As we all know, Switzerland is famous for its chocolate. I have a huge sweet tooth, so I’m delighted about living in such a beautiful, chocolate paradise. It’s hard to resist the aisle devoted to chocolate bars at the grocery store, or the two handmade chocolate shops less than 100 yards from our apartment.
At the same time, I have no problem avoiding Swiss chocolate because most, if not all, contains or has exposure to my son’s confirmed and potential allergens—milk, peanuts and tree nuts. That’s not to say I won’t buy a chocolate bar when we’re at the grocery store. We’ll just wait to eat it until he’s napping or asleep for the night. At 16 months, he’s not old enough to understand his allergies yet and why his older brother can have chocolate, but not him.
Since we’re still relatively new to these allergies, I’m learning about allergy-friendly chocolate options. My go-to chocolate substitute here is Coop’s organic cocoa, but I’m on the hunt for an allergy-friendly chocolate bar. An American living here in Switzerland recently recommended some online retailers in France that could have allergen-free chocolate and other products for us, which I have yet to check out: Allergoora, Parallerg, and Natâma.
One of my favorite allergy-friendly recipes for satisfying chocolate cravings is Crazy Cake. A neighbor in Minnesota introduced this to my mother, who made it throughout my childhood. It’s a Depression-era cake, so the cost-conscious recipe doesn’t call for any eggs or dairy. I’ve made it as a layer cake, sheet cake and Bundt. When you make it as a sheet cake, you can mix the ingredients in a 9 x 13-inch pan with a fork, which makes it fun for kids. Here’s the recipe, and it’s super easy.
1/3 cup cocoa
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla (or vanilla sugar or rum)
2 cups water
Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa into ungreased 9×13-inch cake pan.* Make three wells in the dry ingredients and add oil, vinegar and vanilla in each of the wells. Pour water over all and blend well with a fork, but do not beat. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
*Please note: For a Bundt cake, it’s easier to mix the ingredients in a bowl and then dump them into a floured Bundt pan (I recommend using cocoa powder instead of flour). You will also have to adjust the baking time to about 50-60 minutes. For a layer cake, also use floured pans and decrease the baking time to about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the pan.
Updated: July 2, 2014