Happy December Peeps! Can you believe it’s already here? I can’t.. Still so much I want to do in the next three weeks before the holidays. Thankfully the gifts are bought and wrapped, the tree is up, the stocking have been knit and hung by the fire with care… but there are still cards to write, menus to plan, and cookies to bake. Oh the cookies, so many cookies… but more to come on that in the next few days. In the meantime, let’s talk cake. Specifically this cake! This luscious, decadent Salted-Almond Chocolate Cake.
Salted-Almond Chocolate Cake.
Fair warning, December is going to be all about the desserts. One, because I live for holiday desserts. Mmmmm, sugar… But two, because when receiving vegans for the Holidays, we can do better than fruit for dessert. So bring on the cookies and cakes, and all month long I’ll provide you with plenty of easy, vegan recipes, with accessible ingredients to help you through the holiday season. As for your fruit, you can keep it for your morning smoothies, deal?
So let’s talk cake, more importantly chocolate cake. Seriously, this could be one of the most important conversations you have this week. Gluten-free cake can be somewhat of a hit and miss when it comes to baking. They’re either dry and crumbly, or overly heavy. But not this one.
Xanthan gums plays a role in that. I tried to avoid xanthan gum for the longest time, and once I started using it, I wondered why I had spent so many headache inducing months without it. To be clear, xanthan gum doesn’t need to be used everywhere. I still have lots of muffins and cookie recipes that have absolutely no need for it, but here it really does provide some structure while keeping the cake light. And at about $6 a box, it’s a worthy investment as you’ll have it for years to come. Which also means lots more chocolate cake, you can’t argue with that. You can also purchase individual packets (similar to yeast packets) at some grocery stores for the modest price of $0.99. That’s actually how I got started with my xanthan gum trials.
Now, let’s talk frosting for a second. Mostly because chocolate cake without frosting, is really just bread, and sad… Remember the 2-ingredient frosting I shared with you earlier this year? I made it better! Leaps and bounds better. Imagine fluffy, creamy, chocolate caramel flavored buttercream. And I only added 2 ingredients, score! You’re definitely going to want to make this one and add it to your holiday table. The caramel is optional, so I leave that in your hands. But in all honesty, when is caramel not a good idea? You can use the recipe recommended below, or store bought caramel would work too.
- 1 ¼ cups gluten-free flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
- ¼ potato starch
- 2 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ cup melted coconut oil, or canola oil
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground flax seeds
- ½ cup sweet potato puree, or pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 ounces dark chocolate, melted
- 1 ½ cups sweet potato puree
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) vegan butter, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ½ cup toasted almonds, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon pink himalayan salt, or fleur de sel
- ¼ - ⅓ cup caramel sauce (optional) *See Notes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease and line two 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a measuring cup whisk together the almond milk and ground flax seeds, and set aside to thicken.
- In a large bowl whisk together the gluten-free flour, sugar, cocoa powder, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum.
- Mix the sweet potato puree into the almond milk mixture, along with the extracts and salt.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. About 25-30 minutes. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pan prior to unmolding.
- Beat together the sweet potato puree and melted chocolate with an electric hand mixer.
- Making sure the chocolate mixture is no longer warm, beat in the confectioners’ sugar, softened butter, and extract. If the frosting is too soft, chill in the fridge prior to frosting the cake.
- Place the first layer of cake on a cake stand or revolving turntable. Trim the rounded top if necessary.
- Top with ⅓ of the frosting and spread to the outer edges of the cake. Top with half of the chopped almonds, and drizzle with caramel if using.
- Top with the remaining cake layer.
- Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. You may have some frosting left over.
- Scatter the top with the remaining almonds, drizzle with caramel, and sprinkle lightly with salt.
- If not serving immediately, the cake can be stored in the fridge. Remove 30 minutes before serving and allow to come to room temperature. Serve with leftover caramel.