I try try try to make this food blog about you, and not about me and my family. I don’t fashion the recipes I develop for my cookbooks and for the blog according to what my family needs, except when it helps me develop recipes, of course. Otherwise, they spin in separate orbits. My family needs dinner every night, breakfast every morning. The children need lunches every.single.day (big ones). There are kid errands to run, sporting events to attend (and practices to arrive at precisely on time). But those errands and meals and practices simply will not dictate my work. I won’t let them no siree—except on birthdays! When someone in my family has a birthday, it seems, I start out on my high horse, all separation-of-work-and-family. And I end up making a birthday cake event into a blog event. I can’t help myself! So it was when we were invited over to my brother’s house for dinner to mark my husband’s birthday and I was asked to bring a cake that this gluten free chocolate poke cake was born. Life imitating art, or art imitating life? Beats me, but this is the chocolate birthday cake you make when you’re invited and asked to bring cake. Trust me.
The chocolate cake is adapted from my one-bowl gluten free chocolate cake, but scaled up in size. The chocolate flavor of the cake is a bit deeper, too, and the cake is less sweet on account of the poured over chocolate pudding mixture. This is a chocolate-lover’s cake, no doubt.
Have you ever made a poke cake? They’re really pretty literal, poke cakes. You make the cake, then poke holes in it while it’s still warm out of the oven. Then you pour a gorgeous liquid over the top and watch the cake soak up the goodness. It reminds me a bit of rum cake, on account of the poking holes and pouring over. Also because these sort of cakes are traditionally made with a cake mix and a pudding mix, as are most rum cakes (but not ours!). Being a chocolate poke cake, it’s not quite as easy to see the chocolate pudding mixture in those holes…
…except when you hit a bite just right.
This recipe for gluten free chocolate poke cake uses no pre-made mixes, since I’m simply not a big fan of the taste of (and ingredients in) cake mixes. My homemade pudding mixture is a low-starch chocolate pudding mix that is cooked before being poured over the top of the cake. The pudding mixture is not so thick that it won’t absorb fully into the cake, but since it’s cooked it stays thick when the cake is served at room temperature. If that makes less than total sense, just carry on. I tried this cake every which way, and this is the way that delivers!
2 1/2 tablespoons (15 g) nonfat dry milk, ground into a finer powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (16 fluid ounces) milk
Topping 2 cups (16 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons (22 g) confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons chocolate shavings
First make the cake. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch x 13-inch (or a 9-inch square) baking pan and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the sour cream, oil, eggs, coffee and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter should be thick but soft. Scrape it into the prepared pan, smooth into an even layer and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs attached (about 30 minutes). Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan before poking holes every 1/2-inch all over the surface of the warm cake with a chopstick or skewer, wiggling the stick around a bit to create holes that are about 1/4-inch in diameter.
Make the pudding mixture. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place all of the pudding ingredients in a medium-size heavy-bottom saucepan and whisk to combine well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken (about 5 minutes). Pour the hot pudding mixture over the top of the cake and gently spread it around so that it is absorbed into the cake through the holes. Allow the cake to sit until it has cooled completely, then cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Make the topping right before serving. Place the heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a handheld mixer. Turn the mixer on medium speed and whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, raise the speed to high and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the chilled cake and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate shavings. Slice into squares and serve.