I can’t believe that my baby boy, Connor, will be 1 in just a few weeks! It seems like only yesterday that Hunter turned one and really it was… he will be 3 in May! WOW! Having small children is more challenging and stressful than any job I have ever had, but there are so many moments that make it so worth it! My plans to work ALWAYS get disrupted by a crying baby, or one pulling on my pants leg, and my house is ALWAYS buried in toys, even if 10 minutes ago they were all picked up. But, I wouldn’t change a thing…well, except for having family and friends nearby…that would be so awesome! It’s wonderful watching them grow, and I am grateful and thankful that I have been entrusted with their precious little lives. It’s still amazing to think that I am there mama!
With Connor’s birthday approaching, I have another grain-free birthday party to plan! I created the Best Grain-Free and Sugar-Free Birthday Cake for Hunter’s first birthday almost 2 years ago and it has been a big hit. If you like vanilla cake, give it a try for your next celebration. This year, I have been working on more nut-free options so I thought I would do a nut-free chocolate cake and I am SO glad I did!! I can honestly say this is my FAVORITE chocolate cake recipe. Period. Nut-free or not! I am still amazed that anything can taste this good being gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free & low-carb. Honestly, 2 years ago I would have thought you were crazy if you told me something can taste good that was void of all of those things, but now I take pride in this recipe because I know EVERYONE will love it!
That’s the goal of each and every one of my recipes. Not only that they follow certain dietary guidelines like being grain-free, low-carb, and sometimes dairy and nut-free, but that the recipes taste DELICIOUS!! I don’t really consider myself a food blogger…more like a culinary engineer! This means lots of time in the kitchen, lots of $$$ spend on ingredients, and lots of tasting foods (and some times dumping the failed recipe or giving to our dog for dinner! ) I won’t settle for “it tastes ok.” I want “WOW, this is GRAIN-FREE?!?!?” That’s the reaction I am going for with EVERY, SINGLE, Recipe! All of my recipes are original. These creations all start in my kitchen and that’s how I like it! I hope you enjoy this recipe, just as you have enjoyed the other 400 recipes found here on my blog and in my two cookbooks, Satisfying Eats and Comforting Eats!
The great thing about grain-free baking is that I find it to be really easy! If making bread, there is no machine needed, no yeast to bloom, no dough to proof, etc. All you need is a muffin top pan and my easy bun recipe to make yummy bread, perfect for sandwiches. You can’t get any easier than that!
For this recipe, and most recipes containing large amounts of coconut flour, there is a little technique involved. Because coconut flour is so fibrous, it needs to be treated a little differently than other grain-free flours (such as almond flour). I have found that once the wet ingredients have been added to coconut flour and the batter is mixed, more liquid and more mixing needs to occur to insure that the coconut flour is fully hydrated so you don’t end up with a dry product. Pretty simple, but pretty important in this recipe!
The other steps in the recipe are pretty straight forward.
Sweeteners of choice
As most of you know, I have been using KAL Stevia in my recipes for the past 2 years. However, in recent months, the company that produces KAL Stevia has changed their method of manufacturing the stevia powder, and the bottle of once PURE stevia now contains maltodextrin (except in their organic variety). This is so sad! Why fix something if it is not broken?? The reason they give for adding the maltodextrin is so that the stevia powder won’t stick to their equipment. Unfortunately, maltodextrin is a corn-derived ingredient, and like most non-organic corn products, contains GMOs and should be avoided.
So my plans are to continue to use the remaining PURE Kal Stevia that I have, and to experiment and find other brands that taste good and hold true to having NO other added ingredients.
I decided to use this cake recipe as part of my stevia testing. For this Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe, I tried 4 different stevia varieties:
- Original KAL Stevia (that doesn’t contain any fillers and also can’t be purchased anymore.)
- Organic KAL Stevia (no fillers)
- The New formula of KAL (contains maltodextrin)
- Organic Sweet Leaf powdered Stevia (no fillers)
- Organic Trader Joe’s Stevia
- Stevia Select Powdered Stevia (NEW recommended brand)
I used the same amounts of all of the KAL brands and I used double the amount of Sweet Leaf Organic Stevia as the recipe called for of KAL Stevia (I have figured this out from a couple of other recipes I have tried). The results for this chocolate cake: I couldn’t really tell the difference between the Organic KAL Stevia vs. the other 2 “formulas.” I also liked the Organic Sweet Leaf Brand in this chocolate cake.
With this recipe, as with any recipe, always add a little less sweetener than the recipe calls for, especially when using stevia. Everyone’s palate is SO different and you don’t want to add too much stevia and risk a bitter aftertaste. This is also the reason I choose to add miniscule amounts of organic coconut sugar or raw honey to recipes. Just one tablespoon of either of these natural sweeteners helps achieve that little bit of extra sweetness without risking bitterness from extra stevia. Again, such a small amount is trivial and can always be omitted, but I have chosen to add these small amounts to make the recipes have the right amount of sweetness (for my taste) and adding such small amounts still keeps my recipes low-carb.
If you don’t want to use stevia, please feel free to use whatever sweetener you choose. There is no real conversion chart and I don’t know how much of every sweetener it will take to sweeten my recipes. What has ALWAYS worked is just tasting the batter, and adding as much sweetener as you need to get the sweetness YOU desire. Again, no formula, but this method works.
4/11/14 Update: I just made this using Organic Trader Joe’s Stevia and it was great! Just like with the Organic Sweet Leaf, you need to use twice as much of the Organic Trader Joe’s Stevia as called for of KAL Stevia in a recipe.
To summarize: Buy Stevia Select Powdered Stevia or Organic KAL Stevia that contains NO fillers or purchase Organic Sweet Leaf Stevia. If using Stevia Select Powdered Stevia or Organic Sweet Leaf Stevia, use twice as much of it as the recipe calls for of KAL Stevia to achieve the same sweetness. I am currently only using Stevia Select Powdered Stevia. I have been very happy with the results.
There is a little difference in taste between the “old” and “new” KAL Stevia. If using Organic KAL Stevia or Organic Sweet Leaf Stevia, use a little less than the recipe calls for and then taste. Then you can decide if you want to use more stevia or use an additional sweetener of choice to achieve your desired sweetness.
Please tell me in the comments below what sweeteners you use and how they work out in my recipes!
Besides being DELICIOUS, it’s really easy and even more versatile! I have made it at least 6 times and have had about 10 people try it and everyone LOVED the cake! A few people stating it was their favorite chocolate cake…this made me smile!!
You can follow the recipe to a “T”, or you can use these variations:
For Dairy-Free: Use canned coconut milk as stated in the recipe. I prefer using canned coconut milk because it is much richer than using homemade (which I mainly use for making shakes).
Non Dairy-Free: The cake recipe as stated is dairy-free but you can also use sour cream or heavy cream in place of the coconut milk. My favorite (out of the 6 times that I made the cake) is when I used half sour cream and half coconut milk.
Nuts: If you can have nuts, consider sprinkling them on top of the cake before baking.
Donuts, mini cupcakes, loafs: Use whatever pan you would like to achieve whatever shape you want.
Sweetener: As stated above, use whatever sweetener you would like, and enough to suit your taste. For the Creamy Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting, if you decide to use a granular sweetener, be sure to add it to a coffee grinder to make it into a fine powder so that it completely dissolves.
Chocolate: I chose to use a combo of unsweetened chocolate and 70% chocolate chips. This helped achieve a nice chocolate flavor without it being to strong (if I had used all unsweetened chocolate). Feel free to use whatever combo of chocolate you have on hand just know it will change the carb. count.
Extracts: I only added vanilla extract and used strong brewed coffee for the recipe but you could also use almond extract for a slightly different flavor profile.
Eat & Be Merry!
World's Best Chocolate Birthday Cake:
- 1 cup coconut flour (I recommend Tropical Traditions or Bob's Red Mill)
- 3/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. Stevia Select Powdered Stevia or sweetener of choice (to taste)*
- 2 tbsp. organic coconut sugar (optional)
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 8 large pastured eggs
- 1/2 cup melted virgin coconut oil (or unsalted butter)
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. homemade vanilla extract
- 1 cup canned coconut milk (I actually used 1/2 cup pure sour cream and 1/2 cup coconut milk)
- 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cold
- 1/2 cup extra liquid (coconut milk, sour cream or heavy cream... I used coconut milk)
- 2 tbsp. dairy-free dark chocolate chips or 80% chocolate bar chopped (optional)
- *See "Sweetener of Choice" Section Above for more explaination
Creamy Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 oz. dairy-free dark chocolate chocolate chips or chocolate bar, chopped (or you can use THIS kind)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 tbsp. homemade vanilla extract (or THIS kind)
- Scant 1/2 tsp. Stevia Select Powdered Stevia or sweetener of choice (to taste)
- Optional flavorings: 1 tsp. almond extract
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend dry ingredients in a large bowl with whisk. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT the 1/2 cup of extra liquid and chocolate chips. Blend well with whisk or hand mixer. Taste for sweetness and adjust if needed. Allow to sit for 3 minutes and then add the last of the liquid and blend the batter again. Taste for sweetness once more before baking.
For 2 layer, 8" cake: Oil the sides and bottoms of two 8" pans with coconut oil or butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Divide the batter between the 2 pans (or just measure out 10 large ice cream scoops or 2-1/2 cups of batter per pan). Using an angled spatula, spread the batter to evenly cover the pan. Optional: Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of the cake before baking. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For 20 cupcakes: Using a 1/4 cup scoop, divide batter into cupcake liners already placed in muffin pan. Optional: Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of the cake before baking. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Carefully remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Prepare Creamy Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting while cakes are cooling.
For the Frosting:
Prepare double boiler (or place a large glass bowl over a pot of simmering water like THIS). Cut unsweetened chocolate into smaller pieces. Add all of the chocolate (unsweetened and chips) to double boiler and allow to melt, stirring frequently. Once chocolate is almost melted, carefully remove top of double boiler (containing chocolate) and continue to stir until all of the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool slightly while preparing other ingredients.
In large bowl, blend softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add cooled chocolate to the butter-cream cheese mixture (chocolate shouldn't be hot, only lukewarm) and blend well. Add stevia and extracts and blend well. Taste for sweetness and adjust if needed. Frost cooled cakes or cupcakes.
Serve frosted cake immediately, or it can be kept at room temperature for a few hours. After a few hours, the cake should be refrigerated. If refrigerated, be sure to let the cupcakes and frosting come to room temperature before serving (the icing hardens when cold). You can also microwave the cupcakes (even thought I don't like using a microwave) about 10-15 seconds each to warm up the cake and frosting otherwise the frosting will harden up.
Nutrition is based on recipe as decribed (including optional ingredients):
250 Calories, 23 grams of Fat, 8 total carbs, 2 gram Fiber, 6 NET Carbs, 5 grams Protein