Skinny Black Forest Gateau with “visinata” (cherry liqueur)

no sugar…no flour…no fat… way?


This reworked classic shows brilliantly that healthy eating is in fact all about packing in more taste and more flavours and eating more things – yayy!! Its full on taste and mouth feel and a fully paid up member of the “seriously chocolately” club.  It just happens to contain zucchini in place of  fats, lots and lots of antioxidant rich chocolate and ground nuts in place of flour and whisked eggs for protein and importantly lightness. This number definitely does not belong in the “tastes like sawdust but I’ll eat it because its healthy” club. Oh no, not at all.

The jam inside is also a new experiment made with a fruit juice concentrate – more on this coming soon.  And the frosting is a mix of mascarpone and cream cheese (obviously not fat free) gently mixed with a meringue made with a sugar substitute.  The frosting is up to you tho’ – I often mix cream cheese, mascarpone and honey without bothering with the puffy puffy version just depends what mood I am in and how much time I have, although if you need to make it in advance, the meringue will stabilise the frosting and stop any weeping. And there is nothing worse than a weeping frosting.

Gadgets & Gizmos

An electric whisk.  Baking tins with removable bottoms. Baking paper. A blender. Electric scales – get serious about baking.


Ingredients – for 1 x 20cm circular 5cm deep baking tin

If you want to make two for the full gateau just double.  If you want a dessert say for a family dinner, one quantity should be sufficient.

  • 300g puree of raw zucchini – the types with the pale skins I prefer, with the skins on.  If the puree looks a bit too watery just sit it on a sieve and let the excess water run off a bit
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 112ml of agave nectar (unfortunately named German product we buy here which I better not refer to as a tongue twister) or 100g of the splenda type half volume sugar replacements , I know its half but I am saying 100, or 150g sugar, or 112ml honey.  Note: The agave nectar is the one that I used in this one pictured.
  • 75 g ground almonds or hazlenuts or walnuts – I use whatever I have lying around and always grind them up in a blender.  Grind up about 80-85 g as some sticks in the blender – I always eat some along the way so allow 100g to start with and blend them skins and all (and sometimes shells as well if you buy your nuts at the market which adds an unmistakeable crunch to the final cake).
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch “amidon” (cornflour) or rice flour or potato flour
  • 100g of really good cocoa powder – do use the most expensive you can find as this will be a guide to quality, read taste and goodness. btw it will look like quite a lot.
  • 115g dark chocolate minimum 72% cocoa. No skimping on bad quality chocolate.  Extra chocolate approx 20-30g for grating (which is not the same as nibbling)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • Half a jar of no added sugar cherry jam either home made or a brand such as Dalfour
  • 1 quantity of mascarpone & cream cheese frosting (if making the 2 x cakes with frosting as shown)
  • a good quantity of kirsch or “visinata” the local sour cherry liqueur widely made in Romania – according to personal taste

How To

Prepare your tins. I know this sounds boring but its more boring watching your cake mixture deflate while you run around trying to remember where you left the scissors…  and set the oven to 170C

1. Blend your nuts and set aside

2. In the same blender without washing it up and wasting water and resources and time blend the zucchini.

3. place the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of warming water on the stove to melt.

4. Check the chocolate.

5. Now start the big whisking action. Add your sweetener of choice to the whole eggs and whisk on max. You want a foam that leaves a trail. It should look like a big sponge and full of air.


6. Now carefully add the wet ingredients first to the egg foam (zucchini puree, vanilla essence and melted chocolate) carefully folding them in taking extreme care not to knock out any air.

7. Now sieve over the cocoa (keeps lightness and stops lumps) and add the nuts and cornstarch (you can also sieve this too if it looks a bit lumpy). Again fold in gently avoiding knocking the air out.

8. When the mixture is incorporated pour into your tin(s) again gently taking care not to knock them as you lose air


9. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean – this is a moist cake and it will firm up after cooking.  In fact, if you can resist, its much better to leave the cake overnight in the tin and turn out the next day as it really is a very fragile thing. Treat it gently.

10.  Turn your cakes out once they are cool and like I said, this is really better one day after.

11. To make the full cake place on your serving plate and dribble (or slosh as you prefer) over the visinata.  Next  spread 1/3 of the frosting on the bottom layer and then drop splodges of the jam over it.  Now place the fresh  stoned (the cherries not you) fruit on the frosting too. Now carefully place the second layer of cake over the first layer trying your best to line them up. It helps if you are tall. I’m not. More drops of alcohol now. However, while I am in the “trifles soaked with alcohol school of alcoholic cake making camp” – I do know that a cake so soaked with alcohol will fall apart so even I go easy on the alcohol at this stage.

Now this is where the lightness of the cake starts to work.  A heavier cake at this point would see cherries being squidged out and pinging all over the kitchen floor and the white middle layer disappearing but no this cake balances nicely on top of the fruit and frosting middle layer.

Now the top.  Gently swirl the final frosting in artistic swirls. I like grated chocolate.  If I’m feeling cheffy I can do chocolate curls but I don’t always have time.  I like cherries on top with the stalks on.

That’s it. A classic just lightened up a little but with more I think rather than less flavour. have a go and tell me what you think! I would love to hear from you

Nutritional Stuff

Sugar can be replaced by low GI agave nectar or a sugar replacement such as “Splenda” or here in Romania a new one called “Steviolina” or maple syrup if you are sensitive to fructose or the the gentle beauty of honey (just remember tho’ it is a sugar).  As I do not like over sweet desserts all my recipes are adjusted for less sweet substances  whether that be sugar or sugar substitute. Use what suits you and you are comfortable with…I often make with agave nectar or honey for example.

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