Chocolate cakes with secret ingredients are nothing new. Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake has been around since the Depression and Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake has been a staple at Cracker Barrel for 20 years, but those are really just gimmicks.
Mayonnaise is basically egg yolks, oil and lemon juice, all of which are often found in cakes, and why wouldn’t Coke be good in a cake? It’s sweet, syrupy and bubbly.
But what about a secret ingredient that actually replaces a regular ingredient? One of the main ingredients, in fact. Flour to be precise. Which puts a cake well onto its way to being gluten-free. But flourless cakes are nothing new either. They tend to be chocolate mousse cakes which are more of a souffle than a cake, or molten lava cakes which are more of a hot fudge sundae/pudding than a cake.
But a flourless cake that’s got a real cake texture, a fudge cake/chocolate birthday cake taste and texture, that’s harder to come by.
Quinoa will do it for you. Cooked quinoa, not quinoa flour. None of those bizarre flours (almond flour, rice flour, etc.) that gluten-free recipes are always asking you to dig around for. This one’s easy. Just cook up a little extra quinoa when you’re making dinner, and you’re ready to go. Or cook up a batch just for the cake. Just be sure and rinse it well before cooking, or buy the pre-rinsed kind.
You won’t be able to taste the quinoa in the finished cake either. You wouldn’t even know it was there if you hadn’t baked it. (It’s your secret to tell. Or not.) The cooked quinoa is puréed or processed until it’s smooth, so depending on the power of your food processor or blender, there might be a little residual texture, but nothing to identify the source. And as a bonus, if your processor blender is large enough, you do all the mixing in there. you won’t have a bunch of extra bowls to wash.
And quinoa is high in protein and the cake uses a lot of eggs, so we’re talking a high-protein cake here. Which is a plus. Not that it’s exactly health food though. There’s way too much sugar going on for that.
If you haven’t jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon and don’t want to buy it for just one cake, you don’t have to. Use any neutral-flavored oil; sunflower, safflower or canola. Even a mild olive oil would work. But think about investing in the coconut oil. It gives a coconut aroma to the finished cake which is a nice touch. The cake smells a little a Mounds bar or a chocolate macaroon, even though there’s no coconut — just the oil.
And if it’s important to you — and it might be this time of year — it’s kosher for Passover. Which makes the macaroon smell extremely apropos.
Baking powder is generally considered kosher for Passover, and is often marked as such on the box, but views on baking powder during Passover vary. You do you.
If you become enamored of high-protein cake and want to move beyond chocolate, another recipe is provided for Cinnamon Sugar Snack Cake. Perfect for breakfast.
Chocolate Quinoa Cake
3/4 cup quinoa (enough to make 2 -1/4 cups cooked quinoa)
1 1/2 cups water
Cooking spray or melted coconut oil, for greasing the pan
2 tbsp. potato starch or dark unsweetened cocoa, for dusting the pan
1/3 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or other vanilla, if for Passover)
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp. sunflower or safflower oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or other vanilla, if for Passover)
Place the quinoa and water into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and cook the quinoa for 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Set the pan aside. The quinoa may be made 1 day or more in advance. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan, sprinkle the potato starch or cocoa over the greased pan, then shake the pan to remove any excess. Place the quinoa in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the orange juice, eggs, vanilla, oil, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and process until the mixture is very smooth. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or place in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and put in a microwave for 45 seconds, stirring and then heating the chocolate for another 30 seconds, until it is melted. Add the chocolate to the quinoa batter and process until well mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake it for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then gently turn it out of the pan onto a wire cooling rack. Let it cool on the rack.
To make the glaze, melt the chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in the microwave or over a double boiler. Add the oil and vanilla and whisk well. Let the glaze sit for 5 minutes and then whisk it again. Use a silicone spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Serve at room temperature and store any leftovers airtight at room temperature.
Cinnamon Sugar Quinoa Snacking Cake
2/3 cup quinoa – uncooked
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 -1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
1 tbsp. granulated sugar + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, mixed well
Rinse quinoa and cook in 1 -1/3 cup water according to package instructions. Cool quinoa. Place half of quinoa in a food processor (or blender) and add milk. Process for 2 minutes. Add remaining quinoa and 2 eggs. Process for 5 minutes until very smooth. (Continue in food processor if you have large capacity one. If you don’t, continue with electric mixer.) Pour quinoa/egg mixture in large bowl and add remaining eggs. Blend thoroughly. Add vanilla, butter, oil and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together brown sugar, 1 -1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda; add to wet ingredients and blend well. Pour into greased 9×13″ cake pan. Sprinkle blueberries over cake. (It’s ok if they sink into batter slightly.) Sprinkle granulated sugar/cinnamon mixture over top of cake. Bake in preheated 350°F. oven for 45 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out nearly clean. Don’t overbake.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.