Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Cake Fiasco with Cinnamon "Whipped Cream" and Mexican Chocolate Bark

Let's start with the cake:
So, I'm posting this in the hopes that someone else smarter than myself can help me figure out what I did wrong. I think it was the lack of butter, but I'm not sure. I just really have bad luck with flourless cakes.
My first holiday season going GF, I was asked to bring a dessert to my in-laws for Christmas or Thanksgiving or something. Anyway, I had just gotten back from a trip to Portland where I ate the most amazing flourless chocolate truffle cake. So I was very ambitious, and thought I'd try my hand at that.
Needless to say, it was a disaster, and through my tears, I had to throw together a rather expensive batch of rice crispy treats (made with specialty gluten free rice crisp cereal).
This second attempt was disappointing, but still had a bright side to it (quite a delicious one at that!).
I got the original recipe from Carol over at Simply Gluten Free, and it looked to die for! I mean, I had to restrain myself from licking my computer screen! Here's the link:
I then had to search almost every store in Utah Valley looking for ancho chili powder. I found some whole chilies at the local Hispanic market, and was able to grind them up in my coffee grinder.
The batter for the cake was so good! I should have just eaten that :) The flavors were amazing together! I was literally pacing the kitchen as I tried to watch the cake bake! It was a very slow, nerve-wracking hour.
So, here's the cake when the timer went off:

Only the outside ring was solidified. So, back into the oven for 10 more minutes, then after another assessment, 15 additional minutes. This is the bottom of the cake:
Then, after flipping the cake so it was right side up, and cooling about 5 minutes, this is what happened:
I nearly broke down in tears. But thankfully, I had made this while the cake was baking:
Coconut "Whipped Cream" Topping with Cinnamon
And here's that silver lining I mentioned before - the delectable Mexican Chocolate Bark (original recipe here: ):

I tried, really I did. The topping melted the second it left the bowl...but it still tasted great. And the cake was soupy except for about an inch of outside ring, which was crunchy and hard as a rock.
So, anyway, I'm going to post my recipe for the bark and the topping here, but if anyone has any ideas about the cake, please let me know!!! The only variations I made to the cake recipe were that I used dairy free chocolate chips, and I used olive oil instead of butter (<--that's my guess).

Coconut Whipped Cream Topping
1 c cold coconut milk (don't use the light, I hear it doesn't work well)
I didn't really measure, but I used about 2/3-1 c of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Beat coconut milk with electric whisk for about 5 minutes. But I don't know if this step is really necessary, because after 5 minutes, I didn't notice a difference in the texture/consistency of the milk. Beat in the sugar and cinnamon. I think this probably just needed another half hour in the fridge before serving. It got soupy fast. But it tasted really good. Next time, I will try it without the cinnamon. It just tasted a little weird.

Now for the redemption of this whole project:

Mexican Chocolate Bark
1/2 c shelled pistachios (next time I think I will chop these a bit)
1/3 c shelled pumpkin seeds
1 12-oz bag chocolate chips (enjoy life chips worked wonderfully!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground coffee crystals
3/4 tsp cinnamon plus a few pinches for garnish
3/4 tsp ancho chili powder plus a few pinches for garnish
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I didn't have any of this, so I used regular ol' chili powder ground red pepper)
pinch salt

Prepare a flat baking sheet with foil.
Toast pistachios for 1 minute in a dry skillet preheated to med-high heat. Set aside. In the same skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds for 1 minute. Add to pistachios.
Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.
Add all but a handful of the nuts to the chocolate. Add vanilla, coffee, spices (except garnish pinches), and salt. Stir to combine.
Spread over foil-covered pan, and smooth until even. Sprinkle reserved nuts on top, and press in slightly. I had to press each one individually - trying to use my whole hand just resulted in a chocolate covered hand (which was quite tasty). Sprinkle the pinches of spices over the top of the chocolate. Allow to cool in refrigerator for about half an hour. Break into pieces and dig in!

*One thing - I noticed the heat from the chilies a lot more when the chocolate was still in, when I was licking the bowl. I think I might add more to the recipe next time. Or maybe if I actually had cayenne pepper, I wouldn't need to...
Most of the people at work said they couldn't taste the chili powder. I suppose that's good. But I really wanted it to be identical to the most amazing candy bar I have ever eaten!
Hm, maybe I need to find me some chipotle chilies!
But don't get me wrong! I absolutely LOVED this recipe! I am so excited to make it again. And I plan on making it for all my friends and family for Christmas gifts (with regular ol' chocolate chips of course). So, if you are one of those lucky few, start counting down the days to Christmas goodies on your doorstep! If not, make this recipe! Now!

**And while it's cooling in the fridge, read these wonderful instructions: "How to Eat Chocolate"

Wow, I wrote an awful lot. Sorry about that :P Hope it all makes sense! It's kinda late here. But I was so excited! I couldn't stop!


Simply...Gluten-free said...

Hi Steph,

I am sorry that the cake did not turn out for you. My thought is that the olive oil is the culprit. I think I would have substituted dairy free margarine for the butter instead. Also, what is the alltitude where you live? You probably need to cook longer and then it would be good to refridgerate for about 7 or 8 hours.

I was at the health food store the other day and say a can of whipped soy cream - like the dairy kind you get in an aresol can. I don't know if you can do soy or not but if so that's a good thing to try.

You really are challanging me. I think I am going to work on a dairy free version and let you know what I find out.

I am glad the bark worked for you!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

OK, I see you can't do soy so on the coconut cream I think more chilling is in order. ANd more on the cake. I would try turning down the temp to 325, cooking longer and refridgerating it in the pan over night.
ok, I'll shut up now! :)

Steph said...

No way! You're awesome! What purpose does refrigerating the cake serve? Just curious :) I will try cooking it lower and for longer next time. Yeah, I'm in Utah, pretty high altitude.

Naomi Devlin said...


I feel your pain! Nothing like wasting good chocolate eh?

I also have a recipe you could try called booja booja cake. The recipe I give includes cornflour, but I would just substitute the same quantity of ground almonds for this. Mine also calls for butter and I would substitute coconut butter (oil) - not creamed coconut - or cocoa butter, if you're feeling decadent. You need to use a fat which sets solid when chilled or your cake will always be soupy.

Looks like you cooked yours way too hot too. If you're cooking at altitude, it's always best to cook a little lower - I think liquids react differently too.

All flourless choc cakes need refridgerating to set the chocolate. A little more patience is all that's needed.

You can find my recipe here:

x x x

Christina said...

Try using either coconut oil, palm oil (either of those in a solid version) or lard - yes, lard.

You need a saturated (and solid) fat to hold up that cake, which is why butter is mentioned. It's the same reasoning behind chocolate chips, ie oil doesn't work with those.

Good luck~