Fudgy Ganache Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (low carb, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

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Every year I seem to hold some kind of unspoken competition with myself to make the richest, most decadent birthday cake on earth. Each year has gotten successively richer, and more decadent, and this year has been the most ridiculous yet. I am actually concerned. I have no idea how to top this thing. Next year I might just chug a pint of heavy whipping cream and call it a day.

This is a tour de force. It’s like eating a brick of fudge. I could build a delicious house with this cake. A delicious NEIGHBORHOOD. There are THREE LAYERS EACH OF FUDGE CAKE AND DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE ALONE. NOT TO MENTION THE BUTTERCREAM?? JUST LOOK AT IT.

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ARE YOU SEEING THIS.

This is the cake your mother warned you about.

Luckily, I am here to hold your hand through everything. I even tried to temper the intensity of this confection for more delicate sensibilities by arranging actual edible flowers on top. You are not obligated to do this, but just be warned that without them, you’ll be slammed in the face with the full magnitude of this chocolate monsterpiece. It takes no prisoners. 

This recipe was written for a three layer 6″ cake instead of the more traditional 9″ rounds because trust me, it’s enough. You are however totally free to make two slightly thicker 6″ rounds, or even one 9″ round. Whatever floats your boat!

You know what else oughta float your boat? The fact that this magnificent creation is low carb, gluten free, dairy free, and contains no added sugar. You could do worse.  

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Fudgy Ganache Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (low carb, gluten free, no sugar added, dairy free)

Yields: Around 10-12 servings

Cake recipe adapted from Gourmet Girl Cooks

Ingredients: 

Cake
2/3 cup butter, coconut oil, or dairy-free spread, melted
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 to 1¼ cups powdered sweetener
¼ tsp sea salt
1½ tsp liquid stevia
½ tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, or about 1/3 cup egg whites

Ganache
6 to 8 oz good quality sugar free chocolate
6 to 8 oz heavy whipping cream or unsweetened almond milk (8 oz. = 1 cup)
½ tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
½ cup butter or dairy-free spread, softened
2 – 2 ½ cups powdered sweetener
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp almond milk or heavy whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325° and grease two or three 6″ round (or one 9″) cake pans. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and place on bottom of each pan. I’m serious, don’t skip this.

To make cake, use a large bowl to combine melted butter (or coconut oil or dairy-free spread), cocoa powder, powdered sweetener and salt. Mix until well combined.

Stir in stevia and vanilla. Add egg whites one at a time, beating briskly after each addition until batter is glossy and smooth. Spread batter evenly in prepared pans using a spatula. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on how thick each layer is) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely in pan before flipping out onto a cooling rack or cake stand.

To make buttercream frosting, beat softened butter or dairy-free spread and powdered sweetener until well combined and smooth.

Add vanilla extract and unsweetened almond milk or cream and beat until fully incorporated, adding more if needed for spreading consistency. Keep refrigerated until ready to pipe or spread onto cooled cake.

To make chocolate ganache, coarsely chop chocolate with a serrated knife, and then transfer to a heatproof bowl. You can now either bring the cream or almond milk to just a boil over medium-high heat (don’t let it boil over!), or heat it in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to melt the chocolate. Whisk together until smooth and shiny.

For an even lazier ganache, microwave the chopped chocolate and heavy cream or almond milk together, 30 seconds at a time. Let it sit for a minute, and then whisk away (I may have used this method).

NOW FOR MY FAVORITE PART. The layering. Place first cooled cake layer onto a cake plate and use the refrigerated buttercream to create a buttercream dam, piping around the edge. Pictured below:

See what I did there? The dam helps to keep the ganache from oozing out. This is my new favorite thing.

Continue this until the final layer, spreading top with remaining buttercream. Pour on the remaining ganache, which will be slightly thickened. If you’re extra fancy, add some ~*~organic edible flowers~*~ on top. Enjoy, and let every bite take you on a journey. 

Nutritional Info (Calculated for 12 servings, with dairy-free spread and unsweetened almond milk):

 flower cake nutrition

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Homemade sugar free chocolate truffles? YES.

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Remember that one time when I, a bold and fearless trailblazer, decided that cinnamon was the new hotness for Valentine’s Day, and not chocolate?

Yes. Well. That lasted less than a week. WE’RE BACK TO CHOCOLATE.

This is because I am nothing if not a slave to suggestion. And the suggestion, from literally everywhere on this earth, was to buy some chocolate. I’m not kidding when I say I saw a car commercial heavily imply that my loved ones would abandon me if I did not purchase some chocolate (…well, and a car) for this hallowed holiday of Saint Valentine.

So there was that, but then also I would go out and buy chocolate even if someone explicitly instructed me not to. The lesson here being that I am completely lost on how I thought chocolate wasn’t going to factor heavily into my Valentine’s Day agenda.

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There was one problem, though. Most commercial chocolates are loaded with about 17 different forms of sugar, hydrogenated oils, and fillers. Low carb they are not. Think you’re safe buying sugar free? Let’s take a look at a pretty standard label for sugar free chocolate:

simply lite whole label

Not so bad, you might say. Short list, mostly recognizable ingredients. WAIT A MINUTE –

simply lite close up

Charming. Maltitol: not even trying to be your friend. A lot of sugar alcohols (sorbitol, isomalt, etc.) can have this affect. Add that to some other fun facts (as summarized by About.com):

Although claims are often made that maltitol has little impact on blood sugar, this turns out not to be the case.

Maltitol is a carbohydrate. Although our bodies do not absorb all the calories in maltitol, this substance does provide us with 2 to 3 calories per gram, compared to the 4 calories per gram of sugar. Since maltitol is a carbohydrate, and since it provides calories, you would expect it to impact blood glucose.

In particular, maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52, which approaches that of table sugar at 60. The powdered form has a glycemic index of 36, which is still higher than most other sugar alcohols and all artificial sweeteners.

Estimates run from 75% to 90% of the sweetness of sugar.

So, if maltitol has ¾ of the sweetness of sugar, ¾ the calories of sugar, and ¾ the glycemic index of sugar, it isn’t a far leap to the conclusion that you need ¼ more maltitol to get the same effect of sugar.

Cool. So it’s basically expensive sugar that gives you indigestion. This is where we learn that “sugar free” ≠ “low carb”. So forgive me for being a little picky with my “sugar free” (please insert copious air quotations) options here.

I was stuck. What’s a dedicated chocoholic to do? Then suddenly, an epiphany: obviously, I needed to MAKE MY OWN TRUFFLES.

Ha! Ha ha!! Yes. HINT: Not obvious. This is actually the conclusion crazy people reach. I will be cleaning chocolate out from my fingernails for the next ten years.

But if nothing else, I am a woman of CONVICTION (read: stubborn). I could not give my loved ones chocolate-flavored corn syrup in a box, nor could I bring myself to purchase a fancily disguised laxative.

It took me about 100 years, but I finally settled on six different truffle varieties: marzipan hearts (recipe here at All Day I Dream About Food), fudgy ganache, fudgy ganache covered in MORE chocolate, peanut butter cups, cream filled, and white chocolate with strawberry buttercream. Go big or go home, I say.

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There is no real recipe here, per se. More of an EXPERIENCE. But I can share some tips (if you really must insist on going through with any of this), and let me know if you’d like me to write up a specific recipe for anything, and I SHALL PROVIDE.

FIRST: 

Use a quality sugar free chocolate. Some of my personal favorite brands include Coco Polo and Innocent Chocolate. A truffle can only taste as good as the chocolate you put into it! Same for if you opt to go the cocoa powder route – get the good stuff. IF YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONES.

IMG_5330Yes excellent this will do nicely 

SECOND:

Use a powdered sweetener for all your sweetening purposes. Chocolate is finicky. It doesn’t WANT to cooperate with you. If you need to sweeten, use a powdered sweetener to dissolve and blend better. This was especially helpful for making a sugar free white chocolate. My powdered sweetener of choice is Confectioners Swerve. You can also powder a granulated sweetener in a food processor.

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THIRD:

Use a double boiler to melt/temper chocolate on low heat. I’ve said it before, but chocolate is a jerk and wants to seize, clump or separate. For the best (and safest!) results, melt with a double boiler, and preferably not a microwave. I mean, you can make a microwave work, but it’s uneven, easier to burn, and harder to estimate doneness.

IMG_5258Dat ganache.

GODSPEED. And happy Valentine’s Day! ♥