Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cake + Marzipan Squirrels

Greetings! Sorry for the blogging hiatus! Things got stressful there for a bit--we just finished our neurology/psych unit, and are now onto skin/muscle/bones before we end school to study for boards--YIKES. Neurology was one of my tougher units; I'm very much a concrete person (probably why I like baking so much), so not being able to see/touch/feel things is always hard for me, which is a lot of diseases and disorders in neurology and psych. 

Anyways, it has been on my baking to-do list for forever to make a gluten-free cake that doesn't suck! In what is a case of irony, my boyfriend (who I'm gonna refer to as Boise Boy sake of his hometown) has Celiac disease so he can't eat anything with flour....which is obviously a pretty major part of my baking. Luckily, the genius pastry chefs behind Thomas Keller and the French Laundry Restaurant in Napa created this flour called Cup 4 Cup which is amazingly close to the real thing. The first time I ever bought gluten-free flour at the grocery store I took a bit in between my fingers and it was so grainy and starchy and NOT floury at all and Cup 4 Cup is so much closer to being the real thing. The best part is that you don't need a special GF recipe--just substitute into any non-GF recipe directly. 

Boise Boy is very sweet about my obsession with all carbs and flour, and he is the first one to tell me to order the croissant AND the donut for breakfast while he is stuck eating plain scrambled eggs. Because he rarely gets to order dessert off the dessert menu when we go out to eat, I wanted to make him a special GF cake with tons of chocolate, his favorite.

GF Chocolate Cake (adapted from add a pinch)

  • 2 cups Cup 4 Cup GF flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup high-quality cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup HOT brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped chocolate--I used a mix of dark and milk 

Start by sifting together all the dry ingredients. I recently invested in a flour sifter and it is amazing! Makes sifting go so much faster and the batter was so smooth. 

Next, add eggs, milk, vanilla, and oil and blend well, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times. Then slowly add the coffee a little at a time and beat on high for about a minute until the batter is thoroughly mixed. 

With a spatula fold in the chocolate chunks. These melt into the cake and make it super moist. Divide batter into pans (you can use two 9-inch, 8-inch, or 7-inch pans. I wanted a tall cake so I used a 3-inch by 7-inch pan. Baking times will vary depending on your pan size, but bake at 350 for 30 minutes and begin checking for doneness at that point, every 3-4 minutes. Mine took 45 minutes in the 7-inch pan. And make sure you have lined the bottoms of your pans with parchment + sprayed with canola oil so they don't stick! Nothing is more frustrating than trying to sweet talk a cake out of a pan. 

When cakes are done let them cool before removing them, wrapping them in plastic wrap, and freezing.

For the frosting I used Joy the Baker's "Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting" and it did NOT disappoint! It is light and fluffy and has a super complex chocolate flavor that comes from the Ovaltine powder. It tastes old fashioned and homemade. Make sure you use the Ovaltine WITHOUT malt if you are making it gluten-free because Celiacs can't have malted anything. 

Joy the Baker's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup Rich Chocolate Ovaltine powder

Start by creaming butter and cocoa powder together for a couple minutes on medium speed. Then add vanilla, salt, milk and powdered sugar a bit at a time. In a separate bowl mix together Ovaltine and heavy cream, then pour this into butter/sugar/cocoa mix and beat well on a high speed for at least a minute (pictured below). 

To frost you know the drill! Take your chilled/frozen cake and do your crumb coat --> chill cake for 10 minutes --> do final coat. For more details on frosting a cake check out this post. This frosting is amazing because it is super pliable and so so smooth but it holds its shape very well, too. Definitely use a bench-scraper to frost if you want that uber-smooth surface. 

Final coat! Really slather on the frosting here, use all that is in the bowl! 

To add a little something extra to this cake I made marzipan squirrels using cookie cutters. I was inspired by this darling mouse chocolate mousse cake that blogger My Name is Yeh made for her wedding! I added a little red food coloring to a small amount of marzipan to make some tiny cut-cut hearts. The pieces will stick on the frosted cake without any help--super easy decorating!

The snow/dirt at the bottom of the cake going around the edge is chopped almonds with powdered sugar dusting.

Boise Boy holding his GF treat!

Boise Boy holding his GF treat!