the other day i was reading an article about the history of agriculture and food in america. i had one of those "how come i never thought about this, it's so frickin' obvious" moments. the author basically broke down the last 100 years of american eating in about 3 short paragraphs. early 1900s: hardly any grocery stores (only local "mom & pop" general stores) or restaurants and no fast-food. mid-1900s: advertisers were increasingly abundant, encouraging people to buy store-bought items, ready-mix baked goods and dinners, instant coffee, and those boxed, microwavable TV dinners. in the 80s and 90s there was a focus on workout videos (hello Jane Fonda, scrunchie socks and sweatbands!), Jenny Craig, protein bars and diet shakes. as the author so vividly pointed out: more convenience = less wholesome food and the more we relied on convenience and giving other people responsibility to manage food for us, the less knowledge and concern we had over our own nutrition. i guess this struck me because as i've gotten older i have seen and felt the direct correlation between the food i put in my mouth and feeling good - making conscious decisions and taking responsibility for what will give my body energy, provide nutrients and put me in a good mood.
i know, chocolate cake after i went on a rant about nutrition? hey, part of this whole nutrition thing is balance, and there's no balance in life if chocolate isn't involved, am i right? me and chocolate cake have long history; on every single one of my birthdays my mom would make a chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting with chocolate m&m's! but then there was the baker's cafe - a small restaurant known as somewhat of a hippie establishment because they had items on the menu that included: sprouts, whole wheat bread, pita bread, hummus, and hemp seeds - so hippie you guys ;) in any event, their takeout/bakery counter had all sorts of cakes and cookies, but me and my dad's favorite was the baker's chocolate cake. it was a deep, dark, lusciously moist bundt cake with a super thick chocolate ganache and we would get a piece each time we went. so you can imagine my great joy when i popped this lovely cake out of her pan and cut her open to find that she was just as dark and luscious as the baker's cake - only free of gluten and dairy! so here's to chocolate cake and making conscious decisions about the food that we eat.
and while we're on the topic of cake...
anya's Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats is a.) super clever. and b.) gorgeous! definitely putting it on the to-make list for next year
i will never be able to get enough of nuts on cake, especially when there are hazelnuts and chocolate involved - laura wins the cake game with this one!
julia's photography is super pretty but this gluten free coconut cake, totally takes the cake! (harhar)
then there were cake truffles by the always inventive molly!
lastly, i never knew how intricate you could get with decorating mini cakes. here, sarah comes through with some serious jedi cake decoration knowledge
chocolate olive oil bundt w/ salted maple almonds (gluten + dairy free)
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almond flour
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder) + more for coating pan
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 3 free-range eggs
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup hot water
- coconut oil for greasing
- 2 ounces dairy free chocolate
- 1.5 ounces full-fat coconut milk
- tiny pinch of salt
salted maple almonds - recipe here
- 1/4 cup, roughly chopped
- preheat oven to 350° and grease an 8 or 9-inch bundt pan with coconut oil, place a couple teaspoons of cacao powder in the pan. gently shake the pan to disperse the powder evenly; tip and bump to clear excess powder, set aside
- in a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients with a whisk; set aside - break up any clumps with your fingers
- in another large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until thoroughly combined - about 1 minute. add the vanilla and oil; add the hot water while whisking
- add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined. carefully pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan; transfer to oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating halfway through and until a baking tester comes out clean
- transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. invert onto a serving platter or large plate
make the ganache
- in a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until boiling, remove from heat and add the chocolate; let it rest for about 5 minutes, add the salt and stir to combine
- drizzle chocolate evenly over the top of the cake, then top with salted maple almonds
- best eaten the day of, but you can cover the cake with parchment and store at room temperature for about 3 days