-inch, non-stick cake pans (I use spring form pans – much easier!), or two 6-7 inch cake pans. Spread evenly so tops are nice and flat.
- Carefully place your three small cake pans on a cookie sheet, and pop in preheated oven on the middle shelf.
- Set timer for 20 minutes (for the three 5-inch cake pans), or 25 minutes if using two 7-8 inch pans or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Using a butter knife, carefully run along inside edges of cake pan to loosen the sides of cake, then transfer to wire rack. (If using spring form cake pans, use the butter knife around inside edges of cake pan, then unclip sides of spring form pan, cake should easily detach from sides. Then use the butter knife to slide along bottoms of spring form pan, and transfer cake to wire rack to completely cool.)
- You may find that the top of the cakes aren’t flat anymore, due to rising, so if so simple take a sharp serrated bread knife, and carefully cut the ‘muffin top’ off of each cake, so each surface is nice and flat.
- I used desiccated fine coconut for my cake, but if you do happen to have coconut flour on hand, by all means, use it! It’ll take out the grinding step, and add a little thickness to your batter.
- This is a great recipe to use your homemade almond meal that’s left over from the delicious Homemade Creamy Caramel Almond Milk… this is what I used for my cake, and I’m sure it’s tastier than the store bought stuff – but either will be fine.
- I use medjool dates for a sugar substitute in my recipes, as they are far sweeter than your average date, and larger in size. They’re even more moist too. If you can’t get a hold of any of these for this recipe, you will probably need to use double the quantity of regular dates to equal 100 grams.
While you make the frosting, let the cakes cool completely on wire rack. Then cover with saran wrap until you are ready to add the frosting (since the frosting does take about an hour to chill in the fridge once you’ve mixed it).
Now for the incredible frosting…
Peanut Butter and Honey Frosting:
Dietary Info: GF/DF/SF/V and Vegan! (*see notes at end of post for dietary codes)
Makes plenty of frosting for a three layer 5″ cake, or a double layer 7-8″ cake.
- ¾ c. (12 Tbs.) coconut oil
- ¾ c. (12 Tbs.) smooth peanut natural butter *see notes
- 1/3 c. (5.5 Tbs.) raw honey
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. Sea salt
Reserve to sprinkle on top:
- 30g homemade “candied” peanuts, crushed to small chunks in food processor
- 30g homemade “candied” peanuts, whole (to sprinkle on top)
- Beat coconut oil and peanut butter on high speed until creamy and smooth. Add honey, vanilla extract and salt and beat on medium speed for about 45 seconds.
- Scrape down sides of bowl to make sure all the mixture gets well combined, and continue to beat on high until frosting is thick and fluffy.
- Place frosting in fridge for about an hour, (or slightly longer depending on how cold your fridge is). You want the frosting to resemble a thick creamy peanut butter, and you can test this by stirring a butter knife into the frosting. Once it’s reached desired thickness, you are ready to frost your cakes!
How to frost your cake:
If you already know how to frost a cake, you can skip this part and go for it! I thought it may be good to include these steps just in case. This is the instructions for the 3 layered cake, pictured.
- Make sure you’ve sliced the ‘muffin-tops’ off the top of each of your cakes, so the surface is nice and flat.
- Choose your cake plate, or if you are using a cake stand, this is where you will place your first layer.
- Take your thickened frosting from the fridge, and using a blunt butter knife, spread frosting in a nice thick layer all over the top surface of the first cake layer.
- Carefully place the second layer of cake on top of your first frosted layer, and once again, apply a nice thick layer of frosting to top.
- Repeat instructions above for the final layer, and once you’ve covered the top in a nice (thicker) layer of frosting, you can now add frosting to all sides, making sure that its a nice and even layer around the whole cake.
- Now you can sprinkle your “candied” peanut chunks on top, and flick around sides of cake too (this step is a little messy, as you don’t want to ‘pat’ the sprinkles on. Instead you have to do a ‘side-throw’ maneuver – the sprinkles should stick to the frosting easily).
- Top the cake off with a sprinkle of your whole candied peanuts on top. Gently press them into the frosting so they don’t try to roll off, then you can sprinkle a few more on the plate just because it looks pretty.
- Return the frosted cake to the fridge immediately (otherwise your frosting will start to soften), and refrigerate until ready to serve. The frosting should be completely hardened after an hour, which means it will then be very easy to slice and ready to serve!I should warn you… this is probably going to be the most delicious cake you’ve ever tried.
Special Dietary Needs:
Gluten Free/Grain Free = GF
Dairy Free = DF
Sugar Free = SF
Paleo Approved = PA
Vegetarian = V
Low Carb = LC
The above codes for specific dietary requirements will be found under each recipe title