So many people hate Valentine’s Day, but I adore it. I love any excuse to dress up, eat a fancy meal, and indulge in an epic dessert. Not like I need an excuse, but I really just love any reason to celebrate. Each year, I try to do something special. I usually take a friend on a “date” – a movie, a nice dinner, cute outfits, a smokey eye… you know the drill. I’m not sure exactly why I love Valentine’s Day so much. I think it’s because I love love. Love makes me happy. Being around it, seeing other people in it… it’s just infectious. How can people not like LOVE?!
When I think of Valentine’s Day, my mind immediately goes to two foods – chocolate and strawberries. Is that just me? Recently I realized that I want to push my cooking and baking skills in two ways. First, low or no sugar dessert options. Second, making things I don’t usually make. Chocolate is always my default. It’s so delicious. You can put chocolate on anything and it will automatically taste good. To get out of my comfort zone, instead of going the chocolate route this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d go with the strawberry route. Besides, there are plenty of chocolate recipes out there for Valentine’s Day. And let’s be honest, we all know I’ll have plenty more chocolate recipes comin’ throughout the year, anyways.
Choosing strawberry shortcake was a no brainer. (Well, I did have my roommates vote on it just to make sure, but I had secretly already chosen before I got their answers.) I have a lot of fond memories when it comes to strawberry shortcake. I used to eat it at my grandma’s house, but it was literally just angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries piled on top. Looking back, that sounds disgusting and was pretty lame. At the time, though, I loved it. It was a classic grandma move.
What I was really craving, though, was an actual cake. When you look up strawberry shortcake, I guess it’s not technically supposed to be a legit cake. Shortcake is more of like a sweet biscuit. Fine, but I want a cake. So I’m pretending that shortcake is just a regular cake.
I also wanted more of a regular frosting – not just whipped cream on top. Whipped frosting sounds much better. On real cake. It’s like strawberry shortcake’s sexy, more mature older sister. I also decided to throw a strawberry jam in between the two cake layers to give it some extra oomph. Some sliced strawberries on top of a cake just doesn’t do it for me. I need some more, ya know?
The frosting is literally crack. Ideally, you want to wait, like a normal person, until the cake is cool to put the frosting on. I made this at 11 PM the other night and NEEDED TO GET IT IN MY MOUTH, so I frosted the cake while it was still hot, and the frosting basically melted into it. It ended up tasting delicious and hardening like icing later on, but still. I later added more frosting to the top so it was more like a normal cake with normal frosting. Either way, freakin’ delicious.
Let’s get on to the best part of this cake – it’s sugar free. The sweetener in the cake itself is Lakanto monk-fruit sweetener, which I’ve been experimenting with a lot recently and have completely fallen in love with for baking. Lakanto is a mix of monk fruit extract and non-GMO erythritol, which means it’s a ZERO glycemic sweetener! It also has no calories, but I don’t really care about that. Lakanto is so great because it doesn’t raise your blood sugar or insulin levels like normal sugar does. In case you didn’t know, that’s why sugar sucks. It raises your insulin levels too high and sends your body on a rollercoaster, which can lead to increased cravings, hunger, and fat storage, among other things.
For the jam, I didn’t even use a sweetener. I just used some lemon juice to bring out the natural flavor of the strawberries. Trust me, strawberries are plenty sweet themselves.
The frosting contains just a bit of honey, which provides the perfect texture and sweetness. You could probably sub this out for some powdered coconut sugar or other sweetener if you want, but maple syrup probably wouldn’t work with the texture.
I’ve also been really fascinated with naked cakes ever since Jen Glantz mentioned them on one of our more recent podcast episodes. Originally I was going to frost this like a normal cake, but then I realized how cool it looks with the sides slightly more naked so the strawberry jam filling oozes out. NOOOMMMMM.
This strawberry shortcake is light, fluffy, moist, and utterly delicious. It’s the perfect cake for any occasion, and a great alternative to chocolate on Valentine’s Day. I mean, it looks pretty extravagant. The thing is, though, it’s super easy. There are three parts, but each has minimal ingredients and is a pretty brainless process to carry out. You just kinda slop it all together and call it a day.
Because I’m a “go big or go home” kinda girl, I doubled the recipe from what most normal people would make so that it would be extra tall and extravagant. If you want a huge cake, you can double this recipe to make it how I made it, but you can definitely just make the regular recipe and have two smaller layers if you don’t need a 10 foot tall cake.
This cake definitely brings me back to my childhood, but gives it a new twist. It’s still light and airy, but it tastes like real, wholesome ingredients. Not artificial cool whip. Who would’ve thought that a paleo, sugar-free, low carb cake could taste this good? I mean, I would’ve. But now you have to believe me.
Paleo, Sugar-Free Strawberry Shortcake
Total Time: 1 hour
** In the photos I made two large layers, and this cake was huge. This is the recipe for a single layer, which you could split between two pans for a more regular-sized cake. If you want a giant cake like in the photos, double the cake recipe twice (the filling and frosting recipes will remain the same).
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup Lakanto monkfruit sweetener
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 3/4 cup almond milk (or other dairy-free milk)
- 2 cups strawberries
- 16 ounces strawberries (about 3 cups…one container at the store)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Juice from one lemon
- 3 cans of chilled coconut milk (chill in fridge overnight if possible, or for 6-8 hours. Or you could put it in the freezer for an hour if you’re on a time crunch like me…)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tbsp coconut flour
- Preheat your oven to 350* F. Grease two 9-inch round pans with coconut oil.
- Add all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl and mix them together until well combined.
- Pour half of the mixture in one pan, and half in the other.
- Put in the oven for about 30 minutes (35 minutes if making two full sized layers), or until a toothpick/fork/knife comes out clean and the top is puffed up.
- While the cakes are baking, make the strawberry filling and the vanilla frosting. Slice the strawberries for the top of the cake.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
- Place one layer down on a cake stand or plate. Cut the very top of the layer with a knife to make it as flat as possible. Cover the cake with a thin layer of frosting.
- Cover the thin layer of frosting with the strawberry jam until the entire layer is covered with the filling.
- Add the second layer on top of the first. Frost the top of the cake with the vanilla frosting. Frost as much of the sides with the frosting as you want. You can leave the sides naked, cover them completely, or just do parts.
- Add as many sliced strawberries to the top of the cake as you want!
- Slice and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in the fridge, covered.
- Wash the strawberries and chop them up into small pieces. Add them into a saucepan on medium heat and cover with a lid. Let the strawberries simmer for about 5 minutes.
- As the strawberries soften, take a wooden spoon and smash them so it starts to look like jam. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Add in the chia seeds and stir them in until they are evenly distributed.
- Allow the mixture to continue to heat up for another 5 minutes or so, until a jam-like consistency starts to form.
- Once it looks like jam, remove from the heat and put in the fridge until you’re ready to add it to your cake.
Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
- Open the refrigerated coconut milk cans and pour out the liquid. You can either save it for something else, like a smoothie, or toss it if you don’t want it. Put the heavy cream that’s left over at the bottom of the can into a large bowl.
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla into the bowl.
- Use a hand mixer to mix all of the ingredients together until they are whipped and well combined. Store the frosting in the fridge until ready to use.
If you try this out, be sure to tag me in a photo! I promise you – this does not disappoint. Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!