Monday, February 28, 2011

Chocolate Cake Makes the Blues More of a Gray

I fell out of writing the blog for a while. To be perfectly honest, I fell into a funk of interesting proportions. The kind that leaves you somewhat comatose and mentally listless. Why? Well, I'm sick. The doctors said Fibromyalgia initially, but landed on MS ultimately. I have, thus far, refused to lay down and just be the sick girl. (Yes, I said girl. I don't ever see a situation where I wouldn't consider myself a girl. Insert playful, impish My ego won't allow it. I am embarrassed by the woeful looks I get once and a while by the people around me who know my condition. I don't like it. Not at all. In fact, I get a bit angry. Even though I know it is all well-meaning and stemming from their love for me, I just don't want to be physically vulnerable, ever.  But, I'm tired.  I'm tired of the constant pain.  It's enough already.  Why can't this be enough already?
During this time I felt defeated.  Depleted.  Sad.  There's no way to effectively describe  depression to someone who has never experienced it before.   If you've never felt that sinking, hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, you just won't get it.
 Even Andy, my ever-loving husband, became a bit frustrated with me. Inevitably, we went through the fight-sorrow-reconcile routine and came out the other end with more understanding of the others' point of view.  Andy, like a lot of men, wants to just be able to "fix" it and pull me out of my depression and for that to be the end of it.  I admit, albeit reluctantly, that having to see me sleeping all of the time, totally unmotivated to do even the simplest of tasks, not to mention the crying jags, must get very old for him. I'm so lucky that he is the man in my life because Andy possesses an unbelievable cache of patience.  I think he got mine because patience is barely even in my vocabulary. We are like puzzle pieces.  We fit.  And I am forever grateful because without him I would be a shallower version of myself and he claims without me he would never be as motivated regarding his business.  Ironic, I know, since I am not at all motivated lately in my own skin to the point of not even wanting to shower!

As happens in life, an event such as a birthday, forces you to sit up and wipe the sleep out of your eyes.  If someone you love is having a birthday it forces you to engage.  Especially a birthday in which a chocolate cake will be invited.  My mother-in-law had a birthday recently and I just love her and love  having people over and making food for them.  It gives me a platform to display my love for them.   I especially love to serve a yummy dessert.  So I needed to get off of my ass and bitch-slap the depression into the past tense. So I did.  I invited all the players and put a birthday party together, chocolate cake a must!

It just so happens my mother and father -in-law are both diabetic so I felt obligated to adapt my menu accordingly.  I certainly am not going to be the reason for a diabetic coma!  So, I came up with this Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Gluten-free Orange Chocolate Cake.  With this many pre-descriptors in the title you may wonder if it could taste okay.  It does.  It is moist and full of chocolate goodness.   I had to throw in the orange because chocolate and orange are a team inside of a cake.  They should not be apart.  That's just an opinion, of course, but trust me, they belong together like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, and me and my Andy.  Apart, each item is good, solid even.  But together they shine and become more than anyone would think they could.  Of course, in this recipe you could leave the orange out if you so choose and it will still be an amazing Chocolate Birthday Cake.  And set up with the obligatory candles,  your Chocolate Birthday Cake will  be all dressed up and ready to WOW!

                          Orange Chocolate Cake
2 Tbs instant espresso powder
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cold water
2 Tbs gluten-free vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temp
zest of 2 oranges
juice of those 2 oranges
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups gluten-free baking mix (see author's note)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups blended palm sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray grease 2, 8-inch round baking pans and line with parchment paper, then spray the paper.  In a small bowl dissolve the espresso powder with the boiling water. Set aside and let cool.
In a medium bowl whisk together the gluten free baking mix, cocoa powder, palm sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl with the cooled espresso powder, add the remaining ingredients; cold water, vanilla vegetable oil, zest and juices from the oranges, and the applesauce.  Whisk until combined.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined.
Pour the chocolaty batter evenly into prepared pans.  Gently tap each pan on a counter top to burst any lingering air bubbles.  Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake pulls away from the edges and thee top is springy to the touch.  When finished,  place on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes then take the cakes out of the pans and place on the cooling rack to finish cooling.

Author's Note*

Gluten-free Baking Mix Recipe

6 cups White Rice Flour
3 cups Tapioca Starch
1 cup Potato Starch
1/2 cup Sweet Rice Flour
2 Tbs xanthan gum

Place all ingredients into large mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes about 10 cups. 

Sugar-Free White Frosting

1 cup all-vegetable shortening
1 cup agave
2 tsp gluten-free vanilla
4 tsp orange extract

Blend all ingredients together in a stand mixer or by using a hand mixer until fluffy.  Place in fridge until the frosting is cool enough to spread.  If you wanted to make chocolate frosting, you should add 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Assembling the cake....

Place one of the cooled cake rounds flat side up onto a cake stand or plate. Frost the top generously then stack the other cake round flat side down on top of the frosting.  Frost the entire cake.  If the frosting begins to loosen up too much to spread, just place it in the fridge to cool down



  1. I want to thank my wonderful wife for such kind words, and I advise anyone who love's chocolate cake try this one you cannot tell the difference.

  2. Loved, Loved this cake!!! So moist and fluffy!!! I feel like I am no longer missing out on the unhealthy cakes!! Danna, you just let me know when you want to open an Café I will gladly go in with you!!! You are amazing!

  3. Hi Danna - I came over to have a look at your site after reading your comment about my Squash Cake. I noticed your comment about MS... I have a very good friend and follow yoga teacher who is also challedged with MS (Suzanne) - I know you don't live in Seattle - but you might enjoy her web site:

    Love your site! I'll be back..

  4. Natalie: Thanks so much for your loyalty! I'll be starting an online bakery, so you can help spread the word then!

    Melanie: Thanks for taking a look at my site. And thank you very much for the web info! I'll be checking it out for sure! I love that you don't know me, but are trying to help a fellow human. Love it!


I look forward to any and all comments from readers. Feel free to correct me, enlighten me, and encourage me!