Thanksgiving is just days away, and if you are like me, you are pinching yourself in disbelief. So much has been going on in my personal life as well as the world around me, that it has masked the fact that we are directly in the middle of the holiday season. Yikes!
With that said, it's time to start narrowing down the Thanksgiving menu. Every part of this festive feast is important. From the turkey, to the sides, to yes, one of my favorites...dessert! Traditionally, a variety of pies make up this category. The obvious choice is pumpkin pie. Then there is your pecan pie and apple pie. If you are considering a fruit based pie, check out my new recipe for Apple Pomegranate Crisp. It's so delicious and easier to make than a pie as you aren't fussing with a crust.
So that leaves us with the question of, "What about chocolate?" Don't worry, I have you covered there. Serve a flourless chocolate cake! This may seem daunting, but it's actually pretty easy. With a few essential baking items and some cooking tips, you have got this mastered!
Flourless chocolate cake has a rich flavor with a balance of dense and light, moist textures. This fudgy cake is fabulous for entertaining. It's hard to resist this incredible chocolate sensation!
Have you ever had a flourless cake that was a but on the dry side? Yeah, that's no good, is it? The key to the perfect texture when it comes to flourless cakes is baking them using a water bath. While this may seem challenging, once you understand the concept and how to prep your springform pan, it's really not difficult. Baking the cake in a water bath will provide moisture to the oven and therefore prevent the cake from drying out and cracking. Water baths also create a slower heat source to the cake which allows it to bake evenly. This is important when baking delicate desserts such as flourless cakes, cheesecakes, and custards.
There are two minor obstacles when it comes to a water bath. You need to make sure you have a large pan big enough to hold your springform pan. If you have a large roasting pan, that will work. Basically, what you will be doing is placing your springform pan into a larger baking pan. Then you will fill the large baking pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of your springform pan. The second obstacle comes when trying to keep the water from seeping into your springform pan. The best way to prevent this is to wrap your springform pan in foil from the bottom all the way up the sides. From my experience, a little water tends to leak in, but it's not enough to alter the results of the cake. So if you notice a little moisture, don't fret.
Here is a photo of what my prepped pan looks like. You can see I line the springform with parchment which makes for an easy removal process. The larger circular pan is the one that will hold the water.
Another key to this recipe is melting the ingredients in a double broiler. This provides a gentle, even melting of the chocolate and the rest of the ingredients. If you don't have a double broiler, you can create one at home using a pot and a large glass mixing bowl. What you will do is fill your pot about 1/4 full of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and fit the bowl into the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not reach the water (at least 2″ to 3″ space between the bowl and water is optimal). The intention is to heat the bowl with steam and not the water. Add the chocolate and coconut oil into the glass bowl and melt them. Then follow the rest of the recipe instructions. Be very careful when lifting the glass bowl out of the pot. Not only is it hot, but you don't want the bowl to tip over.
This cake shows off it's best assets when you enjoy it the day you bake it. The biggest reason why is if you place it in the refrigerator, the cake will solidify and lose it's moist texture. You can re-heat it though to gain some of that texture back. My suggestion is to bake it in the morning of that day you want to serve it. That will give you plenty of time to bake it and allow it to cool. Prep your pan the night before. Trust me, it will save you some time.
The pumpkin and spices bring a subtle tone to this cake. The chocolate is still the star of the show! You are going to fall in love with this delectable dessert. No flour, no refined sugar, gluten free, paleo friendly, dairy free, a definite crowd favorite.
Roasted pecans & coconut:
2 cups pecan pieces
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
pinch of sea salt
1 Tbs maple syrup (adjust to your preference)
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1. Prepare a springform pan by either lining it with parchment paper on the bottom and the sides, or grease it with coconut oil. I prefer using parchment as it makes for easy removal as well as serving as a layer of protection from water leaking in. Next, you have two options for protecting your springform pan further from water leakage. You can either surround your pan with foil, making sure it is completely surrounded on the sides and base. Just know, a bit of water will still leak in but not enough to affect your cake from my experience. Another option you have is to use a large round cake pan and place your springform pan inside the large round cake pan that is only slightly bigger than your springform pan. Then put both of those into your roasting pan. That ensures so water will leak in as you bake using a water bath. Once you have prepared your springform pan, you will place it in a large roasting pan and preheat your oven to 300°F.
2. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and coconut oil slowly, stirring occasionally. Once it's melted, remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the maple syrup, pumpkin, and spices.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer on high speed speed until the eggs are nice and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Gently fold the egg mixture into your chocolate mixture until incorporated evenly but not over mixed.
4. Pour the cake mixture into your prepared springform pan. Then place the springform pan into your large roasting pan or into your large cake pan if you are opting not to use foil and then into your roasting pan.
5. Fill the large roasting pan with hot water until it reaches half way up the sides of your cake pan. Place the roasting pan in the middle rack of your oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake has set.
6. Once the cake has set, remove it from the oven and out of the water bath. Let it cool for 1 hour. Then remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Gently lift the cake away from the base of the springform pan. This is where using parchment paper to line the pan really helps as you can just grab the sides of the parchment paper for easy removal. Place the cake on a serving plate. Top with roasted pecan and coconut mixture or coconut whipped cream. Slice and serve. Leftovers may be kept in the refrigerator. The cake will solidify in the refrigerator due to the coconut oil. You can reheat it before eating if you prefer a warm, softer cake. Or you can eat it straight from the refrigerator. It will taste more like a delectable piece of chocolate candy.
To make the roasted pecans and coconut:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, except for the shredded coconut, and toss well.
3. Spread the pecan and spice mixture evenly on your baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
4. Add the shredded coconut after 15 minutes have passed. Toss evenly and continue to roast the mixture for 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
5. When nice and toasted, remove from oven and allow to cool. Then sprinkle the mixture on your flourless pumpkin chocolate cake.