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Chocolate Agave Layer Cake

Chocolate Agave Layer Cake

Honey can be a great ingredient to bake with because it really adds a lot of moisture to things. It also helps to keep baked goods moist over time, so a cake or bread that has honey in it will often taste fresher than one without after it has been stored for a couple of days. Agave syrup, or agave nectar, has this moisturizing property, as well, and I took advantage of it by including it in this chocolate cake recipe.

The chocolate cake is a fairly basic one, the kind that I would have wanted to have a giant slice of after school when I was little. It is more substantial than some cakes, somewhere halfway between a very fluffy cake and a pound cake, but is very moist and tender. Agave syrup replaces some, but not all, of the sugar in the recipe. I found that the finished cake had a slightly better texture when some sugar was still used. The agave sweetener doesn’t have a strong flavor profile and is even more subtle than honey, so you can’t taste any unusual flavors in the cake to detract from the chocolate

For the frosting, I went with cream cheese. I generally prefer cream cheese frostings because they’re a bit more interesting to my tastes than a regular buttercream. I debated about using honey or agave syrup in the frosting, wondering whether I should opt for the more flavorful ingredient or stick with the same sweetener I used in the cake. Ultimately, I opted for honey. It matches well with the cream cheese and adds another interesting hint of flavor to the finished cake. Fee free to use agave syrup, if you like.

Be careful not to overbake this cake. As moisturizing as agave syrup can be, it also can help dry out a cake quite quickly if it is left in the oven too long. Use a toothpick to check the cake a bit early. It’s ok if a few moist – not wet – crumbs stick to the toothpick. You’ll want to pull it out of the oven before the cake really begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Chocolate Agave Layer Cake
with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup agave syrup/nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line them with circles of greased parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by agave syrup and vanilla extract.
Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the milk, before stirring in the remaining flour mixture. Mix only until just combined. Divide evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry or with some moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake.
Turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely.
Cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for a day or so if you don’t want to assemble the cake right away.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 tbsp honey
1/4 cup milk
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat at high speed until smooth, gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar until a thick and spreadable consistency is reached. More milk can be added to thin the icing, if necessary.

Level the cake layers and place one on a serving tray or cake stand. Top with 1/2 of the frosting and spread into an even layer.
Place second cake layer on top of the first and top with remaining frosting, spreading into a nice thick, even layer.
Store in an airtight container or serve.

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  • RecipeGirl
    April 18, 2008

    Yay! I’m so please to see you post about Agave syrup. I picked up some of this stuff at Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago and have been afraid to use it. It sounds like you can pretty much sub it for honey in baked goods? I’ll have to try it out. Your cake looks yummy, and I prefer a cream cheese frosting as well!

  • LINA
    April 18, 2008

    I just bought some agave nectar. I know its a healthier alternative to sugar so I want to start experimenting with it. Great to see your cake turned out yummy!

  • Deb Schiff
    April 19, 2008

    Glad to see you’re using agave. I’ve been baking with it for a while and find that I need to drop the oven temp by 25 degrees F, otherwise things tend to brown too quickly. I also use coconut flour for a small percentage of the flour to make up for all the liquid in a recipe when substituting it for sugar. Love your blog!

  • Maggie
    April 19, 2008

    The whole recipe looks great, but I think that honey cream cheese frosting will be worth trying on other cakes as well. Thanks!

  • Sasha Cohen
    April 19, 2008

    Hi there…Man i just love your blog, keep the cool posts comin..holy Saturday . Sasha Cohen

  • Melissa
    April 20, 2008

    One of my favorite blogs out there, and I visit pretty much every day. Like all your recipes, this one looks different and good. I also gave you the Blogging with a Purpose award, you’ve probably been nominated before, but I couldn’t find a recent one and this really is one of my favorite blogs. 🙂

  • Sophie
    April 20, 2008

    This looks so moist. I have been curious about Agave lately. I wasn’t sure how to bake with it, though, but I love experimenting with new ingredients. This looks so tasty 🙂

    Sophie 🙂

  • Erica
    April 21, 2008

    I hope someone will read this and help me! I want to make the neopolitan cupcakes, but I have no idea what 5/6 c. is. Anybody reading this? Help please.

  • Emiline
    April 22, 2008

    I’ve wondered about baking with agave. Thanks for the information. I’ll have to pick it up at the store. It runs about $5.00 here, which kills me.

  • mel
    August 23, 2008

    I made this cake yesterday for a friend’s birthday. It was a hit with everyone. Thanks.

  • chocopug
    November 20, 2008

    wow! i made this cake today & it’s delicious. it was for a child’s birthday party, so instead of the cc icing, which has sugar in it, i used a chocolate ganache made with grain-sweetened chocolate chips and toped it with some whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup & vanilla. the result was delicious. thank you for a great recipe!

  • Mdm Butter
    December 15, 2008

    Can I replace with ordinary honey?

  • Ali
    November 17, 2010

    I want to make this for my niece’s first bday party but need to make a yellow cake instead of chocolate. I’m not a baker by a long shot so not sure if I can just remove the cocoa and end up with an acceptable cake or are there further adjustments I’d need to make?? thanks so much – this looks so good!

  • Rebecca
    August 3, 2011

    Agave can be really pricey, but it’s less expensive if you buy it directly from the source. I prefer Xagave, and saved a great deal by purchasing it directly from their website versus the local grocery store. I would guess this would likely be true for the other brands as well.

  • Tasha
    October 24, 2011

    This is the best chocolate cake ever. You would never know it was made with agave nectar. My son loved it and wants it as his birthday cake. Thanks for posting!

  • Sue
    April 30, 2012

    just wondering, how what can I replace the confectioners sugar with? its the Sugar that I don’t want in the recipe??

  • Nicole
    April 30, 2012

    Sue – You could make this as a single layer and leave it unfrosted, if you want to skip the frosting. The confectioners’ sugar is a pretty crucial component of the cream cheese frosting, so I recommend just skipping the frosting altogether if you want to leave it out.

    You could pair the cake with ice cream, instead, or even top it with some peanut butter “frosting” as a tasty alternative.

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