In celebration: Chocolate Almond Quinoa Torte { #GlutenFree #SugarFree }

Sweetened with stevia, this recipe for flourless chocolate almond quinoa cake is gluten free, diabetic-friendly and low glycemic.

As difficult as it is for me to process, a surprising number of people have crossed my path who have mentioned that their birthdays were rarely if ever, celebrated as children. Often, the non-specialness of the day had less to do with religion or lack of funds, but rather, in most cases, it had to do with overtaxed parents lacking time to treat the day like any other. 

That was never the case in my family.

Growing up, we were not a family of financial wealth. Indeed, my parents worked overtime to provide the basic necessities: a roof over our heads, our bellies full, our bodies clothed and our feet shoed. We lived, as most large families do – very modestly. We were fortunate enough to have grandparents and aunties who helped out, and neighbors who shared. My parents filled our lives with a lot of love and opportunity, even if it meant they went without things they needed or wanted. Even in the most challenging times, my parents worked tirelessly to make us feel special and safe from the world's troubles.

Birthdays were exceptionally marvelous.

There were themed birthday parties with dad making our favorite dishes and mom baking from scratch and sewing new outfits for us to wear on our special day. One summertime family birthday, mom made all of us girls Hawaiian costumes for a luau-themed celebration. There were also plenty of Disney themes with cakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse or Cinderella and hand-sewn Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that were lovingly handmade (I still have mine, in mint condition). Lots of friends and family surrounded us on our special day, and actual games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs, and of course, the star of every birthday party at our house –– candy-filled piƱatas –– provided entertainment.

As we grew older, the big family parties turned into slumber parties with girlfriends. Birthdays that fell on a school day were even more special because Mom would keep us home from school to spend the day with her for one-on-one time. In a family with five children, that was indeed a treat.

Now as adults, we don’t always gather for large birthday celebrations as we once did as children, opting instead to spend welcomed quiet time in contemplation because our lives have become so incredibly busy. We still get together to celebrate either of our parent's birthdays. Us sisters always go out of our way to show our love and gratitude for each other and when it’s a milestone birthday, of course, the family gathers.

Today is my birthday. I sit here pouring over a wealth of memories of the previous 48 birthdays filled with home-baked cakes and handmade gifts and parties filled with music and laughter and I am filled with contentment, joy and gratitude for having parents who have always worked so hard to make me feel like my birth and addition to their lives has been nothing less than a blessing.

So today, on my birthday, I also want to express my gratitude for this space and all of you. May the coming year bring good health, laughter, love and blessings both big and small.

Until next time friends … xo, ani

Chocolate Almond Quinoa Torte

For the best texture, use a blanched almond flour such as Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Blanched Almond Flour. 

Makes 1 (9-inch) torte

Baking spray (see note)

For the quinoa:
1 cup white quinoa
2 cups water

To bloom the cocoa:
½ cup hot water
¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (use the best you can afford, I use Valrhona or King Arthur)
¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

For the dry ingredients: 
1½ cups blanched super fine almond flour
1 cup Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (substitute with regular sugar or your favorite 1 to 1 sugar replacement)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

For the wet ingredients: 
5 large eggs
¼ cup almond milk or milk of choice
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To finish:
Sugar-free Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)
¼ cup sliced almonds

Make the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa well; place in a saucepan with water; do not add salt. Bring water to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Spread the quinoa out onto a large rimmed baking sheet to cool (when I'm impatient, I'll pop the uncovered pan into the refrigerator to cool it down quickly).

Bloom the cocoa: Add water to at least a 2-cup capacity glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir in the cocoas and espresso powder, whisking with a fork or small whisk until smooth; set aside.

Prepare the pan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trace the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan onto baking parchment, cut out and, after spraying the bottom of the pan with baking spray, line the pan with the parchment paper. Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with the baking spray; set aside.

Process the dry ingredients: Whisk the almond flour, Monkfruit Sweetener, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl; set aside.

Blend the wet ingredients: Add the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract to a blender and whip on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 packed cup of the cooked and cooled quinoa reserving the rest for different use. Blend on medium for 1 minute, then on high until smooth (2-3 minutes total in a high-powered blender, up to 5 minutes in a standard blender). Pour in the cocoa mixture and blend on medium until well incorporated.

Bake: Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place pan on a wire cooling rack and immediately run a knife or offset spatula around the edges to release the torte from the sides of the pan. Allow torte to cool in pan for 20 minutes. Invert onto a large dish, removing the parchment paper from the bottom of the torte. Place the cooling rack on top of the torte, and invert again so that the torte is right-side up. Allow it to cool completely.

Finish the torte: For easier clean-up, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place the cooling rack with the torte into the baking sheet, then pour the ganache over the torte. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the top of the ganache and the drips of ganache on the torte's sides. Allow ganache to set for 10 minutes. Using two bench scrapers or two large spatulas, carefully transfer the torte to a cake stand or serving plate. Press handfuls of the sliced almonds into the ganache around the sides of the torte to decorate. Enjoy within 2-3 days.

Note: Baking spray has added flour, so you save the step of having to flour the pan. My favorite brand is Bak-klene ZT that I find at Smart & Final. Other brands to consider are Pam Baking and Baker's Joy.

Sugar-free Chocolate Ganache

1 (4-ounce) bar Lily's Dark Chocolate (stevia sweetened), chopped
2 tablespoons almond milk
3 tablespoons unsalted European style butter, such as Kerrygold

Once the torte is completely cooled and ready to be finished, place the chopped chocolate into a mixing cup or pint jar; set it aside. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat on medium until hot but not boiling. Add the butter, swirling the pan continuously until the butter melts. Pour the milk mixture over the chocolate, stirring well until the chocolate's melted, smooth and glossy. Use immediately.

Updated 04/07/21


  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Ani. I always enjoy your posting. Keep them coming.

  2. Happy Birthday, Ani! I think the very last pic is my favorite - looks so dense and delicious! :)



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