This spicy dark chocolate cake is redolent with sweet and fragrant Dutch speculaas spices. It’s glazed with a shiny dark chocolate ganache and the whole thing is egg and dairy free, making it inclusive and entirely suitable for vegans. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to make.
Far Flung Family
Our family, my mother’s side at least, used to be nicely contained within the boundaries of England and Scotland. As a child growing up, my holidays were usually spent visiting one or other of them and we were close.
These days, the family has become international and live variously in Australia, Spain, California and Colombia. Needless to say, I don’t get to see them very often anymore.
So I was delighted when a bunch of relies came down to visit us in Cornwall earlier this month. I was particularly pleased to see my vegan cousin from California who I haven’t met since his wedding five years ago. Of course I had to make him a cake.
I’d recently been sent a special spice mix from the Speculaas Spice Company and I was keen to try it out. It’s based on the vanDotsch family’s secret recipe and only some of the spices are revealed in the ingredients. Speculaas is a Dutch spice mix dating from the 17th Century when Holland was sailing the Seven Seas in search of exotic spices. Today the spice mix has been mostly standardised and is best known for its use in speculaas biscuits. If you’ve had these in Belgium, you’ll know them as speculoos.
This mix consists of nine spices including Sri Lankan cinnamon, cloves and ginger. The overwhelming aroma emanating from the opened packet was of cloves and cinnamon – a heady mix indeed. But other less obvious scents were there too.
On trying the spice, we all had a go at guessing what the secret ingredients might be. My aunt was convinced it contained black pepper, CT was pretty sure nutmeg was in it and I thought I could taste allspice. It certainly has a hint of a kick to it and is full of flavour. The company tries to source its spices at as high a grade as possible and to ensure that they are pure with no additives of any kind. They are also mostly organic, fairtrade or both.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out some pure chocolate powders from the chocolate company Mortimer. These are not cocoa powder, but ground up chocolate. Well, what a very good idea I thought; no need to faff around melting chocolate and creating extra washing up for baking purposes now. This is because you can add the chocolate directly into the mix. Which is exactly what I did.
You wouldn’t know from eating the cakes I’ve made that the traditional method had not been used. Finer than grated chocolate and similar to cocoa powder, it gets completely incorporated into the baking mix. I did try melting the white couverture powder in these burnt butter cupcakes and it melted almost instantaneously.
In addition to the white couverture powder (40%), which smells deliciously vanillary, I also had two different 70% dark chocolate powders to try. All of the powders come in 220g packs and are suitable for drinking as hot chocolate as well as in baking recipes. Each packet has a recipe printed on the back; I want to make all of them, although the white chocolate coconut ice-cream sounds the most intriguing.
To see what differences we could spot between the two dark chocolates, CT and I tried both, in powder form and as a hot chocolate. The powder melted into the hot milk really quickly, leaving no bits behind, as can sometimes be the case. They were different in colour with the Ecuador being slightly darker and redder. Both were quite delicious. For convenience, I reckon these are excellent products. They retail at £3.80 and are now available at Sainsburys. South America and Ghana versions are also available to buy online.
Pure Dark Chocolate Powder (70%): Ecuador
Described as flavour 4 intense, this tastes less sweet than the West African, but surprisingly less bitter too. In hot chocolate form it was also less sweet as well as being more refreshing and robust. I’ve heard that Ecuador is the home of the best quality cacao and this chocolate seems to prove the point. The recipe suggestion was for sumptuous chocolate sauce. Well, I’m always going to be up for that.
Pure Dark Chocolate Powder (70%): West African
Described as flavour 2 mellow, we found this had a fruiter and sweeter smell and tasted slightly of cardamom. In hot chocolate form it also came across as fruity with notes of coconut and was slightly sweeter than the Ecuador. The recipe suggestion was for gorgeous chocolate brownies.
Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake
The method for preparing this vegan spicy dark chocolate cake is an easy one. No need to cream hard butter and sugar. Thanks to the wonderful chocolate powder, it’s pretty much a case of adding the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stirring. The shiny dark chocolate glaze is even easier to make.
My cousin was delighted with his welcome back vegan bake. Luckily, everyone else enjoyed it too. We all thought it was strong on flavour and not too sweet – the way things should be.
More Vegan Bakes You Might Like
- Chocolate banana cashew cake
- Chocolate coconut cannellini cake
- Citrus drizzle cake
- Easter biscuits with purple cornflour
- Peanut butter banana muffins
- Tiger nut chocolate chip cookies
- Vanilla almond cookies
Stay in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this speculaas chocolate cake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake. PIN IT.
Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake – The Recipe
Vegan Chocolate Spice Cake
- 200 g (7oz) flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white)
- 1 rounded tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 heaped tsp speculaas spice (or mixed spice)
- 60 g 70% Ecuador dark chocolate powder (or other dark chocolate, finely grated )
- 130 g dark brown sugar
- 1 large banana
- 50 ml sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
- 150 ml water
- 20 g coconut oil
- 25 g 70% dark chocolate powder (or finely grated chocolate)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir in the chocolate and make a well in the centre.
- Mash the banana up with the sugar, then beat in the oil. Pour gradually into the dry ingredients, mixing from the centre outwards.
- Add the water and vinegar and mix until just incorporated.
- Scrape into a 21cm round cake mould or lined tin and bake at 180℃, 350℉, Gas 4 for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melt the coconut and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup until smooth. Pour over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Scatter over some grated dark chocolate if desired.