Given my history, not to mention the title of my personal blog, it may come as a slight surprise that when Camille told me about her plans for the wellness makeover, I was absolutely thrilled. While I may have made my mark on the web by slinging over-the-top, decadent creations, the way I satisfy my sweet tooth in “real life” likely falls much closer to yours than you think. I do require something sweet after dinner (old habits die hard) but most days this consists of a little dark chocolate, or seasonal fruit and, on occasion, a gelato splurge. Of course, when I’m recipe testing, I’m also taste testing, but those days are less frequent than you’d expect and typically include a long run on the trail to counter the indulgence.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that in my world, baking and desserts are as much an expression of creativity as they are a food group, and despite outward appearances, I too strive to be healthy and well-balanced across all facets of my life. Which brings me to just one of the many reasons I love being a part of this site — this new challenge. A push to craft desserts that more accurately reflect those that are part of my daily life, but are as delicious as those that are front-and-center in my internet life. Let’s do this!
As I began to research methods for modifying recipes to incorporate more healthful ingredients, I noticed a theme — start with the familiar, substituting only one or two main ingredients and build from there. So I did just that.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it seemed fitting for this month’s lighter recipe be heavy on the chocolate (and hey, antioxidants!). The goal: something you can share with you sweetie (or your gals), without feeling guilty about it later on.
The cake base, slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe, isn’t exactly health food, but it does eliminate many of clean eating’s major foes. Butter is replaced with olive oil bringing healthy fat into the mix, and wheat flour is completely eliminated (swapped with nut flour) making this a perfect treat for anyone with gluten-intolerance. For a romantic vibe, this deeply rich and chocolatey cake is topped with a layer of fluffy, unsweetened whipped coconut cream and homemade rose and raspberry preserves. The preserves are my favorite part of this cake — the lightly floral yet tart punch provides the perfect balance to the intensity of chocolate. I highly recommend that you don’t overlook them if you have the time, but for a simpler execution, this recipe is equally as delicious with simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!
For the cake:
- 6 tablespoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup raw sugar cane (turbinado)
- 2/3 cups good quality olive oil
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cup almond meal or flour
For the raspberry-rose preserves:
- 1/2 cup raw cane sugar (turbinado) or honey
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup dried culinary rose petals
- 1 pint fresh raspberries or 1 1/2 cups frozen
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon rose water (optional, for stronger rose flavor)
For the coconut whipped cream:
- 3 cans full-fat coconut milk
- To prepare the cake: Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides, set aside.
- For a smoother cake, place the turbinado in a food processor and process on high for 1 minute, until a most of the granules have been reduced to a fine powder. Set aside.
- Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl. Whisk in the boiling water, the mix in the vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sugar and olive oil. Beat on high for 3-4 minutes, until thickened and creamy. Add the baking soda and mix to combine.
- Add the cocoa mixture and mix well, then add in the almond flour and combine, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center has a few moist crumbs attached when removed.
- Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack then remove the springform sides and continue to cool to room temperature.
- To make the preserves: Combine the sugar, water, rose petals and raspberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolved, lightly smashing the raspberries as they cook, then bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and a rose water and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the liquid become syrupy and thick.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- To make the coconut whipped cream: Refrigerate the cans of coconut milk at least 6 hours, up to overnight. Once chilled remove from the refrigerator, being cautious not to shake.
- Carefully open, there should be solid cream sitting on the top. Scoop the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Whip the cream on high for about 1 minute, until thick and fluffy. Refrigerate until time to use.
- To assemble: Top the cake with coconut cream and preserves. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios, if desired.