Lily's Mint Chocolate + Pomegranate Cake - gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free

Since I can remember, I've always had a sweet tooth. As I child I would carefully ration out my Halloween candy to last throughout the year. I liked them all--dum dums, tootsie rolls, and even smarties. But my favorites were anything with chocolate. Those would always disappear first. 

Now that I'm older and much more conscious about the food I consume, those childhood chocolate bars are far and few between. Luckily I recently learned about Lily's, a chocolate bar company with no sugar added and instead sweetened with stevia. In the past I hadn't enjoyed stevia sweetened treats as they tended to have a strange aftertaste. So naturally I was apprehensive when I first tried Lily's, but to my surprise there was no odd flavor but instead an honestly delicious chocolate bar! 

Lily's recently came out with a stevia sweetened baking bar and asked me to try it out, so I came up with this mint chocolate and pomegranate cake. The baking bar melted, baked and even made chocolate curls like a dream, without a hint that this cake was baked without any refined sugar. As a plus, it's also gluten free and dairy free to fit a variety of dietary restrictions.

Mint Chocolate + Pomegranate Cake
gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free

1/2 cup oil, such as olive or coconut
1/2 cup Lily's chocolate baking bar, chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut nectar
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup almond milk
3-4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves roughly torn
mint chocolate ganache (recipe below)
fresh pomegranate seeds
fresh mint for garnish
Lily's chocolate baking bar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 6"  (3" tall) round pan by greasing bottom and sides with oil and lining bottom with parchment paper. 

In a small saucepan, infuse almond milk with fresh mint leaves over medium low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove mint leaves and add Lily's baking bar chocolate and oil, mixing occasionally with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, buckwheat flour, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, whisk eggs and coconut nectar on medium-high speed until thickened and pale, about 6-8 minutes. With a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 dry ingredients until just incorporated, then pour 1/2 chocolate mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat process, ending with dry ingredients. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Let cool for 10 minutes then invert on wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, place cake on plate or stand, then immediately pour ganache while still warm. Use an offset spatula to gently smooth ganache to drip over the edges. Top with sprigs of fresh mint and pomegranate seeds. To finish, use a vegetable peeler to create curls of Lily's chocolate baking bar to garnish the cake. 

Chocolate Mint Ganache

2 sprigs of fresh mint
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup Lily's baking bar, chopped
2 tbsp oil, such as olive or coconut

In a small saucepan, infuse almond milk with fresh mint leaves over medium low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove leaves, then add Lily's baking bar chocolate and oil, mixing occasionally with a rubber spatula until smooth. Use immediately.

California Made: A Holiday Market

Next Saturday, November 14, I will be participating in California Made: a holiday market in Downtown LA. I'll have cake by the slice available and a couple other surprises!


Paper Pastries - rubber stamps, stationery, and supplies
Le Petit Elefant - prints, buttons, stickers, stationery
Homako - handmade fabric and felt jewelry
Paper & Type - stationery and writing supplies
Matchbox Kitchen - cake shop

Live music by The Cheeky Few, refreshments, specials, and a chance to win our giveaway! 

More details and RSVP here.
Follow @californiamade on instagram

Poketo Cake Basics Class

I recently taught my cake basics class with Poketo at The Line Hotel! The hotel was such a beautiful place for my class and working with Poketo was a lot of fun. A special thank you to Lisa for all your help!

The class was structured similarly to my previous cake basics classes. We went over how to make a chocolate cake, such as how to know when you've creamed the butter and sugar enough and how to check when a cake is done baking. Next was learning how to make swiss meringue buttercream. Lastly, each student learned to torte and assemble their own naked cake and finished them off by decorating with fresh organic fruit and edible flowers and herbs. 

An example of the type of cake we were going to make in class. Students could leave the sides completely exposed or "semi naked", as shown below.

photo: lisa kwon

photo: lisa kwon

Demonstrating a crumb coat naked cake frosting style. Those small offset spatulas sure come in handy for a 6" cake.

cake and photo: @Littlesparkjess

cake and photo: @Littlesparkjess

A finished cake by one of my students, Jess. I love the green herb leaves on the sides!

Photo: lisa kwon

Photo: lisa kwon

Students concentrating on assembling and frosting their cakes. There were 22 students in my class, and each and every one did an excellent job!

Cake: @llee52 

Cake: @llee52 

The final product by Lydia, finished off with beautiful edible flowers and fresh fruit from Farm Box LA. We set up a makeshift photoshoot area, which I think all my classes should have from now on!

Fresh berries from Farm Box LA and edible flowers and flowering herbs (not pictured). 

Farm Box LA kindly provided fresh fruit for the students to decorate their cakes with. We had a variety of delicious berries fresh from the farmers market, and they also generously gifted everyone with a goodie bag of delicious stone fruit and a coupon for their first order! 


All students also went home with a goodie bag filled with treats from some of my favorite companies!

QUIN Candy
Dreams Come Chew - these are so good. They are similar to starbursts except about 100x better, with seriously delicious flavors, only a handful of ingredients, and no artificial colors or flavors. QUIN makes real, classic candy without all the weird stuff.

I purchased my own cuppow several years ago and use it all the time! A simple lid made of recycled (and recyclable!) plastic turns a mason jar into a portable drinking cup. I'm so happy everyone got to take one home and hopefully decrease their reliance of single use cups and straws. 

Knot & Bow
It's surprisingly hard to find beautiful, elegant candles for birthday cakes, so when I discovered Knot & Bow offered these slender beeswax candles I knew they would be the perfect pairing with an understated naked cake. 

Hands down my favorite spatula. They are made of one single piece of silicone which means no parts for water to get into, no separate parts to wash, no moldy wooden handles. If you have a spatula that separates the top from the handle, go take it apart and see what's lurking inside. I also love that they come in a variety of fun colors and sizes! The skinny is my favorite for getting the last bits in small jars. 

Cotton & Flax
In addition to beautiful home textiles, Cotton & Flax recently released a series of small notebooks screenprinted with their patterns. Its pocket size is perfect to put in your handbag or leave in your car for last minute note taking! I also have a few of tea towels that I love so much. 

Ann Shen
A sweet card with Ann's signature illustration style. Each student received the perfectly fitting Happy Cake card. She's also got a lot of other art, prints, and cards in her shop. One of my favorites is her Study of Ice Cream print.

Cali Water
Wild prickly pear cactus water, non GMO, low in sugar, and filled with naturally occuring electrolytes and antioxidants. This was so refreshing to drink while I was teaching the class. I don't like drinking water (I know I should!) but Cali Water has just enough of a light sweetness and flavor that made it enjoyable to drink without resorting to something filled with sugar. 

More cake classes are coming soon, and will be traveling across the US (and perhaps the world?) Want me to come to your city? Leave a comment and let me know where I should visit next. 

Recipe: Strawberry Tres Leches Cake

This is a great cake for the summer as it highlights strawberries at their peak, as well as being a light and refreshing dessert. I used gaviotas and strongly recommend using smaller, sweet berries fresh from the farmers market rather than the giants you find at a grocery store.

Strawberry Tres Leches Cake (6" round, serves 6-8)

Chiffon Cake
2/3 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 6" round, 3" tall cake pan by greasing and flouring all sides. Line bottom with parchment.
Whisk flour, baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
With a hand or stand mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add 2 tbsp of the sugar and whisk until firm peaks form. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk oil, water, egg yolks, and the remaining sugar until mixture has lightened and thickened, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix in dry ingredients until there are no dry patches. Fold in egg whites one third at a time until no streaks remain. Do not overmix or deflate egg whites. 
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, then run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter to loosen the cake from the pan. Invert onto cooling rack and let cool completely. 

Milk Soak
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup heavy cream

Mix all together in a medium bowl and set aside until assembly. 

Strawberry Pastry Cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp gelatin
1 tbsp water
1/3 cup strawberry puree (see below)

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tbsp water and set aside to bloom. In a medium saucepan warm milk over medium-high heat until steaming but not boiling. In a separate bowl, whisk together corn starch, sugar, and salt, then add egg and whisk until smooth. When milk is steaming (but not boiling!) add about one third of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Pour egg/milk mixture back into saucepan and continue to whisk until a thickened custard has formed. To know if it’s ready, a few bubbles should being to pop at the surface. Remove from heat, then add butter and whisk until smooth. Add strawberry puree and whisk until smooth. Lastly, add gelatin and whisk until fully incorporated and no lumps remain. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream so a skin does not form, and refrigerate until completely cool.

Strawberry Puree
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped and hulled
1 tbsp sugar

In a small saucepan, add chopped strawberries and sugar. Cook down over medium heat while mashing to release juices until sugar has dissolved. Pour into a blender and puree until smooth, then pour through a strainer to remove seeds. Set aside. 

components above plus:
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped to medium peaks
fresh, whole strawberries

Carefully cut chiffon cake into three even layers. 
Place bottom layer of chiffon cake onto a cake plate or stand. Generously brush (or pour if you are careful) one third of the milk mixture evenly onto the cake layer. Let the milk fully soak in, then with a piping bag or offset spatula, scoop one half of the pastry cream onto the cake and gently smooth to the edge. Repeat process with the middle layer. Add the top layer of cake and poke some holes to aid in the final milk mixture to soak in. Top off with whipped cream, whole strawberries, and a drizzle of the remaining strawberry puree.