Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chocolate-Walnut Cake

Several surprising ingredients go into this cake, including fresh breadcrumbs with the dry ingredients, and pureed dates in place of vegan butter. You'll also get a double-dose of omega 3s, between the walnuts and canola oil.

For the cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, divided*
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegan sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 Ener-G eggs, divided
For the glaze:
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (such as Chocolate Dream)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup (such as Wholesome Sweeteners)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan powdered sugar
1. To prepare the cake, coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with wax paper.  Coat the wax paper with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine the dates, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup boiling water, and 1 teaspoon instant coffee in a bowl; let stand for 20 minutes.

3. Place the bread slice in a food processor and pulse 10 to 11 times - coarse crumbs should measure 1/2 cup. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

4. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.  Place the flour in the food processor.  Set aside 10 of the walnuts for garnish.  Add the remaining walnuts to the flour, along with the salt; process until finely ground.  Add the flour mixture to the breadcrumbs.

5. Place the date mixture, 1/3 cup sugar, canola oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 Ener-G egg in the food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.  Add the date mixture to the breadcrumb mixture, stirring well.

6. Make the remaining 3 Ener-G eggs in a large bowl (1 and 1/2 tablespoons powder whisked into 6 tablespoons warm water); beat with a hand mixer for 12 minutes.  At the 6 minute mark, gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. By the end, you should have "stiff peaks" like beaten egg whites.

Note: The eggs here are primarily for texture, not to make the cake rise high, as in the case of angel food cake or a souffle.  The Ener-G egg mixture should transform from this:

to this:

8. Gently stir one-fourth of the beaten Ener-G mixture into the batter, then fold in the remaining beaten Ener-G mixture.

7. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes - the cake should spring back when touched lightly.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and removing the wax paper; cool completely on a wire rack.

8. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: combine 1/3 cup cocoa, the chocolate chips, 1/4 cup boiling water, the corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon instant coffee, stirring until smooth.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.

9. Gradually add the powdered sugar to the chilled cocoa mixture, beating with a hand mixer until smooth.

10. Place the cake on a plate and spread the glaze evenly over the top and sides.  Arrange the reserved 10 walnuts on top.

To round out the dessert, try serving with a scoop of your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream (I'm particularly into the coconut milk variety from So Delicious these days), and a sprinkling of fresh raspberries.

This sweet cake is also the perfect counterpart to a bitter cup of espresso or coffee.

*Toast the walnuts first in a small skillet over medium heat; cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan often to prevent burning.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1 wedge), Calories 280

Tasting Notes:
The dates make this cake incredibly dense and rich - more like a cross between a cake and a date pudding than a cake proper. The glaze on top is thick and exactly chocolate-y enough, for an overall incredible dessert in terms of taste. You might consider adding a little baking powder, to help the cake rise and cut some of the density, if you want something closer to a traditional texture. A slight deduction in my overall rating for that reason, but this is borderline "5" in terms of taste. The little walnut garnish on top is the perfect bonus on each slice. Both the vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries add a nice light counterpart to the heaviness of the cake itself, so are highly recommended. 


1 comment:

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