If you don’t have a soulmate for Valentine’s Day yet, you’ve just found it! Apologies to my husband, but this decadent and luscious cake is all I need right now to make my heart sing: decadent, creamy, moist, and the perfect combination of spice to chocolate. Its one of those cakes that you keep going back for more of, slicing off a piece every time you pass by the fridge. No? Not you? Guess its just me and my pregger chocolate craving then….
Last week, I debuted this cake at my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday dinner. There isn’t a reaction to my cooking I love more than “Oh my god! This is sooooo good!”. Especially when I get to tell them, with a sly grin on my face, “Thanks! It’s made with all-natural sugar, coconut milk and whole grain, brown rice flour!”. My brother is a self-taught chef but has a very different cooking style than me: lots of butter and sugar, not really paying attention to the nutritional value of things (although his cooking is fabulous!). I knew he would be my toughest critic. However, he bit into this luscious and dreamy cake and was in shock that it was “healthy”! I just loved it!
Our guest of honour was Anna, my brother’s girlfriend, who took some time living in Israel and has traveled throughout the Middle East. We have since had many conversations of the flavours of these countries and how we just adore the food from this part of the world (can you say hummus, falafels, rose water sorbet, zaatar, and grilled halloumi?!) . When I started brainstorming for the birthday cake, I just knew I wanted to pull from these flavours. If I could have squeezed some orange blossom extract or rose water into this cake, I would have, but I think that would have taken away from the main stars: cardamom, chocolate, and blood oranges. In some Middle Eastern countries, it is likely you will find the combination of coffee and cardamom brilliantly combined to make an interesting cocktail of sorts. You can most definitely replace the tea in this recipe with coffee or decaf coffee for a richer flavour and it would turn out fabulous, however, I like the health benefits of the cardamom-anise-vanilla tea used here. You can also use this recipe and bake the mixture in muffin tins to make individual cupcakes if that works better for you.
Chocolate has been touted as an aphrodisiac and is a Valentines Day staple. How true this is, I’m not sure. I think you would probably have to eat a whole lot of this stuff to produce a chemical change in the body and brain. Chocolate does contain tryptophan that is related to serotonin release in the brain (our “happy” chemical” that is involved in those loving feelings), but again, how much is actually needed to claim it as an aphrodisiac?! Either way, cacao has many health benefits for you and your “lova” which you can find here and it is just plain yummy! By using cocoa powder (which is made from roasting raw cacao) instead of processed, sugar-laden chocolate in this recipe, we retain many nutrients and health benefits we would not normally see with store-bought chocolate. Also, research has shown, that by combining cacao with dairy, it inhibits the absorption of antioxidants! Crazy, right?! Good thing we used coconut milk in this cake!
A LITTLE HIATUS FOR “LOVE AND GARNISH”
On another “love” note, I have to sadly say I will be taking some time off from the blog to focus on self-love and getting ready for baby. I have a few weeks to go in this pregnancy, yet so much to do and am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment (think spring cleaning x 100 plus a nursery that isn’t finished!). If I can squeeze in another blog post, I most definitely will, but this could very well be the last time you hear from me for a while (enter sad face!). Valentines Day is a time to show others we care, but lets never forget to care for ourselves!
To keep up with my food adventures, baby updates, and culinary experiments, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!
Until next time, I leave you with one of the most tasty desserts I’ve ever made! Enjoy!!
- 1 vanilla black tea bag
- 1 star anise (optional)
- 5 cardamom pods (optional), crushed
- 1 ½ cups brown rice flour
- ½ cup almond meal/flour
- 1 ½ cups coconut sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla powder
- 1 ½ Tablespoons good quality cardamom (or crush your own from green cardamom pods!)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted*
- 3 free-range, organic eggs or 3 Tablespoons ground flax seeds soaked in 9 Tablespoons of water
- 1 blood orange for garnish, optional
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in pure, filtered water
- 1 cup coconut butter, melted*
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted*
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons fresh blood orange juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla powder
- 1 Tablespoon fresh blood orange zest
- *Cashews must be soaked the night before
- Drain the cashews and rinse with pure, filtered water. Add to a high-speed blender along with coconut butter, maple syrup, coconut milk, coconut oil, cacao powder, orange juice, vanilla powder, and orange zest. Blend on high until combined thoroughly, occasionally scraping down the sides. Once it has reached a uniform consistency, transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge to harden. Allow it to set for at least 90 minutes, or even overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Place the crushed cardamom pods into a tea bag or ball. Steep one vanilla black tea bag with one star anise and the 5 crushed cardamom pods in 8 oz of boiling water. Let it steep while you prepare the rest of the cake.
- With a bit of coconut oil, grease two springform pans or two, 8-inch round baking pans. Cut two circles of parchment paper to the diameter of the pan. Cover the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper circle. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the brown rice flour, almond meal/flour, coconut sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, vanilla powder and cardamom. Sift the mixture through a sieve to break up the coconut sugar and almond meal clumps.
- In a second medium-sized bowl, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine, being careful not to over-stir.
- Remove the tea bag, cardamom bag/ball and star anise from the tea and discard. Add the tea to the cake mixture and stir gently to combine. Pour the mixture evenly between the two pans and place in the oven. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the fridge until your ready to "frost" the cake.
- Remove the ganache from the fridge and allow it to sit out until it has softened (approximately 30 minutes); stir vigorously to soften further into a "spreadable" consistency. I like to work with a bit at a time, stirring small amounts as I'm frosting the cake, so it softens nicely. Remove the cakes from the pans and gently peel off the parchment paper. Place one cake on a pedestal or cake plate and spoon half of the ganache onto the top. Spread evenly over the top. Gently place the other cake on top. With a spatula, spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the double layer cake. Use a knife to even out the ganache if needed. Garnish with thinly sliced blood oranges and/or more zest if desired.
- The ganache will be quite hard when you take it out of the fridge. Don't worry! After sitting out for a bit and some vigorous stirring, it softens perfectly for "frosting" the cake!
- *So as not to dirty extra dishes, I place the coconut oil and coconut butter containers in a boiling pot of water until it has softened, then pour out the required amount.