Since we’ve been making a point of keeping things festive around here for the past month or so, we thought it was time that we do a proper cake recipe. By proper I mean layered, frosted, stunning and decadent. Then again, this cake is also vegan, gluten-free and the chocolate layers contain no added sugar, which are all elements not very commonly seen in those ‘proper’ cakes, but that’s just the way we do things around here ;)
By now it’s no secret that sweet root vegetables are not to be underestimated when it comes to vegan baking. They are so good at contributing that right texture, moisture and body to baked goods, together with a neutral base for any flavor. Beets, the root vegetable I use in this cake, are all that and happen to be nature’s very best food coloring. The rich and moist chocolate layers of this cake are made of a mixture of gluten-free flours, dates and beet, and get their depth of flavor from cocoa, chicory coffee and a splash of balsamic vinegar. If you are wondering what the coffee and balsamic are doing in this recipe – they both work well at emphasizing the chocolate flavor and taking it up on the decadence scale. The beet-colored frosting is based on home-‘condensed’ coconut milk and is creamy but very light, and the same can be said for the chocolate ganache that glazes over the cake.
Although this is a layered cake that requires time, attention and ritual, I would say that technique-wise, this cake is on the simpler side when it comes to traditional layer cakes. All the elements come together fairly quickly, and I find the assembly and frosting to be the most challenging part, as always.
We hope this beauty makes it on your holiday table or birthday table, or rainy day baking table. In any case, let us know how it goes :)
- 2 13.5 oz cans full fat unsweetened coconut milk
- ⅔ cup raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for oiling parchment paper
- 1½ cups cashews - soaked for 2-4 hours, divided
- ¼ small beet root
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅔ cup almond milk or purified water
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch sea salt
- 1 cup Medjool dates - pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- 1 cup chicory coffee (1 teaspoon ground roasted chicory root or coffee substitute such as Dandy Blend per 1¼ cups boiling water, brewed for 5 minutes and strained) or strong regular coffee
- ⅓ cup apple sauce
- 2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil - melted
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 medium beet root - peeled and shredded
- ½ cup condensed coconut milk (reserved when making frosting)
- ¼ cup cashews (reserved when making frosting)
- 5-7 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons almond milk or water
- Combine coconut milk and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to establish a strong simmer and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes, until the mixture thickens and resembles condensed milk. Stir in coconut oil until well incorporated.
- Reserve ½ cup of the condensed coconut milk and ¼ cup soaked cashews for the ganache, below.
- Combine the rest of the condensed coconut milk, remaining soaked and rinsed cashews, beet, lemon juice and almond milk/water in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Scoop into an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator until firm, preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
- Prepare two 6-inch spring forms or cake pans by lining them with lightly oiled parchment paper (if you only have one spring form/pan, you can bake one chocolate cake layer at a time).
- Combine all flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
- Reserve ½ cup of the date soaking liquid and combine it with the dates, chicory coffee/regular coffee and apple sauce in an upright blender, blend until smooth. Add coconut oil and balsamic vinegar and pulse to incorporate.
- Pour the blended liquid into the bowl with the dried ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in the shredded beet.
- Divide batter in half between prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or bake one at a time if you only have one pan). Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Combine reserved ½ cup condensed coconut milk and ¼ cup reserved soaked and rinsed cashews with cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons almond milk/water in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Invert one of the chocolate cake layers onto a large plate or cake stand. Frost with about ⅓ of well-chilled, firm frosting. Place the other cake layer on top and frost the entire cake with the rest of the frosting.
- Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to firm up the frosting once again.
- Take the cake out of the refrigerator and pour the chocolate ganache over the cake, taking care to create photogenic drips, if you wish. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. Keep the leftovers refrigerated.