I don’t make a lot of chocolate treats, because I don’t eat the stuff myself and it’s hard for me to serve something without taste-testing it firsthand. But, my seven year old just had a birthday and requested chocolate cupcakes for his school birthday treat, so what was I to do? I now had two internal conflicts. First, the aforementioned serving without tasting issue, But, even more critical than that, I do not believe in serving unhealthy snacks to children, or anyone else for that matter. No, not even for birthdays. I mean, treats, fine, but I stand firm to my belief that all food should have some balance and nutritional merit, even if it’s a treat, even if it’s a birthday, even if it’s a vacation…you get the picture. In the end, chocolate cake it was, because I am a total sucker for my children. So, I set off to find the perfect chocolate cake that 24 first graders would enjoy, and that I could live with. I used freshly ground sprouted buckwheat and quinoa flours, but using standard buckwheat and quinoa flours will work fine. I added cinnamon because it’s a good blood sugar regulator, plus some almond butter and hemp seeds for a little protein and healthy fat to help balance out the sugar. I used brown rice syrup and grade B maple syrup for the sweeteners – brown rice syrup because it’s richer in complex carbohydrates than other sweeteners and is absorbed more slowly in the bloodstream, and grade B maple syrup because it retains more minerals than grade A, has a richer flavor, and just tastes delicious.
The cupcakes were a hit, then we made it in cake form for the actual birthday party. Kids who have made it quite clear in the past that they “don’t do gluten free” gobbled it right down and asked for more, so I would say this recipe is a keeper! We frosted it with chocolate frosting and sprinkles per the birthday boy’s request, then had some cupcakes with vanilla frosting on the side, but as with any cake, there are many other options. Be creative and enjoy!
This recipe makes 2 8-inch layers, one 11×7 rectangular pan, 12 cupcakes, or 24 mini-cupcakes
- ¾ cup buckwheat flour
- ¾ cup quinoa flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup macadamia nut or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 Tablespoons flax seed, ground
- 1 1/2 cups hemp milk*, or as needed
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ cup dark chocolate chips, optional
- Frosting of your choice, optional
- Sliced or crushed almonds for garnish, optional
*to make hemp milk, blend ½ cup hemp seeds with about 1 cup water until smooth; depending on the flours you use, you may need additional liquid, so if you might have another use for hemp milk in the next day or two, make a little extra. If not, you can use water to thin as needed.
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat your baking pan(s) with coconut oil, or line with muffin papers or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix almond butter, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and coconut oil until smooth, heating gently over a pot of hot water if necessary. Stir in vanilla, flax seed, and hemp milk. Gently mix in the flour mixture about a third at a time, adding more hemp milk or water if necessary to form a smooth, pourable batter. Fold in the chocolate chips. Gently, but thoroughly, stir in the apple cider vinegar (it will start to bubble – this is good; it’s the acidic vinegar reacting with the leaveners to create the bubbles to make it rise) and immediately pour into prepared pans. Bake until center is firm; approximate baking times follow, but please watch carefully as they can vary from oven to oven:
20-25 minutes for 2 9 inch rounds
30-35 minutes for 11×7 rectangle
15-17 minutes for cupcakes
12-15 minutes for mini-cupcakes
Cool completely before removing from pans/frosting. Enjoy!