This Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Chocolate Ganache (Paleo Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe) is a fun twist on a classic candy: the turtle!
My inspiration for this cake was turtle candy, which is pecans and caramel dipped in chocolate. This cake’s flavor is deep chocolate and it’s sweet enough without being too sweet; its texture is light without being overly fluffy or spongy. On top of the cake I added a layer of vegan caramel made from dates and a couple other common ingredients. I made a quick chocolate ganache layer using cacao butter as the base for topping the caramel, but if you’re pressed for time you could melt a chocolate bar and use that instead. Additionally, a sprinkling of pecans adds crunch and nutty flavor.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
A classic flourless chocolate cake doesn’t contain flour or a leavening agent (except eggs), and is more like a dense baked chocolate custard. As it bakes, the cake develops a crisp outer layer, while the inside stays gooey and moist.
However, this Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Chocolate Ganache isn’t a classic flourless chocolate cake. I use almond flour, as well as tapioca and arrowroot starch to a get a more traditional cake-like texture, instead of a very dense, moist, and rich end product.
Are Flourless Cakes Gluten Free?
A classic flourless cake is typically gluten free; however, all flourless cakes aren’t necessarily gluten free, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they may have cross-contaminated ingredients. For example, oats that were processed in a facility that also processes products with gluten. Additionally, a flourless cake may contain crushed or ground cookies or another ingredient that contains gluten, even though the recipe itself doesn’t contain gluten. As a result, if you need to make sure that a flourless cake is gluten free because of an allergy, it’s best to make sure that all the ingredients going in it are gluten free.
All the components of this flourless chocolate cake recipe are gluten free; however, double check that all the ingredients you’re using were processed in a facility that certifies their products aren’t exposed to cross-contamination.
Ingredients in This Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe:
- Coconut sugar
- Avocado oil
- Pure vanilla extract
- Almond flour
- Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- Arrowroot starch
- Tapioca flour
- Medjool dates
- Cacao butter
- Maple syrup
Do You Need to Refrigerate a Flourless Chocolate Cake?
When I’m storing a classic flourless chocolate cake, I typically cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. Then I let the cake sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving. For this particular flourless chocolate cake, I recommend storing it wrapped in the fridge because the chocolate ganache has a tendency to melt at room temperature, and then letting it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. It will stay fresh for about five days stored this way.
Dates are originally from the Middle East and they grow in clusters on trees called date palms. A couple of my favorite varieties that are more widely available are Medjool and Deglet Nour, which are both brown and wrinkly, although Deglet Nour are typically a slightly lighter shade of brown and a bit less wrinkly than Medjool. When I lived in the Middle East I had a particular variety of date that is plump and light beige in color, and eaten fresh off the stem once they turn soft.
What do Dates Taste Like?
Dates are a very sweet fruit with complex flavor notes of caramel and molasses. Because of this, I like using dates as a natural sweetener in things like my sweet and spicy date vinaigrette, almond + joy smoothie, date and walnut paleo crispbread, and portable little energy bites, like my coconut walnut date bites.
Because of dates' caramel-like color, sweet flavor, and natural caramel flavor notes, vegan-friendly caramel sauce is commonly made with dates. Vegan caramel is as easy as pureeing dates with hot water to make a paste. To create a balanced flavor profile, I also add a touch of vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt.
How to Make Date Caramel
Date caramel, which is also sometimes called vegan caramel, is easy to make with a blender or food processor. Simply blend pitted dates and hot water until smooth. The ratio of dates to water will vary slightly based on the type of dates you’re using and how old (dry) they are. For a thick, spreadable caramel-like sauce, I typically use a ratio of 2:1 dates to caramel.
More Paleo Cake Recipes:
- Chocolate Cupcakes for Two with Fluffy Tahini Frosting from Healthy Sweet Eats
- Paleo Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Frosting from Texanerin
- Flourless Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake from The Big Man’s World
- Lemon-Vanilla Almond Cake (Paleo) from An Edible Mosaic
- Paleo Chocolate Cake:
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (75 g) coconut sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) plain, unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil or light olive oil, plus more to grease the cake pan
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (115 g) almond flour
- ¼ cup (20 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Caramel Layer:
- 1 cup/185g Medjool dates (about 10 dates), pitted
- ½ cup (120 ml) boiling water
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 pinch sea salt
- Chocolate Ganache:
- 2 oz (57 g) cacao butter
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt
- ¼ cup (28g) chopped pecans, for topping
- For the cake, preheat the oven to 350F; brush the inside of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Puree the eggs, coconut sugar, almond milk, oil, and vanilla extract in a food processor.
- Add the almond flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs, about 28 to 32 minutes. Cool completely.
- Once the cake is cooled, make the caramel layer. To do so, add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Spread the caramel evenly on top of the cooled cake, and then transfer to the fridge until the caramel is set (about 1 hour).
- Once the caramel layer is chilled, make the ganache. To do so, melt together all ingredients in a double boiler or microwave. Pour the ganache on top of the caramel layer and sprinkle the pecans on top. Transfer the cake to the fridge so the ganache can set before slicing and serving, about 15 minutes.
- Store any leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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