Did any of you grow up eating those orange flavored chocolates shaped like an orange that you had to whack on a counter top so they’d split into segments? They were definitely a childhood favorite, yet somewhere along the way I must have forgotten about them. Luckily for me, this cake tastes just like it! Every bite brings me back to attempting the perfect whack to get the chocolate to fall apart just so.

This cake version of the candy bar is much better for you. Made with almond flour instead of wheat flour, it’s gluten free and grain free, sweetened with brown rice syrup and a whole orange, with no butter or dairy in sight. The longest part of the process is boiling the orange. Yes, you boil a whole orange in water until it’s soft enough to cut through. For my smallish/medium sized orange, that took about 35 minutes.

The results are a rich, chocolately, soft yet slightly dense cake. The almond flour makes the cake surprisingly filling that I don’t need more than one slice to feel satisfied. One more serving and it puts me over the edge (ask me how I know). It is seriously so good that I am always so tempted to go in for another piece. I don’t believe in labeling desserts “guilt free” because those types of feelings shouldn’t be associated with food, but I don’t feel the slightest bit bad for indulging in something made with such wholesome ingredients.

I garnished my cake with a pouring of chocolate ganache and maldon flaked salt, but a dusting of cocoa powder would also be beautiful and delicious!

Chocolate Orange Cake - Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tbsp oil (such as coconut, walnut, avocado, sunflower)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Boil orange in water until soft, about 35-45 minutes, depending on size. Remove from water and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325° F and grease 6" round cake pan.
  3. Using a blender or food processor, puree entire boiled orange until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and continue to blend until smooth. Batter will be thick.
  4. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Let cool in pan, then remove and garnish with cocoa powder or ganache.



Uh oh, do I feel a new hobby coming on? I always thought tempering chocolate was a task too difficult for me to take on, especially without fancy equipment. Maybe it’s just after years of practicing patience in baking and a better understanding of sugar that I am able to tackle chocolate.

Armed with my digital thermometer this was my process:

  • Melt couverture chocolate in a bain marie up to 120° F
  • Seed it with some tempered chocolate around 85°
  • Bring temperature down to 80°
  • Bring it back up to 89-90°
  • All while stirring like crazy to make sure those beta crystals were thoroughly distributed.

Will you believe that it worked?! I certainly didn’t. I tested the chocolate for fingerprints, melting, blooming, and many other suspects of untempered chocolate a million times, but they never showed up.

Then, after seeing my candied meyer lemon cake last week, my friend Natalie came over to candy some more citrus from her backyard trees. We candied grapefruit, orange, blood orange, and lemon. Of course, I had to try dipping these in chocolate as well. I might create a tutorial on how to candy citrus if there is interest (let me know by leaving a comment!). It’s simple and straightforward with satisfying results. Perhaps a great homemade Valentine’s gift!


Here’s another naked cake, this time with chocolate drizzled on top! Similar to my other naked cake, this one is comprised of vanilla chiffon cake, fresh strawberries and raspberries, and a cream cheese whipped cream frosting. The cake is then finished off with a drizzle of semi sweet chocolate ganache and a dusting of powdered sugar.

This time around, the frosting was softer and offered less structure, but I really enjoyed the more relaxed look! Unfortunately this type of frosting prevents the cake from transporting well and must be refrigerated the whole time. I am trying to loosen up my cake style a little more and am really enjoying the direction I’m heading!

For more cake information and inquiries please visit my website at


Growing up I wasn’t a fan of a Reese’s peanut butter cups. I hated whole peanuts and didn’t like peanut butter unless it was paired with double the amount of jam. (Side note, I’d never eaten a PB&J sandwich until I was 12!) In fact, I pretty much wrote off all sorts of nuts until I tried almond butter. That was my “gateway” nut, and now I enjoy all different kinds. I still don’t like those Reese’s though. You know what is good? Justin’s peanut butter cups. I could eat those all day. Turns out it’s not so much the combination of peanut butter and chocolate that I dislike, it’s the use of poor quality ingredients, which equates to terrible texture and flavor. Of course, this meant I had to try making them myself.

It’s pretty far fetched to call these cups a health food, but I thought I could try making them a little less unhealthy. Gary recently picked up some peanut butter that had added protein powder and flax seeds, making it a more nutrient dense alternative.

I used a blend of dark and bittersweet chocolate because I like how it tastes against the PB, but also because it has less sugar. To make it mocha flavored I added instant coffee powder. If you’re avoiding caffeine I’m sure you could use Dandy Blend, thought I haven’t tried it. If you want to make these vegan friendly, make sure to use chocolate without added milk. As long as you use your favorite chocolate bar, you can’t really go wrong!

Mocha Peanut Butter Cups
– just a guideline, not a recipe –

dark chocolate
nut butter
honey or maple syrup
instant coffee powder, to taste

Carefully melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. (It’s not “wrong” to melt chocolate in the microwave! Just keep an eye on it, don’t let it melt all the way, and stir it through to have the residual heat melt the rest of the pieces. If you keep these in the freezer it doesn’t matter if your chocolate is out of temper, anyway.) Mix instant coffee into melted chocolate. Spoon chocolate into silicone or paper cupcake liners, just enough to have a decent coating on the bottom. Place cups in freezer. Mix a little bit of honey with your nut butter of choice. You only need a little bit, enough so you can form a ball with your hands. To make 3 nut butter cups, I used about 1 tsp of honey. Take cups out of freezer when they’ve solidified a bit, then roll the nut butter into a flattened ball and place on top of chocolate. Spoon more chocolate on top, then place back in freezer until solid, about 15 minutes.

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I’m excited to share a new project I’ll be working on this month: 30 Days of Desserts. Every day this June I will be sharing a new treat, occasionally with a recipe if it turns out well. Every dessert will have a healthy component, such as gluten free, sugar free, vegan, and whole grain. I’m cutting it close on day one but I wanted to make sure I started the month on the right foot!


On a whim I created this cookie and loved it right away. There’s no added butter or oil, it’s refined sugar free, grain free, and did I mention it’s super quick and easy? No, it’s not a replacement for your gluten filled, sugar filled, tradtional chocolate chip cookie, but it’s really satisfying and dare I say it, healthy?!

Another thing I really like is that you can make just a few cookies which helps with portion control. For this recipe I’m just making three little cookies, though you can easily double the quantities. They might not look like a traditional cookie, but trust that they’re delicious! And as luck would have it, when I took these photos they came out a little funny looking. Here’s a photo of my first attempt. A little better, right?

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookie
gluten free, grain free, sugar free, vegan
makes 2-3 cookies

1/4 c almond meal/flour
1/4 c shredded coconut, finely processed
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 scant tbsp water
2 tsp maple syrup or honey
chocolate chips
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg (optional)
pinch cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 325° F.
With a food processor, grind shredded coconut until as fine as possible. Be sure not to turn it into coconut butter! Mix dry ingredients together. Add water and maple syrup and stir with a spoon until completely moistened and forms a ball. Add chocolate chips and form into cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on top. Let cool and enjoy!


In contrast to the White Velvet is the new Hot Chocolate cake. Inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, a rich chocolate cake is lightly seasoned with a touch of cinnamon and chili powder. Layered in between is chili caramel sauce, infused with three types of chilies for a spicy flavor and hint of smokiness. It is then finished off a slathering of silky whipped ganache buttercream and garnished with caramelized sugar shards sprinkled with red pepper flakes. Not for the faint of heart, as this a decadent semisweet chocolate flavor with a noticeable hint of spice.

As a Valentine’s treat, the Hot Chocolate cake is available in a petite 4 inches. To order, please visit our website.

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Today I want to share one of the cakes I offer for order, Matchbox Kitchen‘s Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. It quickly became a favorite this past holiday season! Four layers of moist chocolate cake is filled with layers of hazelnut swiss meringue buttercream and a combination of chocolate crumbs, vanilla crumbs, and hazelnut crunch. See those bits on the top? The cake is filled with ’em! They are one of my favorite parts of my cakes because they add such a nice texture. The outside is frosted with the same smooth, creamy hazelnut buttercream.

As always, Matchbox Kitchen cakes (and cookies!) are only made with the highest quality and organic ingredients. For cake inquiries please email me at

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A few weeks ago I had the idea to make a cookie that contained soft chocolate nougat. I wanted it to be similar to a few grocery store candy bars I love, but without the preservatives, artificial ingredients, and terrible chocolate. The cookie hasn’t been perfected for the shop yet but I did make these as a special for Work/Shop this past Saturday. Speaking of which, thank you for those of you that came! I was completely sold out by the first half of the show.

I named these “musketeer” (for obvious reasons) but they are a bit different from the candy bar version. The bottom is a chocolate cookie which is topped with a round of milk chocolate nougat, then drizzled with a bit of dark chocolate. I’m so happy they were well received and can’t wait to figure out how to make a set for the shop.

If you’d like to make them yourself, I used this chocolate nougat recipe. You can use your favorite chocolate cookie recipe (perhaps this one!) but I went for something with a soft bite to it, like this one.


In an effort to try something new, I skipped my usual swiss meringue buttercream and made a butter roux frosting. Though I love how much less sugar and butter it uses, the slightly grainy texture doesn’t hold a candle to SMBC. I’m trying to branch out but I just can’t give it up!

While making this cake I had no vision/plan in mind so it isn’t executed as nicely as I’d like. Not a complete loss though, as the chocolate cake portion was a newly improved recipe that I’ll be using from now on. A perfectly light, soft, fine crumb. Not too rich but full of smooth chocolately flavor. I’m sold! I can’t wait to pair this cake with espresso swiss buttercream.


Over the weekend we had some strawberries that needed to be used up so I came up this cake. It’s devil’s food chocolate cake with diced strawberries mixed with whipped cream for the filling, covered with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, then chocolate ganache poured over. This was my first time attempting to pour ganache on a cake, and in my haste forgot to thin it down a bit, whoops!

Want to hear something funny? A few nights ago I had a dream that someone wrote me a Yelp review saying that they never tried my cakes but thought they looked boring because of the way I frost them. When I woke up I realized that as much as I love a simple frosted cake, I should add a little detail here and there. Consider this ganache my first foray into something a little more elaborate.

Edit: Here is the recipe, enjoy!

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

8 large egg whites (225g)
2 c sugar (400g)
1 lb butter, cubed
1 tbsp vanilla
3-5 tbsp strawberry jam
pinch of salt

In a double boiler, gently heat egg whites and sugar to 140 F. Take off stove and transfer to stand mixer, then whisk until thick, glossy, and cool to the touch. Change to paddle attachment and slowly incorporate butter, with mixer on low. Finish off with salt, vanilla and strawberry jam.

Notes: Try to take out any lumps of strawberry jam or it might not incorporate well into your buttercream. For any additional help I would suggest reading Sweetapolita’s swiss meringue buttercream tutorial.

Strawberry Filling:

1 c strawberries, diced
1 c whipped heavy cream

Dice strawberries and let any excess liquid drain though a fine mesh sieve. Whip cream to stiff peaks, then gently fold in strawberries.

Chocolate Ganache:

8 oz chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3/4 c heavy cream

Place chocolate into medium sized bowl. Heat cream just until boiling, then immediately pour over chocolate. Allow to stand for a few minutes, then gently stir until smooth. Transfer to a container with a spout (such as a pyrex measuring cup) and slowly pour over cake.

Chocolate Cake:

Use your favorite chocolate cake recipe. I have had success with Martha’s Devil’s Food Cake.

Cake Assembly:

Bake two 6″ round chocolate cakes. Let cool, then cut both in half, leaving you with 4 rounds. Place 1 cake layer on top of cake board or cake stand. Add 1/4 of the strawberry filling, being careful not to spill over the edges. Repeat process until all cake layers and filling are used.

Coat entire cake with a thin layer of strawberry swiss meringue buttercream (crumb coat). Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until frosting is no longer tacky. Coat with an even layer of buttercream and smooth out with offset spatula. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and make chocolate ganache. Pour ganache over cake.  Cake best eaten the same day.