The Merits of the Mise en Place (and chocolate cake)

Mandarin Chocolate Cake_7395_wm_2x3One of the best tips I could give to anyone who is new to baking (or even those who are more experienced) is to prepare their mise en place before mixing and baking.

My mise en what? I hear you ask.

Your mise en place … all your ingredients weighed and measured out before you start adding and mixing batter, dough, icing, whatever.  Everything ready before you go nuts with the appliances and utensils and engage full Swedish Chef Muppet mode 🙂


Because weighing and setting out all your ingredients on your workbench before you start adding ingredients and mixing will drastically reduce the chance of making a mistake.  Even if you’re an old hand at baking, it’s good practice.  Even if you’ve made a recipe a bazillion times, it’s still worth doing.  Because there is always that one time.  That one time when you’re going to get distracted because you are stressed, are busy thinking about the other trillion things you have on your mind, you have children calling you, the phone is ringing, or you’re constantly checking Facebook, Instagram, or whichever social media platform is your poison, when you should be paying attention to what you’re doing 😉

Make it a priority when baking.  I promise it will become a habit you will never want to break.

Oh, you noticed I said to weigh your ingredients.  Yes, I did, indeed.  I know some of you love to measure ingredients in cups (hello, North America!) but for baking, weighing your ingredients (in grams or ounces) will ensure you have a reproducible result every time.  One hundred grams of flour will always be one hundred grams of flour whereas one cup of flour will vary from time to time, sometimes significantly.  The same applies to anything you measure using cups.

Conversion from grams to ounces (or vice versa) is also super easy.  One ounce = twenty-eight grams.  Every time.  For every ingredient.  You never need special tables to look it up.  But to make life easier for you, I have a nifty conversion calculator on the right hand side column, usually next to the post and recipe.

Invest in a set of kitchen scales.  They are affordable, easy to use (most have a variety of units), and you will never look back.  I promise.

You’ll need something worth testing out these new tips and habits, of course.  So, here’s a lovely and healthy chocolate cake to tempt you!

It is very easy to throw together, super moist and both chocolate and citrusy.  For those of us experiencing the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, mandarins are a little burst of sunshine.  You can substitute tangelo or oranges for the mandarins but do use them if you can.

Use a good quality cacao powder for this recipe.  I used Valrhona cacao poudre for its silky rich flavour.

I’ve provided the macronutrient breakdown for the sugar-free version of the recipe for those of you, like me, who need to know 😉

I normally make this recipe with caster sugar but I love it with the Natvia!  It’s just as good, possibly better.

While it’s not a high protein cake, it is certainly macro friendly, without sacrificing any of its deliciousness.

If you’re a subscriber to the blog, check your inbox for some great cookbook deals from yours truly and from the awesome Michelle Koen at Healthy Helpings!


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Mandarin Chocolate Cake_7398_wm_2x3

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Mandarin Glaze

Yield: 1 x 22cm cake / Serves 8

Serving Size: 1/8 cake

Calories per serving: 128kCals

Protein: 5g

Total Fat: 10g

Saturated fat: 2g

Carbohydrates: 4g

Fibre: 2g

Sugars: 1g

Sodium: 97mg

This is yet another one of my oil based cakes but a much lighter and macro-friendly one. It is incredibly moist and based on a traditional cocoa powder cake. I have used both olive oil and macadamia nut oil in this cake, both with wonderful results. This version is made with macadamia nut oil, giving the cake a lovely, slightly buttery flavour. I have made this as a sugar free version this time and it is wonderful. But, traditionally, I would use sugar. Either way, it is the shizz 🙂 Sugar free, it becomes appropriate for anyone who is a diabetic, on low carbohydrate macros, or watching their overall sugar intake. It is also suitable for those on a low FODMAP diet. Do not overbake this cake. Test it around the 45 minute mark. You want the cake to be cooked but still have sticky crumbs on a skewer when tested.


Mandarin Chocolate Cake

50 grams unsweetened cacao powder

85 grams boiling water

50 grams mandarin juice, freshly squeezed

38 grams olive oil (or macadamia nut oil)

54 grams egg yolk*

165 grams granulated stevia sweetener (I used Natvia Baking) OR sugar

2 grams mandarin zest, finely grated

150 grams almond meal (flour)

pinch of sea salt

105 grams egg white*

Mandarin Glaze

20 grams mandarin juice, freshly squeezed

2 grams mandarin zest, finely grated

50 grams stevia icing mix (I used Natvia Icing Mix) OR pure icing sugar


Mandarin Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 165℃.

Line the base and sides of a 22cm (9 inch) round springform tin with silicone baking paper, and set aside.

Weigh and measure out your ingredients.

Note that the egg yolk and white amounts are the equivalent of three large eggs (about 59 grams in the shell).

Place the cacao powder in a small bowl. Add the boiling water and mix until you have a thin paste.

Add the mandarin juice and oil and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sweetener (or sugar), and mandarin zest until thick and pale and increased in volume.

Gently fold in half the almond meal, alternating with the cacao paste, and ending with almond meal, until incorporated.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and sea salt until soft peak stage.

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Take care to not deflate the whites too much.

They provide the leavening for the cake.

Transfer the cake batter to the prepared tin.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is cooked and a skewer comes out with moist, sticky crumbs still sticking to it.

Do not overbake this cake.

Let cool and remove from the tin.

Mandarin Glaze

Place the mandarin juice in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the Icing Mix (or icing sugar). The glaze should be pourable.

Transfer the glaze to a small piping bag (or use a zip lock bag).

Snip off the end to allow for a small opening through which to pipe the glaze.

Pipe or drizzle the glaze over the cake as liberally as you like.

This cake keeps for several days, stored airtight at room temperature.


NB: The nutritional profile relates to the recipe made with Natvia stevia blend sweeteners and using macadamia nut oil. Dietary fibre is included in the total carbohydrate amount.

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