Chocolate Almond Quinoa Cake. No flour. 100% gluten free. And quite possibly THE best chocolate cake you’ve ever had! Trust me on this.
“Nuh-uh” you say. Take another look, a little closer up.
No flour. Just quinoa and almonds. And for those of you who are skeptical about the quinoa, you will not be able to taste it. Guaranteed. You’ll simply think it’s about the richest, most flavorful, and delicious chocolate cake you’ve ever had.
Have you ever seen anything quite so moist and delectable? Look at that tender, moist, decadent crumb! Imagine sinking your teeth into that…Ohhhhhh, yeaaaaaaaah….
This recipe comes by way of request from Elizabeth Ray (Make a Request!). She wrote: “Quinoa Chocolate Cake. I was at a cafe in Wasagaming, just outside Riding Mountain National Park. We had this cake for desert. It was very, very good! Moist, but not overly so, and not so sweet that you NEEDED coffee to help you finish it. You might still want it of course. It had a thin layer of icing, almost a glaze, but not quite. but the cake itself was remarkable, held together nicely without being mushy. It was one layer only, but we didn’t mind. It was enough, but not too much. This is starting to sound a lot like the three bears story, isn’t it?” I was tickled by this charming description as well as excited by the idea of a chocolate quinoa cake. I had already developed a cake using quinoa earlier this Summer (Honey Olive Quinoa Cake) and have two more baked goods recipes using quinoa that I’m getting ready to unveil in the near future, so I’ve been pretty into quinoa lately as it is. So this request was well-timed. It also helped that it came at the heel of a three day holiday weekend so I had some time to tackle it.
Unlike my Honey Olive Quinoa Cake which is moist but hearty and “cake-like”, the description of this cake brought to mind a very different image. As I visualized the final outcome, what actually came to mind was something along the lines of Julia Child’s fabulous Reine de Saba, chocolate almond, cake. I wanted a cake that was incredibly rich and moist but also delicate. I wanted a cake that wasn’t overly sweet but with full depth of flavor. And then there was the description of an almost glaze-like icing. So I got to work.
In order to achieve the smooth texture and moistness I was after, I knew the quinoa would need to be pureed. I remembered reading about this idea from a recipe in the book “Quinoa 365” and I’ve borrowed a couple of steps from it for my cake recipe.
While Elizabeth’s request didn’t include almond, I love the combination of chocolate and almonds. It just makes the chocolate flavor that much better. And it adds an element of elegance. The ground almonds add texture and airness to the cake as do the beaten egg whites, providing more “lift”.
I was absolutely floored by the end result. And I mean f.l.o.o.r.e.d.! The texture and flavor is out-of-this-world good! Gluten free Chocolate Almond Quinoa Cake. Elizabeth Ray, I want to reach through this computer screen to wherever you are and give you a big hug! Thank you for putting in your request and giving me the challenge and opportunity to develop a cake that is now a family favorite!
And yes, I think even Goldilocks would approve.
Todd loves this cake. And he has never liked cake before (he’s a pie man). Not until he married me anyway :) He likes my cakes, but he especially loves this cake! He said, “I think this is probably the best cake I’ve ever had.”
Todd sampling. Look at that luscious
pair of lips cake. Mmmmmmm.
Our precious baby Emily loves this cake, too! She had a big smile with every bite. I had a smile, too, knowing each bite was packed full of quinoa!
I tried offering our son, Liam, some cake. His response:
You learn not to take anything food-related personally – not with a 3 year old. Plus, how can anything hope to compete with the interest of a flower pot that can both serve as a helmet and toilet? Ah, the simple pleasures of life!
This cake is truly amazing. Trust me. MAKE IT!! Make it NOW!
Grease a 9×2 or 9×3 inch round cake pan. I use and love Parrish Magic Line. Made in the USA, hand-forged aluminum.
Note: If you tend to have bad luck with cakes sticking to the pan, you can also use parchment paper. Cut a circle out of parchment paper to snugly line the bottom of the cake pan, then our the batter over it.
Cook the quinoa while you’re preparing the other ingredients. To cook the quinoa, thoroughly rinse about 1/3 cup of quinoa in a fine mesh sieve (this removes the saponin, a natural coating on quinoa’s outer layer that is bitter and soapy tasting). Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with double the amount of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit another 5 minutes, still covered. Fluff with a fork.
You’ll need 3/4 cup whole almonds. Grinding them from whole will impart much more flavor than buying them already ground where they’ve been sitting in a plastic bag for who knows how long. So grind some almonds to a powder using a coffee/spice grinder or food processor.
3/4 cup whole almonds = 1 cup ground
Combine the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Add the unsweetened cocoa powder and stir to combine.
Add the ground almonds and stir to combine.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
Melt the butter, let it cool.
Combine the quinoa, egg yolks, milk, butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a powerful blend and blend until smooth.
The result will be a thick, pale paste. Place the quinoa batter in a large mixing bowl.
Add the sugar mixture and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to combine.
Beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy, add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat until the egg whites are satiny and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat.
These are what stiff peaks look like. When you lift the beaters out of the mixture the peaks will stand up and curl over at the tip, but remain firm.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the egg whites, half at a time.
We want the egg whites to provide some “lift” and airiness to the cake. Don’t over-stir, just fold them in and white swirls will remain in the batter.
Pour the batter into a 9×2 inch greased cake pan. I use Magic Line cake pans and LOVE them! Made in the USA with hand-forged aluminum. I have a 9×3 inch pan because it’s more versatile – it can accommodate higher cakes.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes before removing. Use a butter knife to carefully push the edges slightly towards the center to gently loosen the bottom of the cake.
Very carefully invert the cake onto a plate and then invert it back onto a cake platter, top side up. The cake will be slightly sunken in the middle as it cools, don’t worry, that’s to be expected for this cake.
To prepare the Chocolate Almond Glaze, combine all the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Pour the glaze around the top of the cake, and around the top edges so the glaze oozes down the sides. Use a knife to guide the glaze and spread it evenly over the cake. You’ll need to work fairly fast as the glaze dries quickly.
Sprinkle with slivered or sliced almonds according to your decorative preferences.
Clean up the glaze blotches on the plate with a wet paper towel or cloth. You don’t want to transfer the cake again to a clean plate – it likely won’t be able to withstand another move without falling apart.
This cake cuts beautifully.
Let’s coax that luscious slice of cake out of its chocolate sphere…
Enjoy! (You will, I promise.)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, loosely packed
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1½ cups granulated white sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup ground almonds
- For Chocolate Almond Glaze:
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- Slivered almonds for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x2 inch round cake pan. (*see note)
- Place the cooked quinoa in a blender along with the milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, almond extract, butter and coconut oil. Blend until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir the quinoa mixture into the sugar mixture until combined. Stir in the ground almonds.
- In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean but moist.
- Let the cake sit in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully inverting it onto a plate and then carefully inverting it again (top side up) onto a cake platter to cool completely.
- To make the Chocolate Almond Glaze: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the completely cooled cake, spread evenly over top and sides of cake. Immediately sprinkle with the slivered almonds. Allow the glaze to dry before serving.