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Recipe Makeover: Guinness Chocolate Cake from Nigella Lawson

March 14, 2012
Keep all the flavor while swapping out unhealthier ingredients. (Photo Credit: litlnemo via Flickr)

Guinness and chocolate make for a winning combination in Nigella Lawson’s Guinness Chocolate Cake. In my makeover of this outstanding recipe, I’ve kept all the delicious chocolatey flavor while swapping in ingredients that are better for you and for the environment—from locally brewed stout to raw cacao and dairy from pasture-raised cows.

The Cake

  • Local Stout: While some may consider this sacrilege, replace Guinness with your favorite organic, locally brewed stout.  If you don’t know much about local beers, check the Beer Menu website for a list of brewers in your area.
  • Better butter: Replace conventional butter with butter made from the raw milk of grass-fed cows.  (If you’re allergic to dairy, substitute organic extra-virgin coconut oil for the butter.)
  • Organic raw cocoa powder: Boost antioxidants and other essential health-supporting nutrients with organic raw cocoa powder (a super food!); organic unsweetened cocoa powder is also a good choice.
  • Organic, lower-glycemic sweetener: Replace processed caster sugar with organic coconut palm sugar, a more nutritive option that can help stave off sugar-induced energy crashes.  To achieve a caster-like consistency, simply grind the coconut palm sugar for a few seconds in a food processor.
  • Organic yogurt: Instead of conventional sour cream, use plain Greek-style yogurt made from grass-fed cow, sheep, goat or buffalo milk.
  • Organic, free-range eggs: Boost flavor and nutrients with organic free-range eggs from pasture-raised hens; hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs from cage-free hens are also a good choice. (Hens raised in crowded battery cages have a greater chance of producing eggs with salmonella, offer few nutrients and often have a bland, fishy taste.)
  • Organic vanilla: Use three inches of fresh organic vanilla bean or one tablespoon of 100% pure organic vanilla extract.
  • Spelt flour: Increase nutrients by using spelt flour in lieu of all-purpose flour.  Unlike other grains, even conventionally grown spelt is not commonly sprayed with pesticides or other synthetic chemicals.

The Frosting

This cake is absolutely divine all on its own, or paired with organic raspberries or strawberries.  If you can’t resist the whipped cream cheese topping (meant to resemble the head on a pint of stout), I suggest the following substitutions.

  • Organic cream cheese: Replace conventional cream cheese with organic cream cheese.  Even better, strain plain yogurt through a cheese cloth overnight in the fridge to achieve a cream cheese-like texture.
  • Organic, lower-glycemic sweetener: Instead of processed icing sugar, use organic coconut palm sugar finely ground to a powder-like consistency in a coffee grinder or food processor.  The topping will have a mocha hue due to the caramel-color of the crystals.
  • Better cream: Increase nutrients and flavor with organic cream from grass-fed cows not injected with antibiotics or hormones.


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