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Hayley’s “Paleo” Birthday Cake | German Chocolate Torte

Another year, another birthday. Today I (Hayley) turn 26. Relatively speaking, yes, I know that is young. However, that doesn’t mean that I feel ready, or even excited to turn 26. There are many more things that have happened this year that are far more worthy of celebration than me turning one year older. In all honesty, a day of celebrating “me” isn’t really my idea of fun anyway. 25 was a great year for me, and the end of my 25th year was celebrated by Bill and I publishing a book, which was an amazing gift all in it’s own right. Being able to celebrate food, and health, create art work out of it, and be able to share it with the world is something I never dreamt I would be given the opportunity to do.
Now, of course being the paleo foodie/health fanatic/over-analyst of my own behaviors around food, I came up with a bit of a “birthday challenge” for myself, which definitely took Bill by surprise. After getting back from Los Angeles, and with the stress of getting the book off to print, we let our diets slip once again (FAILEO). Too much dried fruit and raw nuts, too much dark chocolate, and more indulgence in alcohol than we usually allow for ourselves, considering we rarely have a drink more than once a month. After spending the month of July extremely clean (I did not touch one raw nut, or piece of fruit), I was really able to see how even one bite of dark chocolate really spikes my sugar cravings, and makes it really hard to go back to avoiding it. This of course just starts a mental battle in my head of wanting it, letting myself have it, and then hating myself for it. Bill has similar feelings regarding sugar, however since he is a boy who has never had emotional issues with food, he just recognizes that he doesn’t feel as well when he eats it, and he has more cravings for it. He (unlike me) doesn’t beat himself up about it.
My challenge for myself is to give up sugar completely for an entire year. When I told this to Bill he almost wrecked the car (we were driving). Now, at first glance this may seem extreme, but I have good reasoning behind it, and here it is:
1. Sugar is not part of the paleo diet anyway.
2. Sugar makes me feel awful, gives me anxiety, and makes me depressed.
3. Sugar makes me eat more sugar.
4. No matter how long I go without sugar, the moment I indulge in it again, I want more and more of it.
5. Sugar is not part of the paleo diet… did I mention this one already?
Sugar is addictive. I don’t care where the sugar source is coming from, whether it is a candy bar, or a date, it is addictive. I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that I’m doing something beneficial by eating a few dates and pecans rather than peanut m&m;’s. Now, is dried fruit a better option than an ice cream cone, yes, but it is going to make me crave more sugar, just like any other dessert. I do think that every person is different, and maybe others have more self control than I do, but I know that I look/feel/perform/and most importantly think much better when those “paleo approved” foods are not part of the equation. I also know my body well enough that going one month without it is not enough. I need to get to the place where I choose to feel good, rather than taste something good, without having to talk myself out of the sweet stuff. I have done this with processed foods, artificial sweeteners, grains, and gum, and I have complete confidence that I will do it with sugar as well.
I came to this exact same crossroads in December with gum. Gum was my sugar fix, I would chew a ton of it to try to keep myself from eating something sweet. The end result was a sore jaw, and a strong feeling of disappointment in myself for eating so much artificial sugar. It wasn’t the act of eating gum that upset me, it was the intention behind it. I wasn’t just chewing a piece to freshen my breath, I was chewing it to the point where my jaw got sore because I wanted to taste something sweet. Bad news bears. In December I decided that “was NOT who I am”, so I pitched the gum, went through a few weeks of craving it, and then it went away. It’s been 8 months, and I could care less if I ever see gum again. The end. I made that sound fairly simple, it wasn’t that easy. Some things have been easier for me to get rid of in my diet, and some have been harder (you couldn’t pay me enough to take a bite of grains, but sugar?) Sugar is always hard for me, and no matter how long I give it up, the moment it touches my lips again, the roller coaster ride starts all over. So, what do we always say about this lifestyle? If you don’t feel good when you eat it, you shouldn’t be eating it-right? Well I’m finally going to take the hint that my body and mind have been trying to tell me for years.
SO, with all of that in mind, I bring you to todays post, cake! Haha. I’m really not a fan of “last meals”, because I think that puts the wrong energy out there for what you are trying to accomplish. However, it was my birthday, and Bill being the amazing man he is decided he was going to support me and do the no sugar thing for a year also (which is not so easy for him either-we are pretty much the same person, except he’s not OCD with food). Bill’s birthday isn’t until November, and I felt pretty bad that he would be missing a cake because of my crazy challenge (I guess it’s his fault for opting to do it with me!) I figured we might as well make a cake worthy of TWO birthday celebrations, and end the treat posts on the blog with a bang! We had mentioned wanting to make a German Chocolate Cake for our book, Make it Paleo, and we never got around to it. I didn’t really want to make something extremely complicated, so on our way to Whole Foods, I figured out a recipe that would have all the flavors of German Chocolate Cake, but was simple to make.
So before I give you all the recipe, I will add this. When eating this dessert, or any dessert when following a healthy lifestyle, do not proceed unless you have the right intentions with it. Indulge because you simply want to, not because something else is bothering you and you are looking to the “good stuff” to fix it. Even more importantly, allow yourself to enjoy it. This is something that I am always missing. If you let yourself have it, at least allow yourself to enjoy it.
[Ingredients]
  • Chocolate torte
    • 6 eggs
    • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
    • 1/2 cup pasture butter, melted
    • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup coconut flour
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Chocolate ganache
    • 1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
    • 2 heaping tablespoons palm shortening.
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Whipped heavy cream and flaked coconut frosting
    • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

[Process]
Chocolate Torte
  1. Preheat oven to bake at 350.
  2. In a large mixing bow, combine eggs, maple syrup, pasture butter, and vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda to the bowl, and continue to blend until batter is smooth.
  4. Lightly grease a spring-form cake pan with butter, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
  5. Pour batter into the pan, and smooth the top with a spatula (this is a thick batter, so you will have to work with it slightly.)
  6. Bake chocolate cake for 30-35 minutes, and remove from oven to cool.
Chocolate Ganache
  1. Melt chocolate chips on low heat, stirring often.
  2. When chocolate is completely melted, add in the palm shortening, and stir until all is combined.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Whipped Cream Frosting
  1. Whip heavy cream in a kitchen mixer until stiff and fluffy.
  2. Fold in the coconut flakes.
Final Cake Assembly
  1. Once the cake has cooled, remove from pan and place on a platter.
  2. Slowly pour the cooled ganache over the cake.
  3. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  4. Place the cake in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to harden the ganache, while you make the whipped frosting.
  5. Remove cake from fridge, and top with the whipped frosting.
  6. Garnish with a drizzle of left over ganache if desired.
  7. Keep refrigerated until served.
This cake was definitely worthy of two (or more) birthday celebrations. It was absolutely delicious, and definitely made me not want sugar for a LONG time. Proceed with caution on this one, and make sure you have many people to share it with…
As always, enjoy!
Past Birthday Cakes
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COMMENTS

  1. September 1, 2011

    For those who don't think they trust themselves enough to have a WHOLE cake in the house (my hand is up!), here's a smalled-down version that should make two large, or three medium cupcakes. Yum!

    Chocolate torte
    * 1 egg
    * 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp pure maple syrup
    * 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp pasture butter, melted
    * drop of pure vanilla extract
    * 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut flour
    * 2 tsp cocoa powder
    * pinch of salt
    * large pinch of baking soda

    Chocolate ganache
    * 3 Tbsp Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
    * 2 tsp palm shortening.
    * 3 tbsp chopped pecans

    Whipped heavy cream and flaked coconut frosting
    * 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
    * 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp unsweetened coconut flakes

    Use the same method as above, but pour into cupcake tray and cook for 18 – 22 minutes. Be aware that this batter will stick furiously to the sides, so grease the walls of your cupcake tray well, or use cupcake liners for easy removal.

  2. September 1, 2011

    Wow, that looks ah-ha-may-zing! :o) Good luck on your no-sugar year! I will be really curious to follow what the holiday season looks like for you guy.

  3. September 1, 2011

    Hi Hayley! You guys have wonderful recipes! I've already made your paleo noatmeal cookies with some of my own adaptations- they were awesome! going sugar free is hard for like, three weeks and then you don't even care. good luck! can't wait to read about it!

  4. September 1, 2011

    Congratulations! Happy Birthday!
    Many more to come …

  5. September 1, 2011

    I've just completed by first 30 days of Paleo and I too have noticed that I have been replacing gum as my sweet treat. I love fruit it is so hard to kick anything sweet! I will have to save this recipe for a special day. Happy Birthday to you!

  6. September 1, 2011

    Happy Birthday! What a way to go out. I love the part where you said that Bill is a guy and can just identify that he feels better without it. So, so true.

    I noticed that this past week or so, when I was living off of what was left in my pantry and fridge and I was all out of raisins and almonds, how much I craved something sweet during my usual "dessert time". Sugar definitely begets the desire for more sugar.

    Looking forward to seeing how it goes!

  7. September 1, 2011

    I can't WAIT to make this! German chocolate is my husband's favorite kind of cake! This looks amazing. Love you both so much for everything you do for the Paleo foodie. HUGS!!!

  8. September 1, 2011

    Awesome! I just made the same decision a few days ago (to give up sugar for one year) and so far its going great. I too was getting a little loose with the terms of my "paleo" diet, eating corn chips, chocolate, and pretty much anything else.

    Also, if I slip up, the year starts over. Now that is incentive!

  9. September 1, 2011

    You two sound a lot like me and my husband. I beat myself up about stuff and he is very matter-of-fact. :) I can't do sugar either or there are consequences. I've been considering a similar quest myself and I may just join you on the no-sugar thing. Thank you for inspiring!

  10. September 4, 2011

    Ah, I'm excited! This no-sugar world can get pretty lonely – everyone thinks I'm a freak! But I came to the same conclusion this year about myself. I think it's just undeniable that I'm more anxious when I eat sugar. It's incredibly obvious and, in addition to that taking a toll on your body, your relationships and career suffer for it. I couldn't believe how much more productive and clever I was at work once I stopped eating sugar. Anyway, now I'm gonna love your blog even more!

  11. September 8, 2011

    This was the slap in the face I needed right now!

    You sounded just like me in that post. I have a love/hate relationship with sugar too and managed to go without it for 8 whole months… the second I let it pass my lips again I was hooked and I have been in a battle with myself ever since. I think I am going to take a leaf out of your book and give up sugar too.

    I have a question though, what do you snack on if not fruit (which is full of sugar)? Any ideas? Fruit is so convenient and easy and yummy!

  12. September 8, 2011

    I have to echo what the above person said. I go all or nothing it seems when it comes to sugar. I get so frustrated with myself too when I can't seem to control the cravings. I've been going through some pretty crazy withdrawal symptoms though. Any advice on how to get through those? I, too, like fruit! Thanks for your blog, your recipes and your encouragement! Keep it up!

  13. September 9, 2011

    Made this and your chocolate chip cookies yesterday for my guys surprise 30th. Huge hit. One question though… I expected the ganche to be a soft-creamy addition to the final cake but it hardened in the fridge and was more like a candy shell… did I do something wrong?

    Thanks for all your trailblazing in the paleo world.. can't wait for your book to arrive :D

  14. September 14, 2011

    Hi Meg,

    you didn't do anything wrong, ganache should be like a hardened chocolate shell over the cake.

  15. September 14, 2011

    Hi Cassie,

    Drinking A LOT of water really helps me. I don't get as hungry, or crave as much. Also keeping my meals mostly fat and protein with some green veggies helps too. Anything sweet really sets off my sweet tooth and cravings. Hope that helps!

  16. September 25, 2011

    We made this for non-paleo friends for a dinner party tonight – super huge delighted rave reviews. Thank you for sharing! This was my first grain free baking since we've gone primal a year or so ago…I wasn't sure what to expect – thank you!!

  17. October 5, 2011

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for the fabulous recipe! I made it this week for my husband's 32nd and we LOVED it – the kids gobbled it up, as well! I did have a question, though. My batter wasn't thick AT ALL! It was, in fact, so runny that some leaked out of the spring form seam and turned into a smoking, black mountain on the bottom of the oven. What did I do wrong? I checked and rechecked the ingredients and measurements. It was my first foray using coconut flour. Again, the cake was DELICIOUS, just a runny batter here in beautiful Seoul, ROK. Thanks!
    ~Mary

  18. November 10, 2011

    This cake looks amazing! I would love to do this.

    Year Old Birthday Party Ideas

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