Honey Almond Cake with Cardamom Frosting

Honey Almond Cake with Cardamom Frosting

This cake recipe comes from our cookbook, and we're sharing it here in honor of our 7th birthday! We recently made up a sprinkle-topped version of this delicious cake to share with our team in celebration of Ground Up's 7th birthday, and everyone loved it so much that we knew we needed to share with all of you, too!

If you really love your best friend, this is the cake you’ll make them on their birthday. Honey-sweetened and gluten-free, this cake is the mystical unicorn of all cakes. It’s so moist, rich and flavorful that you wonder how it could possibly be real. (Real, as in, really actually healthy and made with real ingredients.)

The shining star of this recipe is the coconut milk and cardamom nut butter frosting. Adding nut butter to frosting is easily one of our favorite flavor “hacks.” We often just swap out the butter in a standard frosting recipe for nut butter, and it makes it instantly more flavorful (and conveniently dairy-free!). 

This cake is comprised of two layers: a light cardamom-spiced almond layer and a rich dark-chocolate and orange layer. If two layers feels ambitious, feel free to make only one—it will still be delicious; just note that you won’t need as much frosting.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Coconut oil for greasing pans
  • Almond Cake:
    • 4 eggs, divided
    • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
    • 2 teaspoons almond extract
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1 3/4 cups almond flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Chocolate Orange Cake:
    • 4 eggs, divided
    • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or seeds from 2 vanilla beans
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • Zest from 1/2 orange 
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Cardamom Nut Butter Frosting:
    • 1 1/2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk, chilled in the refrigerator overnight (approximately 2 cans)
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 cup Coconut Cardamom Nut Butter
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    • 1/3 cup cacao nibs, plus extra to garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the canned coconut milk in the refrigerator to chill overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans with coconut oil, and/or line with parchment paper.
  3. Make the almond cake:
    1. Set out two large mixing bowls. Separate the 4 eggs, dividing all of the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in the other.
    2. In the first bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the 4 egg whites on high for 1 minute, until foamy. Add orange juice, then beat at medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. (Be careful not to beat further.) Set aside.
    3. In the second bowl, mix the 4 egg yolks, almond extract, salt, baking soda and honey until fully incorporated, around 2 minutes. Mix in the almond flour and cardamom until incorporated, around 1 minute.
    4. Gently fold in one-third of the egg whites, then incorporate the remaining two-thirds slowly and gradually, being sure not to lose their aeration. The batter will be light and airy, and pale yellow in color. Transfer the mixture to a greased cake pan.
    5. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch. (If you jiggle the pan a bit, you shouldn’t see any movement on the top.)
  4. Make the chocolate cake:
    1. In the same two large mixing bowls, once again separate the 4 eggs, dividing all of the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in the other.
    2. In the first bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the 4 egg whites on high for 1 minute, until foamy.  Add orange juice, then beat at medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. (Be careful not to beat further.) Set aside.
    3. In the second bowl, mix the 4 eggs yolks, vanilla, salt, baking soda, orange zest and honey until fully incorporated, around 4 minutes. Mix in the almond flour and cocoa powder until incorporated, around 1 minute.
    4. Gently fold in one-third of the egg whites, then incorporate the remaining two-thirds slowly and gradually, being sure not to lose their aeration. The batter will be light and airy (but a bit denser than the almond cake batter). Transfer the mixture to a greased cake pan.
    5. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch. (If you jiggle the pan a bit, you shouldn’t see any movement on the top.)
    6. Let both cakes cool for at least one hour out of the oven.
  5. Make the frosting:
    1. Open the cans of coconut milk. You’ll notice that the milk has separated, and a thick layer of white cream sits at the top of the can. Scoop out this “cream” part of the milk, measuring out 1 1/2 cups. (Set aside any remaining liquid in the cans; it’s great for adding to smoothies, oatmeal and soup!)
    2. Use an electric mixer to beat the coconut “cream” with the salt, nut butter, honey, and vanilla. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and transfer to the freezer for at least 1 hour to chill and thicken. (You could also make this the night before and chill in the refrigerator overnight.)
  6. Assemble the cake:
    1. Carefully remove the two cakes from their cake pans.
    2. Thinly slice the rounded top off of the almond layer (if needed) to form an even surface for frosting, then place it on a cake stand or plate. Cover the top with the frosting, and sprinkle with cacao nibs.
    3. Place the chocolate cake on top, then proceed to frost the entire cake with remaining frosting.
    4. Garnish the cake with cacao nibs, sprinkles or whatever else you'd like!
  7. Serve immediately, or transfer to the refrigerator before enjoying. The cake will keep for up to 5 days, refrigerated. (As a note, due to the coconut milk frosting, this cake should not sit out at room temperature for more than a couple hours.)

    A few tips here: 

    • The key to a light and fluffy cake lies in properly beating the egg whites. To do so, you want to make sure that absolutely no yolks get mixed in with the whites; you want to make sure to keep the beaters and the bowl you’re mixing them in as clean as possible. Additionally, you want to beat the egg whites on a medium speed, and stop as soon as you’ve achieved stiff peaks. (If you beat it for much longer, the cake will be less light and tender).
    • You could make both cakes at the same time and bake them together, but we prefer to make one layer and then the next, so that is how the recipe is written.

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