Gluten-free Chocolate-covered Clementine & Cardamom Cake

Deliciously moist and squidgy cake achieved by boiling clementines. This Dairy-free, Gluten-free and Paleo recipe is made with ground almonds and honey.

Gluten-free Chocolate-covered Clementine & Cardamom Cake

Most fruits use their skin to signal ripeness – if you peel a green banana, you know the flesh will be bitter and starchy. Citrus fruits are more inscrutable, cloaked in a shiny, dimpled peel which leaves little clue as to whether your peeling endeavours will be rewarded with plump, juicy segments or dried up husks.

The enticing shine comes from oil glands in the peel, which secrete fragrant essential oils – and yet this is the part of the fruit that we routinely discard. The full potential of citrus fruits are reached when the sweet, juicy flesh is allied to the bitter, aromatic peel and pith. My recipe uses whole clementines, skin and all, which is made possible by boiling for two hours to soften and remove some of the bitterness. The result is a super moist cake that can be served as a dessert or enjoyed as an afternoon slice.

cooking time
1 cake
Gluten-free Chocolate-covered Clementine & Cardamom Cake


  • 420g clementines (about 3), green stalks removed (or 1 organic orange if you cannot find)
  • 1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds (about 12 pods)
  • 2 3/4 cups (250g) ground almonds
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 7/8 cup (236g) honey

for greasing the cake tin:

  • olive oil

for the chocolate frosting:

  • 160g dark chocolate(70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (52.5g) coconut oil (preferably the mild, flavourless type)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) almond milk


  1. Simmer the clementines. Put the clementines in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place a plate with a smaller diameter than the pan on top to weigh down the clementines. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 hours. Drain, then slice into quarters. Remove any pips, then place the whole lot – skin, flesh and pith – into a food processor and blitz until smooth. You can make this ahead, as the puree will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  2. Bake the cake. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Lightly grease the sides of a 20cm/8″ round, deep and loose-bottomed cake tin with olive oil, and line the bottom with baking paper.
  3. Break open the cardamom pods by crushing with the broad side of a heavy knife. Shake out the seeds and discard the pods. Tip into a spice grinder, and grind until finely ground (if you do not have a spice grinder, then use a pestle and mortar or the small bowl of a food processor).
  4. Tip the ground cardamom seeds into a bowl, and measure out the remaining dry ingredients into the same bowl (ground almonds and salt).
  5. In a large mixing bowl, measure out the wet ingredients (clementine puree, egg yolks and honey).
  6. Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk with an electric whisk for 2 minutes, until soft peaks form.
  7. Mix the wet ingredients until blended using the same whisk. Add the dry ingredients, and stir until blended using a wooden spoon.
  8. Lighten the mixture by stirring in one-third of the whisked egg whites. Tip in the rest of the egg whites and gently fold in using a spatula: cut down the centre with the side edge of the spatula; scrape across the bottom of the bowl and up the side, scooping up the mixture as you go so that it is turned over and under; rotate the bowl 90° and repeat until fully blended. Be careful not to overwork the mixture and knock out the air, but make sure the bitter egg white is fully blended.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Smooth the top with the back of a wetted metal spoon. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes, until the top is springy to the touch. Rest a sheet of tin foil on top after 40 minutes, to avoid over-browning.
  10. Wait until the cake has cooled for 20 minutes before running a palette knife around the sides and turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
  11. Frost the cake. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, make the chocolate frosting. Place the chocolate, coconut oil and almond milk in a heatproof bowl, and set over a pan of simmering water. Do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water, or any steam to come into contact with the chocolate, as this will cause the chocolate to seize into a grainy lump (so use a bowl that has a wider diameter than the pan). Stir until completely melted and blended.
  12. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring and checking the consistency every 5 minutes. Once the chocolate frosting is thick but spreadable, remove from the refrigerator. If you go past this point and the chocolate is too firm, start again by re-melting over the pan.
  13. Cut a square of baking paper. Cut in half, and place the two rectangles  on a cake stand / dinner plate, so that they are slightly overlapping. Place the cake on top of the baking paper. Spoon the chocolate frosting on top of the cake, and spread using a palette knife dipped into a mug of just-boiled water to get a smooth finish. Once set, gently tease out the baking paper from under the cake to reveal a spotlessly clean cake stand.
  14. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. The cake will keep for up to a week.

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