I think it’s been 10 years since I’ve baked a cake. Seriously. I don’t even own a cake pan. I didn’t realize it until I had already assembled the batter for this cake and went fishing for a pan to bake it in. Two deep-dish pie pans later, my double layer chocolate cake was ready to stand proud and tall.
I don’t really bake desserts all that often any more. When I was younger, that was all I made. Brownies, cookies, muffins, tapioca pudding… you could catch me in the kitchen prepping something sweet on a weekly basis. Time became harder to come by as I grew up, got a job, a house, a car, and was maintaining them instead of focusing on my next treat. I started leaning on prepared foods and lost my desire to experiment in the kitchen.
Some dietary changes came along and with all of my favorite boxed foods eliminated, I found myself between a rock and a hard place: Make the time to plan and cook or live off of raw veggies and nuts for the rest of my life. Naturally, I went the route of the raw veggies and nuts and found myself feeling lackluster and bored. Now I’m faced with the problem of wanting to cook all of the time and attempting to marry that desire with work and other ‘real life’ responsibilities. I prioritize meals and rely on chocolate or granola to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Deciding to publish full meals in the form of three discrete blog posts has thrown me for a loop. I’m much further behind on my desserts than the rest of my recipes, mainly because we don’t eat them as quickly. It takes two people at least a week to put down an entire cake! Some recipes are more scalable than others, and it seems like desserts are harder to cut down to two or four servings than main dishes. Hm… I should work on more 2-4 person desserts!
For now though, we’re going to come to terms with the fact that a lot of desserts will take you several days to get through. I think we can all be okay with that, right? So I present this fabulous chocolate cake to get you through your late night cravings for the remainder of the week. It’s flourless and dairy free, lusciously chocolatey, nutty, with a nice play between the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the sweetness of the ganache.
The first go around was THE most hilarious fail I think I’ve ever had while baking. I didn’t have anywhere near enough leavening agents or volume material, so the cakes came out completely flat and dense as a rock. Honestly, the taste was reasonable enough that I broke the cakes up into squares and tossed them in a bowl to snack on throughout the day. My loss is my gain! Wait, that’s not how that goes…
Round two went much, much better, so much better in fact that I deemed it worthy of sharing. The cake turned out moist and light but full of flavor with an excellent crumb. I added a ganache to mellow out the natural bitterness of the dark chocolate, and to bring about a tinge of sweetness as well as that melt-in-your-mouth sensation. I’m sure if you wanted to you could forego the ganache and throw ice cream on the cake instead, but the ganache really makes it both visually and texturally. I used nut butter in place of olive oil, but I imagine you could be somewhat creative here.
Be forewarned: My desserts are not Ben & Jerry’s levels of sweet. I’ve trained my palate to decipher the various elements in a dessert. I do not enjoy sugar overpowering the other flavors. I would suggest substituting the applesauce for sugar at the very least if you prefer a smoother, sweeter dessert. Feel free to play around a bit and learn what you enjoy!
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake
- 6 oz dark baking chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup nut or seed butter of choice
- 1 single serve yogurt (5-6oz)
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 T finely ground coffee (I used decaf)
- 1 cup hazelnuts, ground into a flour
- 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
- 2 T hazelnuts, crushed, as garnish
- 2 oz dark baking chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 T nut or seed butter of choice
- 3 T water, to thin
- Prehead oven to 350F.
- Thoroughly grease two 8″ cake pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper cut to size. Grease the parchment.
- Combine chocolate and 1/4 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 10sec intervals, stirring in between, until melted.
- Combine yogurt, eggs, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Whisk until frothy.
- Add vinegar, baking soda, coffee grounds, hazelnut flour, applesauce, and chocolate. Stir until combined.
- Divide batter equally between cake pans. You can use a scale to be exact, but I simply eye-balled.
- Bake cakes for approximately 15min, or until firm to the touch and a tooth-pick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
- To make the ganache, once again combine baking chocolate, bittersweet chips, and 3 T water in a microwave safe bowl or ramekin. Heat in 10 sec intervals, stirring in between, until melted.
- Add vanilla and nut or seed butter and combine. Add more water as needed to create a frosting consistency.
- To remove the cakes from the pans, gently slide a knife along the edge to dislodge from the pan. Make sure the cakes are cool enough that they do not burn you. Press your serving plate over the first cake, and quickly invert the pan so that the cake falls onto the plate.
- Spread a layer of ganache over the cake on the serving plate. The bottom of the cake should now be facing up.
- Using a paper towel, perform the same maneuver on the second cake: Place a paper towel over the top of the second plate, press your hand with fingers spread wide over the top of the cake, and quickly invert the pan so that the cake is now in your hand. Gently slide the second cake over the first so that the flat portions of the cakes are parallel.
- Spread another layer of ganache over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts. Serve.