Lemon Almond Cake with Chocolate Strawberry Port Wine Sauce

by Jenn on June 1, 2009

in Dairy Free,Desserts,Gluten Free,Wine

GF Lemon Almond Cake

My husband and I were both super excited when Starbucks came out with their gluten free orange cake, and since then have indulged in many more :)  However, my father in law can’t have oranges due to the crazy number of allergies he has developed along with his gluten issues, and I wanted to create a similar cake for him to enjoy.  I came across this recipe for homemade Starbucks GF orange cake, and after some motivational encouragement from Elana over twitter, decided to try it out using lemons instead.  The result came out great.  Instead of using 2 oranges, I used 3 lemons.  The result was probably not as sweet as the original cake since lemons tend to be quite a bit more tart, and so to make up for that rather than play with the recipe much I just decided to create a sweet tasty sauce to serve on top that I thought would contrast and thus complement the lemon cake well.

Thus started a 4 hr long labor of love that I think is going to have to become my signature dessert sauce – chocolate strawberry port wine sauce!  Good for you all, I like to share my food and recipes because I believe others should be able to make yummy food too – if I were a recipe hoarder, this would totally be my secret sauce :) I may still work on it to get it more perfect, but as simple as this sauce is, it comes pretty close.  And you can use it on anything!  Waffles, crepes, ice cream, brownies, just spoonfuls for random dessert cravings, I am still coming up with ideas :)


Chocolate Strawberry Port Wine Sauce

1 overflowing qt. AWESOME strawberries
1 bottle port
1/4 cup b. sugar
4 oz. GOOD semisweet chocolate, chopped – you can find dairy free chocolate if you need to

1. Wash and cut the strawberries in half, and puree them in a food processor until they are smooth.  This also, just pureed strawberries, is fantastic to eat.  It is really important that you use AWESOME strawberries.  The strawberries I used were fresh from my farmer’s market and are possibly the best strawberries I have ever had.  They are sweet, they are full of flavor, and not watery or bland.  If you have watery or bland strawberries, I make no guarantees about this sauce.  I have noticed that organic strawberries tend to have more flavor than conventional ones, just as a general rule.  If you can’t get fresh local ones, I suggest forking out the $$$ for organic ones.  Besides, strawberries are on the dirty dozen list of having the highest concentrations of pesticides on and in them, so you are better off buying organic anyways.
2. In a large splayed (i.e. the pot edges slope out) pot that is fairly heat sensitive (I used my 1.7 qt. splayed copper pot), pour in one bottle of port.  You don’t have to use crazy expensive port here (a $10 bottle is fine).  I used a tawny because I like the tawny flavor best.  Yes, the whole bottle.  You are going to turn the heat up so that it simmers, and let it simmer until you get a rich syrupy consistency.  I reduced about 4-5 cups of port down to about 1/2 cup.  This took over an hour alone.  You don’t want to simply boil it all away, you need most of it to come off as steam, and let it reduce down SLOWLY.  Every few minutes, go and stir it and make sure it’s happy.  When it’s ready, it will start to become a bit thicker and get a syrupy consistency.
3. Once your port is reduced, gradually whisk in 1/2 cup at a time of the strawberry puree. At this point I never left the sauce alone.  I kept whisking while the strawberry puree was incorporated in with the wine, and then let it reduce more until it became thick and syrupy.  Once it reduced down, I would whisk in another 1/2 cup of strawberries until all the strawberry was mixed in and reduced.  In the end my total volume was about 1 3/4 – 2 cups sauce.

So you start with bright red strawberry purée, and you end with reddish brown port & strawberry goodness:

4. At this point, I gradually added in the brown sugar, and stirred with the whisk until it was all blended in and dissolved.  You really don’t need much more than that.  I suppose you could use white sugar here, but brown sugar just has a great flavor.
5. Remove  the pan from the heat, and whisk in very quickly the chopped chocolate.  Again with needing GOOD chocolate here.  Don’t use Hershey’s please!!! If you must use a “cheapo” brand, use Nestle.  It is the best cheaply available chocolate for melting.  I personally am a Scharffenberger or Valrhonagirl.  Because the sauce is so hot, the chocolate pieces should melt and become part of the sauce very quickly.


When my husband tasted this, he said each flavor came out in your mouth – first the strawberry, then the chocolate, and finally the subtle port, and yet still all at once.  Magic.  This sauce is pure magic.  And if you have the time to devote to it, it is so worth it.  And it works awesome on GF lemon cake, because like I have been saying, strawberries and lemons were meant to be married with each other.  I can’t wait til it becomes raspberry season later this summer and I can try this again with raspberries! I see so much potential for this sauce, it is great.  It will definitely find a home in my regular repertoire.


Beautiful Mess June 1, 2009 at 5:20 am

That looks really yummy! Can you come over to my house and teach me how to cook, like THAT?! I’m fairly competent at boring recipes but if it’s fancy, count me out! Although I really want to know how to cook fancy things!
So buy a ticket to Oregon and you may leave in a week. I’m sure your husband and your boss won’t mind at all ;o)

brannyboilsover June 1, 2009 at 5:45 am

And thus a “cook” becomes a “chef.” Congrats!

Ellie June 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm

What an elegant dessert!

elly June 1, 2009 at 10:44 pm

This sounds like one delicious sauce! I can only imagine how great all the flavors taste together.

Linda June 2, 2009 at 12:17 am

Sounds and looks delicious. I’m glad you experimented and came up with something your father in law could enjoy. We like lemon desserts so I might give the lemon version a try.

Alexandra September 17, 2011 at 8:52 am

Hi – has the lemon almond cake recipe been removed? I only find the recipe for the sauce!

Jenn September 17, 2011 at 8:59 am

In the headnotes of this post contains a description of the cake, a link to the original recipe, and what changes I made to it. I did not republish Elana’s recipe as I didn’t sufficiently modify it to call it my own – it really is her cake, and found on her blog :)

Alexandra September 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

thanks for the speedy reply!
Enjoy this last bit of summer (if you’ve got it too) – Veneto is cooling by Monday. Cheers

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