Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gluten Free Grain Free Soul Cakes

This post is also a part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Back in the day, it was a Catholic tradition for soulers to come calling to households, offering to say prayers for the dead in honor of All Saints' Day - and their reward came in the form of small round cakes, called soul cakes, which were often baked with raisins, currants, or other dried fruits, frequently with the shape of a cross as a way of signifying that the cakes were a kind of alms. It was an Ur-trick-or-treating.

I identify as a mixed-bag flavor of Protestant, but that doesn't stop me from loving the idea of baking up some commemorative tea cakes around Halloween and All Saints' Day, which we could enjoy while reflecting on the lives of those loved ones we'd lost in the last year.

These paleo-fied soul cakes have a hearty coconut flour shortbread, and a bittersweet chocolate base with cranberries, cacao nibs, and sliced almonds. A single cake is very rich. I chose bittersweet chocolate to signify the bittersweetness that comes with remembering loved ones gone - but you could chose a sweeter chocolate depending on the tastes of your crowd.

I have a palate that appreciates rich but not sweet desserts - thus I enjoy that the shortbread itself is not super sweet, but is still offset by the sweeter trail mixy chocolate base. You could sweeten the shortbread additionally to taste with palm sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste if you prefer sweeter treats. These would go very well with a cup or raw milk, or coffee, or tea.

The basic coconut flour shortbread is adapted from Eat the Cookie's version.

Grain Free Gluten Free Soul Cakes
Makes 12-18 cakes, depending on thickness

Ingredients (shortbread):
1 3/4 cups sifted coconut flour (If you don't have a sifter you can gently spoon/shake the flour into the measuring cup)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup room temperature butter (for dairy-free you could sub coconut oil here, making a total of 3/4 c. coconut oil)
1/4 cup soft coconut oil
1/2 cup palm sugar (or other natural sweetener of choice; add more if you'd like your cakes sweeter)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Note: You can adapt this with whatever trail mixy-items of dried fruit and nuts that you happen to have around.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a spray olive oil (or softened butter or coconut oil), lightly grease silicone baking cups. (I used round silicone muffin cups, like the ones available here, and also the Wilton pumpkin / leaf silicone cups, available here.)

Combine the flour, the salt, and the baking soda thoroughly in one small bowl - if necessary, use your fingertips to crush any clumps of coconut flour. In a separate larger bowl, cream the butter, coconut oil, and palm sugar together - and then mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the apple cider vinegar and the vanilla extract. Add the dry flour mix to the wet mix and combine thoroughly.

Press the dough into the greased silicone cups at desired thickness. Press a few slivers of almond and cacao nibs into the dough. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Once you pull the cups out of the oven, warm:

1 tbsp. butter (you could sub coconut oil)
1 tbps. heavy cream (you could sub coconut cream concentrate)
1 standard size bag bittersweet chocolate chips (go for quality)

...for 2 minutes and half power in the microwave. (You can also melt everything in a double boiler, though that may take a while longer.) Mix the ingredients with a spoon until the chocolate melts into a smooth ganache, and spread the chocolate over the shortbread in the silicone cups. Press some dried cranberries into the ganache.

Allow the shortbread and chocolate to cool.


Gently push the silicone cups from the bottom to release the shortbreads from the cups. Put the shortbreads chocolate/cranberry-side down on a clean paper towel or wax paper.

If desired, use the melted bittersweet chocolate to also decorate the tops of the cakes. One of my little tricks for drawing in melted chocolate is to use a sanitized medicine dropper - I find it affords a lot more fine motor control than would a traditional frosting decor bag and screw-on tip.

Here, I drew a cross shape in the chocolate and added cranberries on the top of the round cakes. For the pumpkin and leaf cakes I traced the lines.

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  1. I'm not much for super sweet desserts either, so these are right up my alley! What a great version of Soul Cakes!!


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