After getting some of your feedback (I’m a good listener, you know) - I am starting a new series of basic recipes to share as if a newborn baby is crawling into the kitchen. Complete basic recipes for the infant. You don’t have to know anything- just where the kitchen is. If that perplexes you, then you should just give up now and find something else you are better at.
A lot of the “basic” recipes that I will share here are really just great recipes that are clean, simple, and super easy. In the same light I will also be adding a feature to all of my recipes on the site where I rate each one based on complexity or length of time.
For the first recipe in this series we are going to make my best chocolate cake. You may be thinking to yourself “What?!?!?! Didn’t she just say BASIC recipes?” I did. That’s right. I’m not starting with “How to make an egg like a pro” or my “Salad dressing 101” entry. I will be saving those basics for later in the game. Today, I will build your confidence in the kitchen with cake.
This chocolate cake is the fastest and easiest cake I have ever made and it is for sure the tastiest. It’s actually a new recipe in my cake rotation and happens to be gluten free. I developed it for Passover when I was looking for Almond flour based cakes. I was so thrilled with the results that it beat out my Devil’s Food Cake recipe and this is now in first place.
For this cake, you don’t even need a mixer if you don’t want to use one. Just 2 good ole’ bowls and a sturdy whisk. I bake this cake in a 9 inch round nonstick pan but you can use anything that is medium size - even a throw away aluminum tin (no judgment).
Because this is all about basics, I would like to guide you through the ingredient list and recommend some brands.
Almond Flour - find a brand that is ground extra fine and looks fluffy and powder like, without the brown skins. I like the Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur’s Flour.
Coco Powder - try to find a good quality unsweetened powder. I generally use Scharffen Berger chocolate for all my baking needs. They are not the cheapest but in my opinion they have the best quality chocolate. If you can’t find this brand then really just use what you have on hand.
Instant Coffee/Brewed Coffee – Many chocolate recipes include coffee as one of the ingredients.The coffee brings out or rounds out the chocolate flavor. Most of the time you don’t even taste it once it’s baked. In this recipe, we have instant coffee and brewed coffee as ingredients. The instant coffee is used dry with a measuring spoon the same way you would measure salt. The brewed coffee can be instant mixed with hot (not my favorite) or real brewed coffee from the auto drip coffee maker, french press or stove top percolator.Even the cold brews you can buy in the store are perfect here.Any brand of instant will do as long as it has caffeine.
Agave - Agave is a syrupy sap derived from the succulent agave plant. It is generally sweeter than honey and about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. It comes in different shades of colors (light, medium, dark) but I have no preference of which shade or brand you use. Buying organic agave is generally not necessary because this plant isn’t one that is usually doused in chemicals. I just buy the cheapest one.
Vanilla Extract - ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS! Pure vanilla extract is the only way to go. Do not buy imitation extract – ever. The best tasting vanilla extract in my opinion is a brand called Nielsen-Massey. But it does have added sugar. If this bothers you, then there are plenty of brands that have no added sugar and taste great - like “Simply Organic”. Kirkland (Costco house brand) is also a great vanilla extract that until now has had sugar on the ingredient list and they just recently changed to a different recipe with no added sugar
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
2 cups almond flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee dry
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
¾ cup agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 convection).
Combine all dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and instant coffee) into a medium bowl and mix together with a fork.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the brewed coffee, agave, eggs and vanilla. Mix all the wet ingredients so that the eggs are completely beaten. (You can do this by hand or with a mixer) Slowly add the flour, a little bit at a time, until all the dry ingredients are completely mixed into the wet ingredients to create the batter.
Take your 9 inch round cake pan (or whatever you are using) and spray with oil cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and put it in place. It should stick to the spray. Using a rubber spatula, pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
When the cake is completely cool, run a knife around the sides a couple of times to loosen it from the pan. Turn the pan over and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake comes lose and falls in your hand. Place on your serving platter and enjoy, or use the glaze below to decorate.
½ cup chopped semisweet baking chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Background on melting chocolate:
The goal of this recipe is to melt your chocolate and coconut oil. We do this by creating a double boiler on the stovetop. The reason we do not put chocolate directly over an open flame is it will burn. Instead, we use a double boiler method. The steam from simmering water in a small pot, heats and melts the chocolate in a bigger bowl that sits atop the small pot. Don’t be intimidated. Creating a double boiler is really easy.
Put two inches of water in your smallest pot and heat it up on a medium flame. Take a medium/large glass or stainless steel bowl and add your chocolate and oil. Place the large bowl on top of the small pot of slightly simmering hot water. The heat of the water will melt your chocolate and oil. Remember - you do not want the hot water from the small pot to touch the bowl that is on top. Sit back and let the steam do all the work. Mix with a rubber spatula until fully melted and combined. Set the bowl aside to cool for 5 minutes and then pour over your cake. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if you desire.