A little while ago, I read an article about the growing trend of keeping backyard chickens. At the time, I thought it was a mild curiousity, but now I am beginning to think these people are on to something. I eat a lot of eggs. I mean A LOT of eggs. In my efforts to control my blood sugars through diet and exercise alone, I eat a two-egg omelet almost every morning. How nice would it be if those eggs came from my own backyard? I can just imagine walking in to the warm henhouse every morning, amidst the indignant clucking of my very own chickens, to steal a few fresh eggs for breakfast. Alas, my little pastoral vision is unlikely to happen any time soon, as we are not quite rural enough for backyard poultry of any kind.
When I get a little sick of my eggs, I like to have some sort of low carb baked good on hand to go with my morning coffee. My recent post of a marble cheesecake (not low carb) has had me dreaming of a marbled coffee cake of sorts. So I set about creating one. A google search turned up several variations of an almond meal pound cake that seemed like it might make a good basic guide for my recipe. As I am generally the main consumer of these things in my household, I decided to half the recipe and bake it in two mini-loaf pans. This way, I wouldn't be wasting too many expensive ingredients if it didn't work out, and if it did work out, I could freeze one of the little loaves for a future date.
I also had ricotta cake on the brain. I've come across many lovely-looking recipes that include ricotta and I happened to have a large container of it in my fridge. Since the basic recipe for the almond meal cake included cream cheese, I thought I could sub in ricotta with minimal adjustment to the other ingredients. For the chocolate marble effect, I simply mixed melted butter and cocoa powder, and then added it to some of the batter. And at the very last minute, I decided to swap the vanilla extract for almond extract, to complement the chocolate flavour.The Results:
I am thoroughly enjoying my little break from omelets with this lovely cake. I was a little concerned about how much it would rise, since the chocolate portion of the batter was a bit thick and sticky, but it turned out quite well. The mini loaves are adorable (why are things so much cuter in mini size?) and I could see giving them out as little holiday presents. I won't be freezing the second loaf, because the first is already gone and I want to eat this for breakfast for the next few days.
My only real complaint about this cake is that I couldn't really get it to swirl and marble. It may be a result of the small pans or it may because of how adding chocolate to half the batter made it too thick to swirl, but I ended up with alternating globs of light and dark batter. It looks fine and tastes fine, but it isn't quite as pretty as I had in my head.
One more small note - since I intended this as a breakfast loaf, I kept the sweetener to a minimum. I like it this way, but if you like your breakfast on the sweet side, consider adding more erythritol or stevia, or your preferred sugar substitute. Chocolate Almond Ricotta Cake
*This recipe makes to 3x5 mini loaves. Double it for a 9x5 inch loaf pan or a bundt pan and increase baking time.
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbsp erythritol
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 tsp almond extract
8-12 drops stevia extract
Preheat the oven to 325F and grease 2 mini-loaf pans. Line bottom and long sides of pans with parchment paper, and grease paper.
In a medium, microwave-safe dish, melt butter. Stir in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, erythritol, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.
In a larger bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until frothy. Beat in ricotta, almond extract and stevia until smooth. Add dry ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined.
Place half of batter into chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Alternating between light and dark mixtures, spoon dabs of batter into prepared pans until they are 2/3 full. Place pans on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is set and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serves 8. Total carbs per serving is 8g, but only 7g if you subtract erythritol.