Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quick no-bake chocolate ginger cake

Do you remember going to birthday parties when you were young? The thrill of that morning, the arrival at your friend's house, when all the other kids would flock to greet you and would then take you by the hand and carry you away from your parents, who'd be wandering off with the other parents toward another corner of the house where there'd be chatting and martini glasses, while you'd be off to much more exciting water balloons and running games. And then, as the party drew to an end, everyone would turn a bit lethargic and gloomy, and the games would be lessened by a note of sadness because it would soon be time to go. But fortunately, there was always cake to cheer everyone up. And it always did, because despite all its offences to do with calories and sugar and cholesterol and food coloring and whatnot, cake has an irresistible lure of instant gratification. Were those birthdays any different for you?

The other day I made a cake that I'm planning to make again on my birthday. It really was that good. This is one of Kim Snyder's recipes, but I don't have a food processor so I tweaked the recipe a bit to work for me. I especially love the concept of making a raw cake, because this also means: no flour! What? Cake without flour's blasphemy, you're thinking. Well, not exactly. This particular recipe uses almonds and walnuts as a base and coconut nectar to hold the whole thing together. Ah, and avocado to make the frosting! I'd like to have a slice of this every day for the rest of my life, please.

Raw chocolate ginger cake
~ serves 6

1 cup almonds
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup raw cacao (actual cacao powder, not hot chocolate mix or some other sugary powder)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp grated ginger root
3 Tbsp coconut nectar (or thick maple syrup; don't use agave)
5 Medjool dates, pitted and minced
1/8 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla

1 small avocado, scooped out
3 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp raw cacao
1/4 cup coconut nectar (or maple syrup)

Before we begin: this is not a pretty process, especially if you don't have the right tools. You need muscle and it will get messy. If you feel like giving up, you just have to tell yourself that it will all be worth it. Because it will.

I used a coffee grinder to process the almonds and walnuts in batches until they resembled small bread crumbs. If you don't have a grinder, you can also smash the nuts with a mortar and pestel until you get them really small. It's hard work, I know, but remember: it'll be worth it. 

Now put the nuts in a bowl and add the salt, ginger, dates, vanilla and coconut nectar or maple syrup. You are going to put your hands in there and knead the whole thing. Be careful, it's sticky! My dough was a tad too dry, so I added 1/8 cup coconut oil to moisten it. If yours is moist enough, you can skip the coconut oil. Knead until the dough is homogeneous.

Then take a 1 quart glass pan (it's important that you choose a glass pan because the dough won't stick to it) and press the dough firmly into it. You don't have to bake the cake. The coconut nectar and oil will keep it all together.

For the frosting, blend together the avocado flesh, dates, cacao and coconut nectar. This will be a softer mixture, so you'll be able to use a hand blender. Make sure it's smooth, and then spread the frosting evenly on top of the cake. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving. 

To serve, use a sharp knife to cut triangular (or rectangular, depending on the shape of your pan) slices. And don't worry, if you pressed it well the cake is pretty sturdy so the slices won't break apart when you take them out.

Note: the original recipe uses a food processor. If you have one, use that recipe instead. 

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