Gluten-Free Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Cake

A chocolate layer cake with ice cream and raspberries between the two layers

Kitra: Sometimes, most of the time, it’s really unbearably hot in DC. And nothing is okay unless it’s made of ice cream.

Jordan: However, I didn’t grow up eating (so-called) ice cream cakes. You know, the kind that are just layers of ice cream and some crumbly bits and sub-standard frosting on top. I don’t know that I’d ever had one of those before a few years ago. If so, I’ve completely erased it from my memory.

I recall a period where we had a lot of Dairy Queen ice cream cakes in the freezer, but it seems like that may have been after Jordan went to college.

I don’t believe in cakeless ice cream cake. Kitra, meanwhile, just googled pictures of DQ cakes and whispered “Yeah, these guys” to herself. But because this is a cake blog and not an “ice cream shaped like cake” blog, we went with something that involved actual cake.

And since our dad was in town, we made it gluten-free. Which, may I add, is one of the true gifts of ice cream. The cake part is harder, but not that hard.

If you do gluten-free baking with any regularity, we highly recommend the America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten-Free cookbook, which we purchased a while after our dad was diagnosed with celiac.

That cookbook was a lifesaver. WAFFLES THAT TASTE LIKE REGULAR WAFFLES Y’ALL. It had been a long time since we had eaten regular tasting desserts. And their cakes are so genuinely good that I made them regularly for events in high school.

A lot of the time we prefer gluten-free foods that taste like an improvement on their regular counterparts—we both own a copy of Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours for this reason. However, if you want a gluten-free chocolate cake that tastes exactly like a regular chocolate cake, ATK is where it’s at. That’s what we did here.

Also, if you’re making an ice cream cake, you should use ice cream that you actually like. We used Tillamook, since they recently started distributing in DC and as an Oregonian I feel it is my responsibility to single-handedly uphold that market.

We’ve included directions here that will make your life easier, but I want to emphasize this up front: do not let this cake break you. It will be fine. I promise.

And whatever you do, don’t think “eh, this will be fine without a mold.” Put the ice cream in the damn pan and save yourself.

(Kitra might have had to leave the room for a bit while we were assembling.)

(It was so horrifying. Be better than us.)

I feel like we’ve done a terrible job of selling this so far, but it really is a delicious cake.

It’s also ice cream cake. It sells itself.

Go, make ice cream cake and make the best of the last terrible bit of summer.

Chocolate ganache sliding over the edges of an ice cream cake

Gluten-Free Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Cake

Notes

The recipe below uses the America’s Test Kitchen gluten-free flour, which we recognize most people don’t have on hand. You can substitute another all-purpose gluten-free flour by weight. Don’t try to substitute by volume. Also, don’t skip the xanthan gum even if your flour already includes it. Finally, don’t try to substitute a regular all-purpose flour; just use your favorite chocolate cake recipe instead.

The photos of this cake show whole raspberries, but we found them awkward to eat so we’re recommending that you break them up a bit more below. You can also use a different ice cream if you like; chocolate would also work if you want a double-chocolate situation.

This cake was far easier to cut, eat, and photograph the next day, once it had some time to freeze completely. We recommend making it a day ahead—you can continue to freeze it right in the pan before turning it out.

Ingredients

Cake

From America’s Test Kitchen

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up
  • 1 oz. cocoa powder
  • 3.5 oz. gluten-free flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5.25 oz. (¾ cup) sugar
  • ½ cup milk

Assembly and ganache

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ cup (215g) semi-sweet chocolate (chips are fine)
  • ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 3 cups (400g) ice cream of your choice
  • 6 oz raspberries, approximately, rinsed and dried

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° with the rack in the lower middle of the oven. Grease an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine oil, bittersweet chocolate, and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Microwave at 50% power for about 2 minutes, stirring in the middle, until mostly melted. Stir again to combine and melt any lumps, then set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.

In a medium-to-large bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Add sugar and whisk to combine. Whisk in chocolate mixture, then add flour mixture and beat until everything is well-combined. (Since this is a gluten-free cake, no need to worry about overmixing!)

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once done, first set cake on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then move it to the freezer to fully cool.

Meanwhile, line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan (it’s fine to use the same one) with parchment or wax paper.

Once the cake is fairly firm and cold, remove it from the freezer and slice it in half horizontally. Place the bottom layer in the lined pan and spread a layer of raspberry jam on top. (This both adds more raspberry flavor and helps keep the ice cream from soaking into the bottom layer.) Set aside.

Set aside a handful of raspberries for decorating the cake, if you like. Put your ice cream and remaining raspberries in a medium bowl and beat it all up a bit with a spatula or electric mixer. You’re just trying to get it to a point where the ice cream soft and spreadable, not melty. Think a little stiffer than soft serve. Once you’re there, dollop it on top of the cake layer and spread it all the way to the edges of the pan. Carefully place the remaining cake layer on top put the entire thing in the freezer to chill for at least two hours, preferably overnight.

20 minutes or so before you want to top the cake, make your ganache. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan or microwave until it is hot to the touch or until steaming. Add the semi-sweet chocolate and let it melt for a few minutes, then whisk until it forms a smooth ganache. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the ganache is cool, remove the cake from the freezer. Turn the cake out onto a plate, then flip it right-side up onto your serving platter of choice. (You may need to run a butter knife around the edge of cake, between the paper and the pan, to make this easier. If it’s really stubborn, you can dip the base of the pan in warm water very briefly to loosen it up a bit.)

Remove the wax paper/parchment. Pour the cooled ganache over the top and gently smooth it across the top and over the sides. Freeze again for at least 30 minutes, until the ganache is firm. Top with extra raspberries if so desired, slice, and eat quickly.

Slab Pavlova with Roasted Cherries, Berries, and Earl Grey Whipped Cream

Pavlova topped with whipped cream, roasted cherries, and blueberries

Kitra: This post comes to you from the great state of Oregon (est. 1859) and also from the past. More specifically, the Fourth of July.

Jordan: We were visiting our dad in our hometown and wanted something that was gluten-free for him but was also festive, because when you have a cake blog you’re not allowed to let Independence Day pass without doing something red-and-blue. It’s a rule.

We’ve been looking at pavlovas for a while, because Jordan found a technicality that says they count as cake.

It’s not a technicality, it’s Wikipedia! The title of the article is Pavlova (cake). It counts..

And since my favorite dessert is an Eaton mess, which is basically the same thing (albeit less pretty and with wildly different ingredient ratios) I’m an easy sell.

Pavlova, if you’re not familiar with it, is essentially a giant meringue, generally topped with fruit and whipped cream. You can make it in elegant shapes, or you can just go rustic and free-form it.

And when I saw Erin McDowell had a recipe for a slablova, it was so fun to pronounce that we had to go with it.

It’s like slab pie, only instead of rolling out pie crust you’re just throwing a bunch of egg whites and sugar together and forgetting about them in the oven.

Everyone loves a slab pie.

We were also making a roasted cherry sorbet (which we also recommend, so we doubled the cherries and used those as a topping along with blueberries. We also added an Earl Grey whipped cream, because Kitra will never pass up a chance to add tea to something.

And I have no regrets about it. It brings another flavor to the dish, and allows you to cut the sweetness of the Pavlova.

I did find the pavlova itself to be a bit on the sweet side, but I also topped my portion with weird store-bought almond whipped cream. (Don’t ask.) If you’re going with a store-bought whipped cream, first of all don’t do that, but second of all, you’ll want to make sure you use some unsweetened fruit to keep it from being overwhelmingly sweet.

But really, don’t do that. Even an infused whipped cream is so, so easy.

Overall, a nice change of pace and a good dessert for a lazy summer evening in the backyard.

Pavlova topped with whipped cream, roasted cherries, and blueberries

Slab Pavlova

Notes

Fair warning that while a meringue bakes at quite a low temperature, the cherries do not. If you want to do both, you might consider doing the cherries the day before. Otherwise you’re going to have to open up your oven to get it back down to 275°, which will make your kitchen miserable. This would also be good topped with any other fruit, cooked or raw.

You don’t have to infuse the whipped cream, but it’s a very nice touch. If you go with regular whipped cream, just put the tiniest bit of sugar in it–the meringue will be plenty sweet.

Meringue

Recipe from Erin McDowell on Food52

Ingredients
  • splash of white vinegar
  • 9 egg whites, preferably at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • roasted cherries, fresh blueberries, and whipped cream, to top
Directions

Preheat oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wipe out the beater and bowl of an electric mixer (stand or handheld) with white vinegar. Dry.

Beat egg whites and cream of tarter on low until foamy. Increase speed to medium and add the sugar very gradually, beating throughout. Beat to stiff peaks, about 8-10 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.

Spread/pour the meringue mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Spread into whatever shape and thickness you desire–a thicker pavlova will have a slightly gooier center, but a flatter one will serve a crowd more easily.

Place baking sheet in the oven and reduce the temperature to 225°. Bake for 2 hours, then turn the oven off. Let cool in the oven completely, which may take another 3 hours or more. It will continue firming up in this time, so don’t take it out until it’s mostly cool.

Carefully move to a serving platter, if desired. Top with whipped cream, blueberries, and roasted cherries.

Roasted cherries

From Food52

Ingredients
  • 1 lb sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • ¾ cup water
Directions

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a baking pan with sides, mix together cherries, sugar, and salt. Bake until the cherries have released their juices and everything is bubbling nicely. This will take somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start to burn. Once the juices are thickly bubbling, add the water, stir, and let cook another 10 minutes or so until they’ve thickened up again.

Remove from oven and transfer cherries to a container in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to top the pavlova.

Earl Grey Whipped Cream

Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Directions

In a heat-safe bowl in the microwave or a small saucepan, heat the cream until hot to the touch. Add the tea bags and let them steep is cool and lightly flavored. Discard tea bags and move the cream to the fridge to chill completely. Once cold, whip cream and sugar using an electric mixer on high until thick and fluffy.

Honey Pistachio Cake

Slice of honey pistachio cake on a plate with the full cake and a mug in the background

Jordan: This is a good cake.

Kitra: I’d make this again on a non-Cake Day. It was so easy, so low stress, and so damn good.

One of the best effort-to-outcome ratios we’ve ever had for sure.

This all started with honey powder that we picked up on trip to New York over 2 years ago. As soon as we saw it, a pistachio cake with honey frosting was the goal.

Like baklava, but in cake form and without having to wrestle phyllo dough. The cake has a great pistachio flavor, nutty and not too sweet.

The frosting is so delightful, I’d like to put it on everything. The topping adds just the right baklava flair (and more pistachios!).

Honestly, we don’t know what else to say about this cake. We ate it in total silence: no critique, no chit chat. Just cake.

Top-down image of pistachio cake with honey-glazed pistachios on top

Honey Pistachio Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Notes

This frosting uses honey powder, which is essentially just dehydrated honey. We bought ours at Kalustyan’s in New York, but you can also order it online or check at specialty food stores near you. If you don’t want to seek it out, feel free to try one of the many honey buttercreams on the internet. Stella Parks’s Honey Italian Buttercream is probably great, albeit a bit more complicated than a standard buttercream.

We used a food processor for the cake itself, but you can also make this with a stand or handheld electric mixer and it won’t add much time to the process. We thought of it too late, but in the directions below we have you make the frosting in food processor before the cake so you only have to wash it once. We did our frosting in a mixer, but no one likes extra dishes.

Pistachios should be roasted, shelled, and unsalted in both the cake and the topping. If you want a fun green color and a boring task to entertain yourself, you could probably blanch the pistachios before using. If using a mixer, you’ll need to find pistachio meal instead; use 140g rather than trying to measure by volume.

Feel free to add some spices to the cake batter to really emphasize the baklava flavor. A bit of cinnamon and/or cardamom would be great here.

Ingredients

Frosting

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (70g) honey powder
  • 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140g) pistachios (see note)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (5 oz.) unsalted butter, cold is fine if using a food processor, softened if using a mixer
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (115g) flour

Topping

  • ½ cup (60g) pistachios
  • 2 ½ tablespoons (50g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Frosting

In a food processor: Add all frosting ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Process until thick and fluffy, scraping down as necessary. Transfer to a separate bowl and scrape/wipe out the food processor as best as possible, but no need to wash.

With a mixer: Beat the butter on its own until it is soft. Sift in the honey powder and powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add the vanilla extract and beat until the frosting is thick and fluffy. Transfer frosting to a separate bowl and scrape/wipe out the mixer bowl and beater as best as possible, but no need to wash.

Cake

Preheat oven to 325°. Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper, then butter or spray the sides of the pan.

In a food processor: Add the pistachios, sugar, and salt and process until they are a very fine powder. Chunk up the butter, add it to the mix, and process until it becomes smooth and soft. Add eggs one at a time, blending in between and scraping the bowl down if need be, then blend in the milk and extracts. Add baking powder and blend again. Add the flour and pulse until everything is just combined.

With a mixer: Beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between each, then add milk and extracts and beat to combine. Mix in salt and baking powder. Add flour and mix until just combined.

Both methods: Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Move to a wire rack to cool.

Topping & Assembly

Once the cake has cooled fully, make the pistachio topping. Combine pistachios, honey, salt, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is slightly thickened and everything smells great. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you assemble the rest of the cake.

Carefully divide the cake into two layers. Spread frosting gently on top of the bottom layer, going all the way to the edges. Replace the top layer.

Once the pistachio glaze has cooled enough to no longer be runny, use a spoon to scoop the pistachios out and place them on top of the cake. Drizzle the remaining liquid over top. Serve.

Our 2nd Birthday Cake

Three-layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and a candle

Jordan: About two years ago, we decided that we had more cake recipes bookmarked than we had occasions to make cake, and thus, Cake Day was born.

Kitra: I will always remember what weekend our cake… anniversary(?) falls on because it was the same day that Falsettos opened on Broadway in 1992. That’s in my calendar as a recurring event.

(Kitra is a nerd.) Cake Day shares a birthday weekend with several awesome things, including Kitra’s local bookstore, where she picked up a copy of Alison Roman’s Dining In this weekend. It’s full of great dinner ideas and brilliant cooking tips, but it also includes a recipe for the fluffiest yellow cake ever.

It’s tall and beautiful just like a birthday cake should be. Also, I would like everyone here to try and explain to relative strangers that you’re buying a birthday candle for a cake about cake. (Thanks to my other favorite local store for never being put off by sentences like that when I come in to buy a “2” candle, or walk in with nothing but a melon and a dog in hand.)

Funnily enough, we didn’t really have this kind of birthday cake growing up. (I was always a cheesecake fan, at least after the “cakes shaped like princess castles or dinosaurs” phase. I contained multitudes as a child). But there’s something undeniably birthday-y about good yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and sprinkles.

Mine often had the misfortune of being Halloween-themed, so I too lacked the classic birthday cake experience. In fact, for the past 6 years I haven’t had cake at all. But yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles is still what I bring to any and all birthday celebrations that I’m allowed to bring cake to.

Last year we tried out the recipe from Stella Parks’s cookbook, Bravetart, and it was… fine? But it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. (The cookbook is great though, don’t get us wrong.) This one hit the spot.

I’m pretty loyal to the Smitten Kitchen cake and frosting, but I think that the size and scale of this cake work better with a fluffy beautiful cake like this. (If you want a sheet cake though, you know where to look.) We kept the frosting though, because it is just so damn easy and smooth.

That said, if you happen to have a recipe for a fudgy frosting that tastes just like the amazing canned stuff you buy at the grocery store, send it our way. There’s always next year.

Three-layer cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and a lit candle

Fluffy Yellow Cake

From Dining In by Alison Roman

Notes

On the order of operations: We have you prep your dry and liquid mixes first here, so that they’re ready when the time comes to add them. However, the butter/sugar/egg process takes almost 10 minutes here, so if you have a stand mixer we recommend starting that first and prepping the other ingredients while it runs.

Ingredients

  • 3¼ cups (365g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz.) butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400g) white sugar
  • ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

First, prep your dry and liquid ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl (or large liquid measuring cup), combine buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and set that aside too.

In a large bowl (we mean large; don’t skimp here) combine butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Using an electric hand or stand mixer, cream on high for about 4 minutes. The mixture should be very light and fluffy; take the full time here will make the next step work better. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, then beat on high for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is absurdly fluffy and roughly doubled.

Add about a third of the flour mixture and beat on low until it’s just mostly combined. Mix in half the buttermilk. Repeat with another third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk. Add the last of the flour and mix until fully combined, being sure to scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl.

Divide the cake batter evenly into the three prepared pans. If you want to be precise and use a scale, we found that each pan got about 600g of batter. Smooth the surfaces of each layer.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You’ll likely want to shift the cakes halfway through, to change up whichever is in the middle (if you put them all on one oven rack) or on its own rack (if you used two). Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before gently turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream

Adapted the tiniest bit from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

Notes

We made this in the food processor, but if you don’t have one (or don’t have a large enough one), you can do it with an electric mixer as well. Just beat the butter, powdered sugar, and salt together first before adding the remaining ingredients. If you’re using a mixer, we recommend sifting your powdered sugar first; it’s not necessary with the food processor.

Deb uses unsweetened chocolate here; we used Trader Joe’s 70% dark chocolate. Either will work, but of course dark chocolate will end up with a slightly sweeter frosting.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks, 12 oz.) butter, softened
  • 4½ cups (540g) powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 oz (170g) dark or unsweetened chocolate (see note), melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In a large food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Scrape the sides of the processor bowl to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed ingredients hiding anywhere. Blend again until fluffy.

Pecan Browned Butter Cake

Pecan browned butter cake, topped with whipped cream and strawberries and missing a slice

Jordan: Let’s start by saying that this cake was delicious.

Kitra: It tastes like pralines, and that wasn’t even the intent. It’s that lovely.

Think nutty, buttery, and lightly caramelly. We ate more than half the cake in one sitting.

Added bonus: no wheat! Which generally is… not a bonus. But it’s good here.

That said, we failed at one part of this cake. Or rather, I failed at it. (Kitra was just along for the ride.) The original cake included cornmeal, but in an attempt to make it kosher for Passover, we swapped that out. We also swapped out the small amount of all-purpose flour (which also makes it gluten-free)… Unfortunately, I remembered too late that rice flour, which we used, is still kitniyot, just like corn is.

It’s totally doable to make this work though if that’s your goal. Just don’t arbitrarily pick rice flour like we did.

It wasn’t arbitrary! It was recommended by the people in the comments as a gluten-free swap, and I already had it in my pantry. It was, however, not fully thought-out. Fun side story: I’ve also done this in the other direction. I once used a kosher for Passover recipe to make cookies for a gluten-free friend and realized as they were going in the oven that matzo meal is, you know, decidedly not gluten-free. Cookies were good though.

I enjoyed them.

I’ll also note that this cake is kosher for Passover if you eat kitniyot (corn, rice, legumes, etc.), which as far as I can tell is mostly a matter of how strong your feelings are about tradition, unless you’re Orthodox.

Jordan has done a lot of research and needs more outlets for it. I just like cake and know I should eat less wheat because it doesn’t always make me feel great but I’m in denial.

In my defense, there are a lot of topics I have done unnecessary research on but this is not one of them. It just comes from being the only non-Jew at my boyfriend’s mother’s Passover seders. Ask me about World War I facial surgery and then we’ll get into some unnecessary research.

We should end on something other than facial surgery. So: this cake is great and you should eat over half of it in 20ish minutes. No regrets.

Pecan browned butter cake topped with whipped cream and a pile of sliced strawberries

Pecan Browned Butter Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, where it was adapted from Watt’s Grocery

Notes

We made some significant changes here, the biggest of which was swapping the cornmeal for more pecan, which Deb Perelman does in another nut/cornmeal recipe of hers. This has the added benefit of eliminating the three-hour resting time in the original recipe and allowing it to be made entirely in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll want to swap in an equal weight of ground nuts (pecans or other) and simply combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the butter, eggs, and vanilla.

If you want to make this rice-free, you could probably swap the rice flour for about 2 tablespoons of potato starch. (Fair warning that we haven’t tried this ourselves.) If you don’t cake about it being gluten-free and don’t want to buy another type of flour, feel free to use 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, as in the original recipe.

Finally, we found this cake to be a little on the sweet side, so we’ve marked a bit of the sugar as optional.

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons (4.5oz) butter, cold is fine
  • 1 cup (100g) pecan halves, toasted and cooled
  • 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar (optional)
  • ¼ cup (35g) rice flour (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • lightly sweetened whipped cream and berries of your choice, for topping (optional)

Directions

First, brown the butter. In a small pan, melt the butter and cook it over medium-low heat until it begins to turn brown and smell nutty. Watch it carefully once it starts to get foamy, stirring frequently, as it can burn easily. Once it’s nicely browned, pour it into a small bowl and put it in the fridge or freezer to cool.

Preheat your oven to 325°. Line the bottom of a 9-inch tart, pie, or cake pan with parchment paper (don’t skip this!) and generously butter the sides.

In a food processor, pulse pecans and sugar(s) until finely powdered. Add rice flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse again until combined. Once the butter has cooled to room temperature, pour it into the food processor along with the egg whites and vanilla, and blend until thoroughly combined.

Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A toothpick won’t tell you anything useful here, so bake it until the edges are golden and the center is set. If you lightly tap the center, it shouldn’t leave much of an indentation in the cake once it’s done.

Let cool completely before topping with whipped cream and berries. Eat in one sitting (optional, but encouraged).

Chunky Carrot Cake

carrot-cake-1.jpg

Jordan: There’s a restaurant near my apartment that sells a four-layer carrot cake with roughly equal parts cake and frosting. It is monstrous and beautiful and impossible to eat in one sitting. My boyfriend and I once split a slice and still almost couldn’t finish it. He picked some up the other day and while it was perfectly fine, all it did was leave me with a craving for better carrot cake. Something not so painfully sweet, and with ALL the things in it.

Kitra: And I, like most people (I hope) will never say no to a chance to eat carrot cake. Or have my house smell like carrot cake. Or have it in my fridge for breakfast. Or dinner.

Carrot cake is one of those cakes that can go in a lot of different directions. Fancy layer cake? Casual sheet cake? Dinner while you type a blog post? Carrot cake has got your back.

The thing is, everyone has a different idea of what it is. Dense or fluffy? Nuts or none? Raisins? How many spices?

Is it just a vessel for cream cheese frosting? Should you actually be able to see the carrots or is this just a spice cake pretending to be healthy?

This is our version of carrot cake. Enough carrots that what you pour into the pan looks more like a carrot slurry than a batter. Walnuts because the cake needs some crunch to break up the density.

Also, raisins! Raisins belong in everything. Those people who complain about raisins being in oatmeal cookies or trail mix because “I thought it was a chocolate chip”? They are wrong.

Chocolate chips ruin the whole vibe of trail mix. I have never been disappointed that something was a raisin and not chocolate. I have been disappointed that it was chocolate.

Point is: if you like a light, fluffy, delicate carrot cake, this is not for you. If you like a chunky, dense, vaguely earthy carrot cake, read on.

carrot-cake-2.jpg

Chunky Carrot Cake

Adapted from Alton Brown

Notes

We made several big changes to this recipe. First, almost every carrot cake recipe needs more carrots. The compensate for the extra moisture, we swapped in a bit of whole wheat flour, a tip we stole from Stella Parks. Then we added in plenty of nuts and raisins. The extra volume was enough to fill a larger pan, which means we could have the sheet cake of our dreams.

The instructions below use a food processor, but it’s totally doable without. Just grate your carrots using the large holes of a cheese grater and whisk your ingredients very thoroughly in separate bowls before adding them to the main mix.

We used 8 ounces of all-purpose flour and 4 ounces of whole wheat, but feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking. We think you could have done as much of half of the flour with whole wheat, or you could reduce the amount if you’re really not a fan. We also suspect it would be great with a higher proportion of brown sugar to white, if you’re up for experimenting.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, washed, stem ends cut off
  • 340g (about 2.75 cups) flour, a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 120g (1 cup) walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 100g (⅔ cup) raisins
  • 280g (1⅓ cups) white sugar
  • 55g (¼ cup, packed) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 170g (¾ cup) plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350° and coat a 9”x13” pan with baking spray or butter and flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Using the large holes of your food processor’s shredding blade, grate your carrots and transfer them to a large mixing bowl.

Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt to the bowl of the food processor and blend for about 5 seconds to mix. Add the flour mixture to the carrots and toss/stir to coat everything. Add the walnuts and raisins and toss/stir again.

Add the sugars, eggs, and yogurt to the food processor and blend to combine. With the processor running, slowly add the oil until everything is well-combined. Pour the liquid mixture over top of the carrot/flour mixture and stir to combine.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and even out the top with a spoon or spatula. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 325° and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are golden.

Let cake cool completely in the pan before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Everyday

Notes

We like a less-sweet frosting, and Deb Perelman’s is definitely on the less sweet side. We also swapped in some plain yogurt in place of the milk/cream, which gave it even more of a tanginess. If you don’t have enough yogurt for that, feel free to use an equivalent amount of cream or whole milk.

Ingredients

  • 8oz (225g, or one block) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz, or ½ a stick) butter, softened
  • 160g (1⅓ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until mostly smooth. Add the sifted powdered sugar and salt and beat until thick and smooth. Add yogurt and vanilla and continue beating until well-mixed and slightly fluffy.

Chocolate Babka Swirl Coffee Cake

babka-cake.jpg

Jordan: This is a coffee cake, which means you can eat it for breakfast. It also uses a pound of butter, so you probably shouldn’t, but that’s not going to stop us.

Kitra: I eat ice cream for breakfast about 40% of the time, so this seems perfectly reasonable.

That’s sad and we’re not going to comment on it.

I mean, that percentage is lower in the winter. I eat a lot of Girl Scout Cookies for breakfast instead.

So if you’re looking for a cake that is better for you than Kitra’s usual breakfast fare but still feels like a comforting plate of carbs and chocolate, you’ve come to the right place!

If there’s one thing we know, it’s how to provide you with healthy breakfast options.

This is supposed to be a coffee cake (that’s cake to have with coffee, not cake made with coffee) mashed up with a loaf of chocolate babka. Call it babka-inspired: It has chocolate filling and swirly layers, but no one is going to mistake it for the real thing.

And that’s fine, because it’s “breakfast” and mostly chocolate. This cake is moist and pretty, so what’s not to love.

We both brought leftovers to work (it’s a LOT of cake) and both sets of coworkers demolished it, which is the sign of a successful cake in our book.

So have your cake and eat it (for breakfast) too.

Chocolate Swirl Babka Coffee Cake

Adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen

Notes

We used the cake recipe from Joy the Baker but, not wanting to track down chocolate wafers, we swapped in the filling from Smitten Kitchen’s Better Chocolate Babka. We didn’t use streusel because the original doesn’t and Kitra, like a monster, doesn’t enjoy it but both coffee cakes and babka often include it. Should you want to add it, use whatever recipe you like best (it’s included in other recipes from both Joy and Deb) and sprinkle it generously on top of each chocolate layer and/or on top of the whole thing.

This recipe calls for 2 cups of sour cream; a 16-oz container of sour cream contains about 30 tablespoons, which will put you just shy. We used the entire container and didn’t find it lacking, but if you happen to have the extra 2 tablespoons accessible it will make the cake slightly more moist and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 9 oz dark chocolate, or approximately 1½ cups of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (100g) powdered sugar
  • ⅔ cup (60g) cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (500g) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 (400g) cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups or 16 oz. sour cream (see note)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350° and butter and flour a bundt or tube pan (or coat it with baking spray).

First, make the filling. In a medium bowl, microwave butter and chocolate until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir together until smooth, then mix in powdered sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. Set the filling aside while you make the rest of the cake.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the softened butter and sugar to a separate large bowl and use an electric beater (or stand mixer) to beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until roughly combined between each, then add the vanilla.

Add half of the flour mixture and gently beat to combine. Repeat with all of the sour cream and then with the remaining half of the flour. Your batter will be quite thick, which is normal.

Scoop about 1½ cups of batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth it; no need to measure carefully here. Add several large dollops of chocolate (Joy says about ⅓ of a cup; Jordan says just eyeball it) and smooth that as well—we recommend using separate spoons for the chocolate and the batter so that you don’t mix them too much at this stage. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the batter and filling, ending with a layer of batter on top.

Bake for 70 to 80 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of batter. Let cool in the pan for at least half an hour before turning it out onto a cooling rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.