I made this cake for Mom’s birthday because peanut butter cups are her favorite thing on planet earth, but she doesn’t eat them any longer because … you know … chocolate. We do eat the non-chocolate ones sometimes, but it’s not the same. And because we avoid grains, legumes, and refined sugar most of the time, even the chocolate free ones aren’t a part of daily life.
So I saw this cake that’s been in my bookmarks for a long time, and thought of Mom and wanted to make it for her to show her I love her and she’s the best and I’m a mess without her constant support. She did love the cake. So did Dad. And so did I. And there’s still some in the freezer, which is nice.
Because I’m sharing this as my birthday approaches. Last year’s birthday was a bit of a blur of unpacking well after the sun went down, scarfing down some carry out from Del Frisco’s (which was so delicious I can’t even tell you – we were definitely hangry), and going back to the rental for a shower, stiff drink, and sleep before doing it all over again.
This year, I’m definitely in more of a celebratory mood with some plans on the books. And while I’ll probably bake something for myself, I just might take some of this out of the freezer and take a little birthday break because it’s so good.
There are layers of texture and flavor here that are so decadent and irresistible. The cake is pretty much the perfect carob/chocolate cake. It’s rich, but not heavy, so it let’s the real star of the show – almond butter! – shine.
The frosting might seem a bit unconventional, but if you work with patience it will get super fluffy and creamy and you won’t believe it’s basically just almond butter. The chopped up homemade almond butter balls are really gilding the lily, but we’re talking an over the top birthday cake here, so why the hell not gild the lily?
I suppose things go totally over the top then with the ganache that you could just eat with a spoon, but it not only make the cake gorgeous, it add this bitter creaminess that rounds everything out.
Cake. Birthdays. Another year come and gone. I’m not mad at any of it.Print
A decadent dessert with carob or chocolate cake, homemade almond butter cups, almond butter frosting, and ganache to top it all off.
Almond butter cups/balls
1 cup creamy almond butter
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
¾ cup coconut oil, melted, for coating
¾ cup carob or cocoa powder, for coating
2 ½ cups paleo flour blend (2 cups almond flour, 1 ¼ cups tapioca starch, ¾ cup coconut flour)
1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup maple sugar
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon carob or cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
1 ½ cups hot strong black coffee
¾ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups creamy almond butter (I like Barney Butter for this because it’s so creamy)
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup tapioca starch
¼ cup coconut oil, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla bean powder
2–4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk, plus more as needed
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus more as needed
¼ cup carob or cocoa powder
1 ½ cups carob or dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut butter
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
Additional milk and water as needed
Make the almond butter cups. In a medium bowl, stir together the almond butter, syrup, tapioca, and vanilla until completely combined. Form into roughly golf ball sized shapes. In a small bowl, stir together coconut oil and carob or cocoa powder. Dip the balls and place on parchment lined sheet tray to set. An additional coating of carob or cocoa may be necessary. Balls may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, 325 degrees F convection. Oil 2 8 or 9 inch baking pans, and a ramekin if you want to make a mini cake, and line the bottom only with parchment.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, carob or cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, milk, coffee, oil, and vanilla until a lump free batter comes together. Divide evenly between the pans, saving a little for the ramekin if desired, and bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pans.
When ready to assemble the cake, make the frosting. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the almond butter, maple, tapioca, coconut oil, and vanilla until light and fluffy. This takes time and patience, lots of scraping down the bowl, but it will come together. Add milk slowly until the desired fluffy, spreading consistency is formed.
Place one cake on the serving platter of your choice. Top with a smear of frosting. Dice some of the almond butter balls and press those into the frosting. Place another cake on top, and cover the entire cake with frosting. Repeat with mini cake if desired, the only difference is you’ll need to slice it horizontally.
Final step! Make the ganache. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the milk, carob or cocoa powder, chips, butter, espresso, and vanilla. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. If the mixture is separated or too thick, slowly whisk in up to ½ cup additional milk, and then up to ½ cup additional water. This should be more than enough for a glossy, spreadable ganache. Pour on top of the cake, gently pushing it to the edges so it just drips over.
Allow to set in the refrigerator about 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Cake may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil, and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave 1 minute or at room temperature 1 hour.
Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 30 minutes