Grain-Free Chocolate Berry Anniversary Cake with Meringue & Healthy Balsamic Cocoa Syrup


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4 years, folks!  That is how long Jorge and I have been married.  May 15, 2009.  I wanted to share some of my best memories of that day with you. 

Surrounded by our closest friends and family, we were sealed in the Mesa, AZ Mormon Temple at 11 am.  It was a really lovely ceremony conducted by the grandfather of one of Jorge's former mission companions.    We shot our bridals in the warm 90F sun before the sealing.  Despite the dewy warmth and the sun combined with Jorge's stigmatism, I adore how all our photos turned out.  

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After the ceremony, we held a small luncheon at Crackers Cafe for our friends and family.  Super yummy food and time to connect with those who'd come into town for the wedding.  Not wanting to crowd the day with the reception in the same day, we headed to the JW Marriott here in town for a relaxing evening.  Live music, a soak in the hot tub, exchanging wedding gifts with each other.  I can still feel the strong sense of peace with the commitments we'd made that day and the direction our lives were headed.

The following afternoon, we headed back to Mesa to get ready for the reception.  It was held in the backyard of some of my family's oldest friends.  Twinkle lights, fresh fruit, and lots of love.

It was magical.

It's gone by so fast and has yielded some of the great experiences for personal growth I've ever experienced.  I'm so grateful for marriage and for the eternity we get to spend with each other.

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So back to the cake...

I can't resist an opportunity to create something fun, fancy, and beautiful.  And an anniversary seems like the perfect moment for romantic chocolate and berries.  But although being rich and chocolate-y, this grain-free chocolate cake is light and fluffy.  As always, the use of Honeyville almond flour will give you the best results when baking.  It's the most uniformly finely ground almond flour I've found and it gives very consistent results.

The refined-sugar-free meringue adds an even greater measure of fluffiness to this celebration cake.  And the tangy balsamic cocoa syrup actually has many healthful ingredients so you can add celebrating healthy treats to your list of things to celebrate! 

I did split the batter into 3 layers for the sake of pretty.  So unless you are like me and love to create extra work for yourself, you can definitely combine the batter into just 2 9" rounds or one 9x13" pan.  It will be super delicious regardless!  If you combine into one pan, you'll likely have extra meringue and cocoa syrup but I don't see that being a problem, do you?

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Grain-free Chocolate Cake

5 pastured eggs

3/4 c. coconut oil

1/2 c. raw honey

1/4 c. blackstrap molasses

2 t. vanilla extract

5 c. almond flour (I use Honeyville)

2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 T. espresso powder

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine eggs, coconut oil, honey, molasses, and vanilla extract and beat on medium high to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt and whisk together well.  In 2-3 batches, sift the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing well each time.

Once fully mixed together, divide the batter into 3 greased 9" round cake pans. (Can use 2 9" rounds or 1 9x13" but cooking times will vary.)  Bake for 20-25 min, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before building cake.  While the cake cools, prepare both the meringue frosting and the healthy balsamic cocoa syrup.

Meringue Frosting

4 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 c. raw honey

1/4 t. cream of tartar

pinch sea salt

1 T. vanilla extract

Directions:

Place egg whites, cream of tartar and sea salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted.  Set aside.

Pour raw honey into a small saucepan and place over medium low heat.  Cook the syrup until it's darkened in color and reduced to about 1/3 a cup.

When the syrup is nearly ready, turn stand mixer to low for 60 seconds to incorporate ingredients.  Switch to medium speed and and mix until the whites get thick and foamy, about another 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer continuing to run, very slowly drizzle the hot honey down the side of the mixer bowl.  Once all the honey is incorporated, turn the mixer to high and mix until the whites increase in volume by 50% more, about 1 minute.  Turn the mixer off and add the vanilla extract.  Mix on high about 5-10 seconds to fully incorporate it.  The meringue is then ready to serve.  Use immediately!

*Notes:  The hot syrup will cook the egg whites.  Also, this meringue will be slightly different in texture than those made with white sugar.  It will not get as glossy but it'll still be just as (if not more) yummy!

Healthy Balsamic Cocoa Syrup

Yields:  1 cup

1/3 c. organic coconut cream (about half the cream from a can of coconut milk, allowed to separate)

2 T.  coconut oil (recommend naturally refined so there isn't a strong coconut flavor)

2 t. balsamic vinegar of choice (I used a strawberry balsamic)

2 T. raw honey

2 t. hot water (can vary depending on your choice of consistency)

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process on high until smooth and creamy.  This recipe will yield a thin, pourable syrup. Adjust consistency by adding more or less water.  

To assemble:

2 pints raspberries

Cake stand

Offset spatula

Directions:

Place one of the cakes down first.  Spread a thin layer of the cocoa syrup on it, then a thick layer of the meringue, then sprinkle with a handful of berries.  Place second cake on top of the berries and gently press down.  Repeat with syrup, meringue, and berries until all ingredients are used.

Cake is best if served immediately.  Leftovers should be kept covered in the fridge, 2-3 days more, to help the meringue keep it's shape.  Enjoy!!

 

Last year:  A Raw Lemony Kale Salad

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