Chocolate raspberry birthday cake


Our traditional family birthday cake is chalk-full of chocolate. But thrown in are other flavors like raspberry and coffee that make it a hit with young and old alike. I use healthy ingredients besides chocolate, like coconut palm sugar, coconut oil and eggs. The alcohol in the coffee liqueur evaporates in the baking. But if you’d rather just use a second half-cup of coffee, be my guest.

I make the two layer cakes ahead of time and freeze them. A day before the party, I let them thaw for a half hour or so. Then I cut the two layers in half while still slightly frozen. It’s easier when the cake is still a bit solid. I fill the layers with jam and whipped cream and top off with a rich icing. This filled cake stays moist for several days in the fridge, the perfect party food.

I give you two options for icings, both of which are richly delicious. The one made with avocado rather than sour cream has more of the healthier fats, but fats never the less. Both toppings are easy to whip up and have good body for spreading. Take your pick.

Hey, it’s a birthday cake, not a diet food. God made chocolate in heaven and the devil threw in the calories! But don’t let that spoil it for you. We all deserve a treat once in a while. Happy birthday!

Chocolate raspberry torte

Chocolate raspberry birthday cake


  • 2 cups (220 grams) whole-grain pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate (3 ounces total)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups coconut palm sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup coffee-flavored liqueur


  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 12-ounce jar double-the-fruit raspberry jam

Topping 1: Chocolate sour cream frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Topping 2: Chocolate avocado frosting

  • 3 ounces (110 grams) dark chocolate
  • 3/4 cup (60 ml) chocolate milk
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) coconut palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 completely ripe avocados, about 1 cup or 225 grams
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder, about 25 grams


  • fresh raspberries
  • candles

Chocolate raspberry torte

Make the cake layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans and  cut parchment paper circles to fit bottoms of pans.
  3. Wisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  4. Chop chocolate into pieces and melt it in the top of a double boiler. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Be careful not to get any water in the chocolate or it will curdle.
  5. In a large bowl, beat coconut oil, sugar and eggs at high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 min. Beat in melted chocolate and add vanilla. At low speed beat in flour in fourths, alternating with sour cream in thirds. Add coffee and liqueur, blending until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into pans and bake 30-35 min or until surface springs back. Cool in pans for 10 min, then remove from pans and cool on wire racks. When completely cooled, wrap in foil and store in the freezer until the day before the party.

Fill the layers

  1. Slice the two cake layers in half horizontally to make four thin layers (easier if still slightly frozen).
  2. Beat the cream until stiff.
  3. Place one layer with its cut side up on cake platter. Spread with 1/2 cup raspberry jam, then 1/2 cup sweetened whipped cream.
  4. Repeat with remaining layers, ending with the top layer placed cut side down.

Frost the cake with the sour cream topping (option 1)

  1. Melt chocolate chips in top of double boiler.
  2. Add sour cream (with a dash of salt) and stir gently until creamy and smooth.
  3. Work quickly while icing is still warm to frost sides and top of cake. Do the sides first and finish with the top. Use a wide spatula.
  4. Garnish with fresh berries and candles.

Frost the cake with the avocado topping (option 2)

  1. Melt the chocolate in top of double boiler. Stir in the milk, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Scoop out the avocado flesh and put it into a food processor. Add cocoa powder and blend.
  3. Add warm chocolate mixture to the avocado puree. Blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl until no green flecks of avocado can be seen. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed.
  4. Add more milk if the icing is too thick to spread, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Work quickly while icing is still warm to frost sides and top of cake. Do the sides first and finish with the top. Use a wide spatula.
  6. Garnish with fresh berries and candles.
Karen's cake

May one of your gifts be a pony



Banana ice cream desserts two ways

Strawberry banana ice cream

A nutritional bonanza from our friendly banana

This dessert is so good, people call it Nice Cream. The riper the banana, the sweeter the dessert.

Ripe bananas also have higher levels of antioxidants, which as any frequent reader of Vinny’s blog will know, fight chronic disease and inflammation.

One interesting thing about fully ripened bananas is that they also produce a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).  TNF combats abnormal cells to help shrink cancer tumors.  The more dark patches a banana has, the higher its ability to fight this dastardly disease. If you are a diabetic, fruit contains significant amounts of natural sugar and you have to watch your portion size.

Banana ice cream is the perfect way to use your over-ripe bananas. Cut three ripe bananas in coins and freeze them in a sealable plastic baggie overnight or until you need them. When you feel the urge for something sweet, whip up one of these delicious desserts in no time.

Banana ice cream, two ways
Each recipe makes 2 cups or four 1/2-cup servings

Strawberry banana ice cream

Raspberry banana ice cream with a strawberry on top

Very berry ice cream

  • 3 bananas, cut in coins and frozen
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries (frozen strawberries or blueberries work well, too)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberry banana ice cream

Store your banana ice cream in plastic food containers with lids.

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour contents into a 2- or 3-cup plastic food container with lid.
  3. Freeze one hour or until solid.
  4. Spoon into a bowl and add toppings if you want, like fresh berries, dark chocolate curls, or chopped nuts. Avoid adding syrups or candy to keep the added sugar down.

Per serving: 107 Cal, 14 grams natural sugar, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, 0.4 grams fat

Chocolate banana icecream

Chocolate banana ice cream with peanut butter.

Chocolate peanut butter cup

  • 3 bananas, cut in coins and frozen
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour contents into a 2- or 3-cup plastic food container with lid.
  3. Freeze one hour or until solid.
  4. Spoon into a bowl and add toppings if you want, like fresh berries, dark chocolate curls, chopped nuts, or chopped dry fruit.

Per serving: 157 Cal, 20 grams natural sugar, 4 grams fiber, 3.8 grams fat

Chocolate banana icecream

Recipe notes

I froze my ice cream for 4 hours before trying it. It was solid but still easily spoonable. If yours gets too hard to spoon, leave it on the counter for 10 minutes first.

The recipe calls for milk, and I usually use skim. But you can use soy or almond milk, and anywhere from 2% cow’s or goat’s milk to whipping cream. Even chocolate milk would be nice in the chocolate desserts. That’s what I used here. The flavor and texture varies with the milk you use.

I avoid high-fat milk products because I can’t afford the calories and I’m leery of saturated animal fats. Use whatever milk you normally like and go from there.

There are no added sweeteners in these recipes.  I think you’ll find the ripe bananas provide all the sweetness you need. But if your family likes it sweeter, try adding stevia. It works well in these kinds of desserts. Add the equivalent of a tablespoon of sugar and go from there.

But do try it without sweetener first. Avoiding extra sugar is the one best thing you can do for your family’s health. You’ll be surprised how good it is. I know I was.

How does it taste?

I loved the flavors of both desserts. I was surprised how chocolaty the chocolate peanut butter cup was. The texture reminds me of fruit sorbets rather than rich ice creams. But that might change if you were to try yours with whipping cream instead of skim milk. The younger set in our family gave both flavors an unqualified high five.

Chocolate banana icecream

Simple desserts are sometimes the best.

The Night Circus: Black-and-white torte with raspberries at centre ring

The clock chimes 4a.m. at the Night Circus and bonfire is burning strong, fed by Marco's book of charms.

The clock chimes 4 a.m. at the Night Circus. Her bonfire burns strong, fed by Marco’s book of charms.

“What’s black and white with red in the middle?” Vinny asks.  “Give up? It’s the cake I made for my book club, when Erin Morgenstern’s novel “The Night Circus” was up for discussion.

On the surface, Morgenstern gives us an enchanting love story about magic. The circus, open only at night, shimmers in black and white. It is the venue for a desperate competition, as two wizards older than time pit themselves against one another through their best students. The light and the dark signify their two opposing ways of manipulating reality. Which will win out, Vinny wonders. More

Jubilation! A royal cake for Canada Day

Oh, Canada!

Our home and native land is celebrating a birthday! Isla says: We need to bake a cake. Of  course we do. I should have thought of that myself!

First, I thought about making a Victoria sponge cake, named after an old by-gone queen. But it  doesn’t make the grade as a food suitable for posting here, where we like to feature healthy eating for kids of all ages… Darn!

Then I made a wonderful discovery. More

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