Two of my favorite holiday treats are hot cocoa and peppermint ANYTHING! This Hot Chocolate Candy Cane Cake combines both holiday flavors into a deliciously moist cake that is grain-free and dairy-free.
Baking grain-free and dairy-free cake is hard! I decided to do a grain-free cake because I had a lot of almond flour in the pantry to use up and it sounded like a fun challenge. Looking back I wouldn’t exactly call this baking challenge, “fun.” Grain-free baking is just so tricky! Getting the right ratio of ingredients took a lot of trial and error, and trial and error can be so expensive! How expensive?? Just trust me when I say I spend a lot of money on ingredients for baking and cooking. Don’t tell my husband!
I chose to make the cake dairy-free because I love the fluffy lightness of coconut cream over dense buttercream frosting. And, I figured if I’m going with a dairy-free frosting, I might as well make the whole cake dairy-free. But, with all unconventional baking recipes, there’s a few tricks I learned along the way.
Tips For Making This Cake
1. Refrigerate canned coconut milk overnight
Refrigerating the canned coconut milk ensures that the cream of the coconut milk is thick and stiff. Thick coconut cream will whip up easier and provide a more fluffy texture.
2. Freeze the bowl you plan to use to whip the coconut cream
This isn’t a requirement, in fact I’ve used a frozen bowl and a room temperature bowl with good results, but the frozen bowl helps prevent the whipped coconut cream from melting during the whipping part.
3. Use full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream
Reduced fat coconut milk will not whip up into a thick whipped cream consistency. You have to use full-fat! Canned coconut cream is high in fat and will work, too. I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream but I don’t like to use their full-fat coconut milk. It never whips up the way I want it to. I prefer Native Forest or Thai Kitchen Unsweetened Coconut Milk.
4. Line cake pan with parchment paper
Draw a circle around the bottom of the cake pan on parchment paper and cut out the circle. Grease your pan, lay the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, and then grease the parchment paper. This will prevent your cake from sticking and make it much easier to remove the cake from the pan.
5. Add hot cocoa to batter while still hot
The *hot* hot cocoa will whip up very easily with the rest of the liquid ingredients. It also keeps the coconut oil from solidifying, keeping the oil evenly distributed throughout the batter.
6. Use a food processor to crush your candy canes
You can crush your candy canes by hand but I find that using a food processor makes it so much easier, faster and less messy. Plus, the food processor helps to evenly crush the candy canes. No one wants to break a tooth on an unexpected giant chunk of candy cane!
7. Bring eggs to room temperature
I’ve heard this over and over but never seem to remember. 🙂 Room temperature eggs whip up much easier in the batter. I try to remember to put my eggs on the counter the morning I plan to bake but if I forget I’ll place the eggs in the pocket of my apron. That way my body temperature will help bring them to room temperature.
Need More Holiday Recipe Inspiration?
- 2 cups almond flour
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 1 cup hot cocoa made with coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Candy Cane Frosting:
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk, cream only
- 20 mini candy canes, crushed
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- At least one day prior to making your cake, refrigerate 2 cans of coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk.
- Freeze the bowl you will be using to mix the candy cane frosting. This will help stiffen your coconut cream.
- Using a food processor, pulverize 20 mini candy canes. You can crush them the old fashioned way but the food processor crushes them into powder much more consistently.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, mix the cream from the coconut cream or milk (no liquid), vanilla extract, and powdered sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes or until the cream forms peaks.
- Add in candy cane powder and mix until candy canes are evenly distributed.
- Wrap bowl in plastic wrap and place frosting in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 6 inch cake pan (I used PAM spray but you could also use butter or oil) and place parchment paper at the bottom of the pan. Grease parchment paper. Set aside. I used a deep springform pan, but you could use 2 shorter 6 inch pans.
- Make 1 cup of hot chocolate according to hot chocolate instructions. I used Trader Joe's Hot Chocolate Sticks added to 1 cup of leftover coconut milk (liquid) from the canned coconut milk used to make frosting. Simmer until chocolate mix is melted.
- In a large bowl, add almond flour, tapioca flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk to distribute ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, add eggs (preferably at room temperature), melted coconut oil, hot chocolate (hot to touch) and vanilla extract. Whisk or lightly beat until all ingredients are mixed well together.
- Pour wet ingredients into large bowl of dry ingredients and mix everything together using a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Pour cake batter into greased pan and place pan on center oven rack. Cook for 60 minutes or until toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. If using short cake pans, divide batter into two pans and cook for 25-30 minutes.
- Let cake cool for 10 minutes and then remove from cake pan. Place cake on cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once cake has cooled completely, carefully cut cake in half and frost the bottom layer with candy cane frosting. If using two short cake pans, no need to cut the cake in half! Using the remainder of the candy cane frosting, frost the outside of the cake and decorate as desired. I crushed extra candy canes and sprinkled them on the top of the cake and around the bottom perimeter.
- Store covered in fridge until at least 1 hour prior to eating.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! If you try out this recipe or any of my other recipes, comment below or tag me on Instagram, @stephaniemoore_rd. Happy Holidays!!
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