So I have a confession to make. This delectable looking confection that you see in the photo above was a complete and utter failure. I had set out to make a dense fudgy gluten-free brownie, but somewhere along the line, my calculations went awry and I ended up with this disappointment.
It all started off well, after mixing everything together, I had a rich velvety batter with a dark chocolate brown hue. A few minutes in the oven, and my apartment was brimming with the aromas of chocolate and butter and I could almost taste the dense brownie melting on my tongue. But after 25 minutes, I opened the door, crestfallen to find a cake that had almost doubled in height. A brownie this was not.
By the time I’d worked my way through the five stages of grief, my maverick cake had cooled, and I decided to have a bite. Cutting into it, I was greeted by a spongy uniform crumb that literally glistened with moisture. It wasn’t a brownie to be sure, but it sure looked a lot like a chocolate cake!
Ultra-moist, with a fine crumb and intense chocolate flavor, this gluten-free chocolate cake is delicious on its own, but slathered with a maple cream cheese frosting, it’s divine. What’s most remarkable though is the fact that there is no flour (wheat or otherwise) in this cake.
The starch comes from sweet potatoes, making it gluten-free, and since sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins A and C, fiber, calcium and iron, it’s certainly more nutritious than your average chocolate cake. Better yet, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and are good at retaining moisture. This means you can get away with using less sugar and butter while still getting a rich, sweet chocolate cake.
I used Japanese sweet potatoes, which are characterized by their ruby red skin and sweet yellow flesh. With a lower moisture content and higher starch content than the orange fleshed variety, these sweet potatoes are perfect for baked goods. I’ve seen them at farmers markets, Whole Foods and Fresh Direct, but if you can’t find them at your local supermarket, try visiting an Asian grocery store.
This chocolate cake is so good and easy to make, it’s become a staple in my kitchen, and I’ve even used it as the base for a birthday cake. Layered with whipped cream, and covered in a rich ganache it’s hard to believe that it all started with a mistake.
- Line an 8" x 8" square cake pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
- Peel the sweet potato and then grate it into a blender along with the eggs, melted butter, sugar, coco powder, vanilla and salt. Blend until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
- Add the baking powder and blend until just combined (don't overmix). The baking powder leavens the batter helping it to rise but if you over mix it all the of the leavening powder will be used up before your brownie makes it into the oven.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan, flatten off the top and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (30-40 minutes).
- Let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack and then remove the pan, allowing the cake to cool completely.
- For the frosting just whisk together the cream cheese, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth, and spread it on top.
Don't use orange fleshed sweet potatoes (also sometimes called yams) for this recipe. They have too much moisture and not enough starch and will not set.