Layered Chocolate Mint Christmas Tree Cake (gluten free)
A stunner of a seasonal centre piece, this chocolate mint cake is layered with gluten free chocolate sponge and mint buttercream. The kids will love ‘decorating the tree’ and I promise… No one will EVER guess it’s gluten free.
1 x 8 inch/20 cm; 1 x 6 inch/15 cm; 1 x 4 inch/10 cm; and additional small round cake tin)
microwave or hob and saucepan
Large mixing spoon or spatula
Chocolate Sponge Cakes
435gplain gluten free flour blendeg. Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A - See NOTES
120gground almondsalmond meal
1½tbspbaking powdergluten free
1½tspbicarbonate of soda
¾tspfine sea salt
225gsoft light brown sugar
5largeeggsAt room temperature - UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
115gunsalted butter melted
200gdark chocolate chips(optional)
250gunsalted butter softened
500gicing sugarpowdered/confectioners sugar
1 to 2tbspmilkto loosen as necessary
peppermint extract – to taste
green food colouring paste
Tree Decorations (as you wish) - Check all are gluten free
mini candy canes
GF mint chocolate sticksI used Matchmakers
GF chocolate-mint ballsI used Aero Peppermint Balls
GF chocolate mini starsI used Milky Way Stars
GF shimmer-coated chocolate truffles
edible food glue
edible glitter – various colours
a little dark chocolatefor the star
Preparation of tree decorations ahead of time
If planning on using glitter-covered chocolates, it's advisable to prepare these in advance, so they have time to dry ready to place on the cake when iced and before the icing hardens.
'Glitterizing' chocolates etc
Place a little glitter of the chosen colours in tiny dishes (I use soy sauce dishes).
Use a clean paint brush (I keep one especially for food use) and smear a very thin layer of food glue on areas of chocolate balls, stars, etc that need to be 'glitterized'.
Dip the glued areas into the glitter to cover and then carefully place on a sheet of baking paper (on a tray/plate) to dry. Set aside.
Chocolate Star (if making)
Melt a little dark chocolate in the microwave (medium setting) in a glass bowl for 30 second bursts, stirring between each. (I tempered mine, but if you are adding glitter, any ‘blooming’ will not show).
Use a chocolate decoration kit (see main blog post) or very carefully drizzle the chocolate into a sturdy star shape on non-stick baking paper.
Immediately add a good sprinkle of glitter to the surface. Set aside to set.
Chocolate Sponge Cakes
Base-line the round, loose-bottomed cake tins – You will need the following : 1 x 8 inch/20 cm; 1 x 6 inch/15 cm; 1 x 4 inch/10 cm; and a non-stick large muffin tin (or additional small round cake tin) for the remaining mixture (from which the top 2 layers will be cut).
Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3.
Weigh and mix together the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and xanthan gum, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. (TIP: Weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
In a very large bowl, whisk together the sugars and eggs until well-blended, pale and thickened.
Melt the butter either in the microwave or in a small bowl over steaming water. Set aside.
Mix the espresso powder with the boiling water to dissolve.
Add the yoghurt, melted butter, coffee and vanilla extract to the egg mix and whisk again to blend.
Add the flour/dry blend and lightly fold into the mixture until just combined.
Add the chocolate chips last and fold through until evenly distributed, but be careful not to over-mix.
Distribute your batter between your tins to a depth of 4 to 5 cm (1½ to 2 inches), using any remaining batter in a muffin tin/additional cake tin.
Bake your cakes for between 20 and 40 minutes (dependent on depth and size), arranging them in the oven so that the smaller ones are at the front for easy removal without significantly disturbing the larger ones that need longer. They will be ready when a skewer inserted comes out clean. These cakes do not massively sink if a little air gets into the oven, but try to avoid opening the door too often or for too long!
As the cakes come out of the oven, remove from the tins (after about 10 minutes cooling) and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Mint Buttercream - make while the cakes are cooling
Place your softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat well until pale and creamy.
Gradually whisk the icing sugar into the butter, a little at a time, until the icing is smooth and soft.
Add a very little milk as the mixture thickens, to loosen if necessary.
Add peppermint extract and green food colouring a little at a time until you have your desired mint flavour and colour, whisking as you go.
Layer and fill the cakes
Starting with the largest 8 inch/20 cm sponge (placed on the serving dish/cake board), carefully spread a layer of icing on to the top and sides, to cover completely, using an icing spreader or palette knife. It's good if it looks a bit rough!
Place the next largest sponge (6 inch/15 cm) on top of the first iced sponge and repeat the icing process to completely cover.
Repeat again with the 4 inch/10 cm sponge.
For the top two layers, take the remaining sponge(s) and use cookie cutters (2 inch (5 cm) and 1 inch (2½ cm) to cut cake rounds. If necessary, square off the the top of the sponge (if is has domed) to flatten for stacking.
Repeat the icing and stacking process for these two layers - (Be extra careful to avoid too many crumbs getting mixed into the icing layer. Or if easier, add a thin ‘crumb’ coat of icing to each small cake (chilling to firm up) before you put them on the main cake, and then add a second icing layer when placed on the main cake).
To decorate the tree
Decorate the cake with glittery sweets, truffles, candy canes and the chocolate star, as you wish. Use the 'ledges' between each cake layer to sit baubles and push stars into the icing round the sides of the cake levels.
Store at room temperature and eat within about 5 to 6 days. Once cut, try to cover the cut areas to avoid drying.
* Note: nutritional information is an estimate & may vary according to portion size/ingredient variants.Gluten Free Alchemist Rice Free Flour Blend A can be found on the GFA Flours & Flour BlendingPage. If using an alternative flour blend, the texture may vary.