Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}

This is my magical unicorn cake, my pie-in-the-sky, my nemesis; the cake that was destined never to work. I lost count how many iterations were tried, tested and failed… how many tins of beans were used in the quest for a vegan chocolate almond torte. And yet here we are, with the recipe for a super-rich, squidgy vegan chocolate almond torte. The perfect indulgence. Based on the classic Torta Caprese, this version is made with the anticipated chocolate and butter, sugar, cocoa and a bean brine that replicates egg whites.

Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}
Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}
Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}

Aquafaba is the liquid you drain off a can of chickpeas, borlotti or cannellini beans before adding the beans to a salad or a stew. I’ve been using it a lot in my cookies and cakes, selling vegan and gluten-free goods this past year to local cafes and at markets. It’s only one of many egg replacers, but certainly the most magical. What once was tipped down the drain is now a star player in many vegan cakes and meringues. There is no wastage. Not only do you get to eat beans, you get to eat dessert! It’s all about balance.

Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}
Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}
Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}

Speaking of balance, this cake may suit those who like a little less sugar in their desserts. I’ve called this cake ‘bittersweet’, because it really is not very sweet. Don’t get me wrong – it’s very rich! It is best enjoyed with something creamy, whether that be ice cream, soy whip or custard. The cocoa is a very forward flavour in this dessert, complemented by loads of orange zest. If you are not a fan of orange, just leave it out and replace the juice with mylk. Or why not try another flavour? What’s your favourite chocolate flavour?

Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}
Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, GF}

Bittersweet Jaffa Almond Cake {vegan, gf}

A vegan torta caprese, made with chickpea brine instead of egg whites!

Serves 8 to 10


100g vegan dark chocolate, broken into chunks

13g (1 tablespoon) coconut oil

125ml (½ cup) aquafaba

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

170g (¾ cup) caster (super-fine) sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

75g (¾ cup) blanched almond meal (almond flour)

95g (¾ cup) Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 tablespoon arrowroot (tapioca) starch

¼ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

finely grated zest of two oranges (1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Dutch-process cocoa, sieved, extra for dusting


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees F. Grease an 18 cm (7-inch) round springform cake tin and then and line the base with baking paper.

In a medium, heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (or in the microwave), warm the oil and dark chocolate together over low heat, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift cocoa, tapioca starch, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, then add almond meal. Put aquafaba and cream of tartar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with whisk attachment on high speed for about 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and frothy (longer if necessary). The mixture should be so thick that even if you hold the bowl upside down, it won’t slide. You are then ready to add the sugar.

Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating constantly for about 5 minutes or until a thick and glossy mixture forms. When you remove the beaters, the meringue should make stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla extract until combined.

Fold flour mixture into meringue, then add in melted chocolate, orange zest and juice. Fold again until completely combined. Mixture will deflate slightly, but should retain a light, ‘moussy’ texture. Scrape batter into prepared tin, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a crust forms on the edge, but the centre is still soft (I usually check at 30 minutes and cover with a baking sheet). At this point it will begin to sink, but don’t worry; it’s meant to!

Remove from oven, set aside to cool and set before removing from tin. (I suggest leaving for 24 hours or chilling before cutting). Dust with cocoa, and serve with fresh berries, ice cream and soy whip!


Adapted from my Aquafaba Vegan Brownies, and Zsu Dever



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