Ingredients (makes a 2-layer 8 or 9″ round cake; serves 8-12; adapted from Zenbelly Catering):
For the cake:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour/tapioca starch
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon finely ground coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, plus extra for greasing pans
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
For the peppermint ganache (makes enough for the filling and top of the cake; double to cover the sides:
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup pecans (other nuts, shredded coconut, or sprinkles would also work well)
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of two 8 or 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease the paper and sides of the pan with coconut oil. To make a two-layer cake with larger pans, double the recipe. You can also make a taller layer cake by using 6″ cake pans, but you may need to adjust the baking time.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or almost clean. Keep in mind that the cake may need more or less time in the oven if you used a different-sized pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10-20 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Remember that my quantities make just enough to fill the cake and cover the top, so you should double the recipe if you want to cover the sides of the cake as well (I think I will try that next time). If your chocolate seizes up like mine did, you may need to use an electric mixer to smooth it out.
Place one layer of the cooled cake, flat side up, on a piece of parchment. Use an offset spatula to spread a layer of ganache over the cake. Place the other layer, flat side up again, on top. Cover the top (and sides if desired) with the remaining ganache.
To decorate the cake like I did, crush the pecans. I placed mine in a zip-top bag and pounded them with a mallet–you can also finely chop them with a knife. To make a heart (or another shape) stencil out of parchment, fold a piece of parchment paper in half and draw half a heart, then cut it out. If you are not worried about your shape being symmetrical, you don’t need to fold the parchment. Unfold the stencil and gently place it on top of the cake. (Alternatively, you could use the cut-out instead of the outline to create a chocolate heart in the middle of a pecan-covered cake). Carefully sprinkle the desired topping in the middle of the stencil (or around the cut-out shape). Gently press down on the topping to help it adhere to the cake. Slowly lift off the stencil or cut-out, being careful not to spill extra toppings on the cake. Slice and serve!
This cake keeps for up to three days, covered, at room temperature. It would probably keep for even longer in the refrigerator.
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