Black Russian Coffee Cake
*This Black Russian Coffee Cake is gluten-free, starch-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar-free.*
Those who remember their cocktails would know that Black Russian is a vodka and Kahlúa beverage. Although I am allergic to alcohol, I’ve done my share of “practicing” in the past, with the hopes that I can train my body to get over the reaction, or to gain some resistance to some degree. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. But lucky for me, I’ve had the chance to taste many different drinks before I, finally, 100% gave up on that! Needless to say, I became the official designated driver to all my friends!
Because my entire life I couldn’t drink, I found another way around this doomed situation: I would cook and bake with alcohol instead – wine, spirits, liquors, liqueurs, eau de vies, you name it! Cooking and baking evaporates the alcohol component, thus leaving a sweet, boozy base flavour that I like . You’ll be surprised that for a non-drinker such as me, I have a big liquor cabinet!
Today’s recipe is a throwback to that half a lowball glass of Black Russian I tried way back when. Since I’ve gone Paleo for now – cutting out gluten, starches, refined sugars, and processed foods – this cake is a “legal” or acceptable treat for those who are following the Paleolithic Diet or SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). Note: For SCD, just replace the chestnut flour with same amount of almond flour or coconut flour. Well, the good news is, even if you are not on a strict, medically-indicated diet, you’ll still love this!
I’ll explain. First, the main ingredient of a Black Russian – vodka. Vodka comes from distilling either plant matter like grains (corn, rye, wheat), potatoes, or fruits. Obviously, when on a strict eating / health regime, it is ideal to avoid all kinds of alcohol. But realistically, it’s nice to have a drink occasionally. If you are questioning if vodka is Paleo-friendly, many of the trusted websites I’ve read says it is generally OK to consume vodka (since it is distilled and that means no gluten remains), and preferably if they are made from potatoes or fruits. As for SCD, vodka is allowable as a treat as well.
Now to the other half of the Black Russian – Kahlúa. Kahlúa is a liqueur, so that means it contains sugar, vanilla, and sometimes corn syrup. Not recommended for Paleo nor SCD. So, instead of using Kahlúa for my recipe, I used good old, plain brewed coffee. Now, you can mix rum to the coffee to approximate Kahlúa, but rum is on the list of alcohol that are “ok-but-drink-at-your-own-risk” for Paleo and SCD.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong in allowing yourself a treat here or there, whether or not you are in a strict diet plan or not. I mean, to me, it’s not all about depriving myself, but just clawing back. And if you are making a sweet treat, why not make it a “better” sweet treat by using ingredients that are gluten-free, starch-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar-free, if possible – like this cake!
I love this Black Russian Coffee Cake because it tastes just like a cake made with regular wheat flour. I was actually very shocked at the result! You’ll see on the recipe below that I used almond meal / flour (which I love, by the way) and a little bit of chestnut flour to round it out. I can’t believe it surpassed my expectations – it’s a soft, moist cake with chocolate and coffee overtones, and boozy, nutty background notes.
The cake is mild enough for kids as well (I fed it to mine), so have no fear serving it to the little ones – so long as they do not have nut allergies!
- 200 grams (2 cups) blanched almond flour / meal
- 25 grams (1/4 cup) chestnut flour
- 32 grams (4 tablespoons) all-natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 8 grams (2 tablespoons) espresso powder
- 14 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder, sifted
- 3 grams (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 355 ml (1-1/2 cups) raw honey
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons / 3 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) vodka, preferably distilled from potatoes or fruit (if you have grain allergies)
- 30 ml (1/8 cup) brewed coffee, not instant*
- 30 ml (1/8 cup) light or golden rum (optional)*
- starch-free icing sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease a 7-inch or 8-inch bundt pan or 20 of your choice of brioche tins.
- In a large bowl, mix together almond flour, chestnut flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium low until it is soft, about 1 minute.
- Add honey and vanilla, and beat on medium-low for another 2 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients to wet and beat on medium until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat each time for 30 seconds before adding the next egg. Do not overbeat at this point.
- Then, stir in vodka, coffee, and rum (if using), mixing until just combined.
- Optional step: Chill batter in refrigerator, covered, for at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan or brioche tins. I used 2-3/4" and 3-1/2" brioche tins. For the 2-3/4", I put 34 grams of batter; for the 3-1/2, 50 grams of batter.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are set and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan or brioche tins for 20 minutes, then invert on to a wire rack and cool for another 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle with starch-free icing sugar (if using).
- Pour batter into prepared