News Bulletin for all those chocolate lovers out there….if you think a great chocolate cake is out of your reach on a gluten-free diet, think again! Chocolate cakes can be prepared, gluten-free, with spectacular results. From the every day layer cake to extravagant multi-layer genoise with flavored syrups and ganache, our gluten-free chocolate cakes are indistinguishable from the gluten variety.
The best chocolate cakes, gluten-free or not, are to a large extent the result of the quality of the ingredients you use. If you intend to bake an extraordinary cake, you should use the highest quality of ingredients that you can. To this philosophy one can also apply common sense. As an example, if you are making a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake for guests, you may want to go the extra mile and splurge on the best organic ingredients you can find; but on the other hand, if you are making cup cakes for the kids, standard and less expensive ingredients may be more appropriate. The following are some tips on ingredients that will help ensure the success of your cakes.
The great thing about chocolate cakes is that gluten-free flour seems to behave wonderfully when combined with chocolate. This is true for melted chocolate and cocoa powder. We have achieved superb baking results using the following gluten-free flour formula.
- 2 cups rice flour (white or brown)
- 2/3 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup corn starch
- 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
To simplify matters, double, triple or quadruple this formula; mix well and fill your flour canister, then forget about it. This gf flour can be used for anything calling for flour, cakes, gravy, sauces, coatings for meat, poultry or fish. For quick breads and cookies add up to an additional 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum. There are many other gf flour recipes in other cookbooks and from a variety of other sources, but we have found that many of these produce unreliable results. There are also other types of flours that some flour recipes use, such as garbanzo bean flour, and although they do provide additional nutritional value, they add additional flavors and textures to what is desired. And, let’s face it, are we really going after high nutrition value when we bake a cake? No, we want a sinfully delicious dessert. You can certainly experiment with other gf flour recipes, but be advised that when making our chocolate cakes, you may get different results.
Dark Baking Chocolate:
We consider chocolate the star ingredient of any chocolate cake and therefore, always use a top quality chocolate. Our preferred chocolate for baking is Scharffen Berger’s. This chocolate is handcrafted, naturally gluten-free, expensive and worth every penny.
Dark baking chocolate is available in unsweetened, bittersweet and semisweet. The difference between these is in the amounts of chocolate liqueur, sugar and flavor additives that they contain. Chocolate liqueur is also known as chocolate solids and is the pure essence of roasted, skinned cocoa beans. It actually contains no alcohol.
For the majority of cakes we bake, we use semi-sweet chocolate.
Cocoa powder is available as nonalkalized and alkalized (also called Dutch Process). To alkalize non-alkalized cocoa, add a pinch of baking soda. Alkalized cocoa powder is darker and has a milder flavor.
We are aware that there are still those who avoid vanilla extract on a gluten-free diet. Our recipes include vanilla extract, as we believe it is gluten-free because the protein in gluten found in the alcohol ingredient is destroyed in the distilling process.
There are many varieties of vanilla extracts on the market and some that even identify that they are gluten-free on the package. We always choose the most pure vanilla extract that we can find.
We have the pleasure of raising our own free-range and organic chickens and therefore have an endless supply of eggs. Obviously, not everyone can raise chickens, but if you can find free-range, organic eggs, you will discover that there is a tremendous difference from regular store-bought eggs. Free-range, organic eggs have deep orange yolks and are very flavorful. Whichever type of egg you buy, be sure to always select large eggs for baking. Eggs are essential in gluten-free baking to assist in rising and in lightening the cake.
All our recipes use the correct number of eggs to produce the desired result. If you wish to convert a recipe to a gluten-free version, we recommend adding an additional egg to the recipe.
Rule of thumb is always use unsalted butter in not only cake recipes but for all general cooking. Salt can and should be added as a separate ingredient and as necessary. However, a key reason for using unsalted butter is that is fresher. Salt acts like a preservative and therefore salted butter can be kept longer before being sold. We prefer Land O Lakes brand or any of the organic butters on the market.
Organic cream or milk are also far superior that regular cream or milk, and of course more expensive. If you can afford organic, you will find that it is worth the extra cost in taste, not to mention the health factor.
When a recipe calls for whipping cream, it simply means heavy cream that is whipped.
A key for whipping cream quickly is to pre-chill the bowl and beaters. Cream will whip faster when the tools you use are cold. Cream can also be whipped by hand with a whisk. Again, the bowl and whisk must be chilled and it does take a bit of wrist strength and endurance but it’s nice to know that you can do it if you want or had to.
Whipped cream will keep for several days in the refrigerator without change.
It is our belief that liqueurs are gluten-free. As with vanilla, the protein found in gluten is destroyed in the distilling process.
Liqueurs add spectacular nuances of flavors and transform a cake from great to fabulous. Liqueurs are also used in cake batters and in fillings like ganache.
Syrups are usually a combination of a liqueur, sugar and water that has been heated into a syrup consistency. Syrups are used to give a cake an additional hint of flavor and to moisten the baked cake.
We’re confident that any of the following cake recipes will astound you. Not only are they gluten-free, but they just might be the best chocolate cakes you have ever made or tasted!