Now, here’s the issue with any ‘ultimate’ chocolate cakes, as I see it. Sure, they have to be rich, as per the definition of the word chocolate. Yet they also have to be the sort of thing you can indulge in without too much backlash from your body. This is why I bake without sugar, refined flour, or typical vegetable oils. But how can you do that without compromising taste — and, in fact, improving it at times? Well, xylitol is a great sugar substitute, and functions like a slow-burning, complex carb in your body (at least in terms of energy purposes), and white whole wheat flour (from King Arthur/Trader Joe’s) is usually indistinguishable from white. As for vegetable fats, rice bran oil is quite stable and difficult to oxidize — even if lightly refined — and pretty much has no taste. So, it’s a healthy alternative both to supermarket oils (which are quite refined) and things like coconut oil (healthy, but too strong a taste). This means that, in a chocolate cake, the worst that will happen to you is a caffeine buzz and a few shortened telomeres. As for all that saturated fat? Stop worrying. Cocoa butter, butter, and the like are life-affirming — to use a cult-like phrase — and anthropologically sound. You just need to make sure they’re well-sourced.
The recipe (adapted from here) calls for 3 sticks of butter. If you go with a single-layer cake (as per this recipe), you can get away with 2 sticks. And 2 sticks ARE probably better, since no one in my household could finish a full-fledged slice without the aforementioned backlash. That said, 3 sticks is canonical, and so, 3 sticks it is.
It also calls for cocoa powder. I guess there’s not THAT much difference from item to item, but Trader Joe’s cocoa powder seems richer and ‘meatier’ than most I’ve tried, besides being quite cheap. It also calls for 2 high-quality chocolate bars, and Trader Joe’s is good for this, too. Make sure it’s at least 70%, with a minimum of sugar. White baking chocolate can be anything, but, again, the less sweet the better. Your only sugar in this recipe will come from the chocolate bars. Choose them appropriately, and this will mean nothing.
Recipe: The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups whole wheat white flour, preferably King Arthur/Trader Joe’s
- 1 1/2 cups xylitol, powdered
- 2 dark chocolate bars, crushed (7-8 oz total)
- 4-6 oz white baking chocolate, crushed
- 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 oz crushed pecans
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1-2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 c. rice bran oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup half & half
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Recipe: Chocolate Frosting
- 3 sticks of butter, left in dish overnight
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 – 1 cup xylitol (taste and see)
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- Combine flour, 1 1/2 cups xylitol, 1 1/2 crushed dark chocolate bars, 3/4 c. cocoa powder, baking soda & powder, 2 tsp espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Slowly add half & half, vanilla, eggs, and rice bran oil until very well combined.
- Add boiling water, mixing very quickly.
- Pour into a 9-inch springform pan, and stick into a 350 F oven for about an hour.
- To make frosting, slowly add cocoa powder, xylitol, and half & half until all are well-blended.
- Add espresso powder and vanilla extract to the result.
- Once cake is ready and has a chance to cool, spread frosting on all sides.
- Cover cake in the crushed pecans, white chocolate, and remaining dark chocolate.
- Cut into 8 slices if you’re brave, 16 if meek.