Cacao Beetroot Cake

As far as I’m concerned, the more veggies you can get in, the better. And this cake, well, unless you’re extremely picky, you wouldn’t know there’s a vegetable in it. I haven’t made it for ages and, true to form, I’ve altered the original recipe yet again.

I had leftover rice and almond milk pulp to use up, and for once I decided to go with spelt flour instead of the usual (heavier, gluten free) buckwheat. This recipe is almost fool-proof so if you wanted to use a plain gluten-free flour go for it; I can pretty much guarantee it will still turn out.

The biggest difference for me this time however was using raw beetroot. The recipes usually call for ‘cooked mashed beetroot’ but you see, apart from now owning a Thermomix that will virtually pulverise the tough root veggie, I concluded that it would cook during its 40-50 minute sojourn in the 180ºC oven environment. It seems to have worked.Food Fervour

So for this amazingly moist healthy ‘choccy’ cake, I used: 1 medium-large beetroot, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, ¾ cup coconut sugar, ¾ cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1¼ cups spelt flour (actually I used ½ cup almond & rice milk pulp + ¾ cup spelt, and it worked) 1 teaspoon baking powder (bicarb soda), ½ cup (or a fraction more!) cacao powder, ½ teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg.

beetrootFirst you’ll need to grate your beetroot (I hope you’re not wearing white?!) unless you have a Thermomix or other very high powered blender or food processing appliance (because I buy organic beets I didn’t peel it). Thermie users, I chose speed 5-6 for about 15 seconds, stopped to scrape down the bowl & repeated once more.

For the manual cooks, you’ll need another bowl to thoroughly blend the moist ingredients (vanilla, sugar, oil and eggs) then add the beetroot to the mix (or vice versa). Thermomixers can add the ingredients directly to the bowl with the beetroot in it and blend for 20 secs at speed 5-6. Scrape down afterwards.

Now, I know most chefs & cooks prefer the dry goods to be pre-mixed but I usually never do this because I’m lazy: I hate creating more washing up (with extra bowls). I prefer to substitute this action with prolonged ‘elbow-grease’… in other words, add all the ingredients individually then mix the crap out of that cake batter until it can’t possibly be anything but well-blended. With a wooden spoon this equates to a fair bit of energy consumption and perhaps some lactic acid build-up in the muscles of your stirring arm. With electric beaters (does anyone even own them anymore?) food processors or Thermomixes it’s a piece of cake (excuse the pun). Chuck in all the remaining ingredients (flour, bicarb, cacao powder, salt & nutmeg) then mix, mix, mix! (Thermies, a couple of 20 second hits around speed 5-6, with some scrape downs, should do fine).

Don’t panic if your batter seems too liquescent (runny)… that’s exactly how mine was. Believe me, it solidifies as it bakes but the result is ridiculously moist! Pour into a greased, lined loaf tin and bake in a moderate oven (180ºC) as previously mentioned, for 40-50 minutes. A knife or skewer inserted should come out cleanly when it’s done. Let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before turning it out of the tin… because its so moist you’ll risk it falling apart while hot.Food Fervour

Now this could be enjoyed on its own because it is so moist but I pimped mine up with some of my homemade chocolate ganache (find that recipe here) and shredded coconut.

Yarrrrrm!

 

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3 Ingredient ‘Chocolate Ganache’

Ok so how I came across this one was …kind of like the movie ‘Sliding Doors’. And I realise that won’t mean anything to those who haven’t seen it. But basically, it was by accident, and yet also a ridiculously close ‘shave’. Let me explain:

When I began making ‘raw cookies’ about a decade ago (before they became the energy/protein balls or raw truffles we all know today) I soaked dates. Yep, just that. I soaked dates, as the basis for these healthy raw food treats. You would blend them up (but because I never had a blender, I just chopped them over and over again until they resembled something a food processor or blender might spit out) then mix milled or chopped nuts, seeds and whatever else into them before the messy part of the job: the hand-rolling and coating in   desiccated coconut or again, nut meal.Food Fervour

It was when I came across a recipe that included cocoa (yes, before cacao powder went ‘mainstream’) that I realised soaked dates mixed with cocoa could make a kind of (weird) chocolate substitute. But this is where the train doors slid shut…. and I forgot about it.

…Until last year sometime, when, after making another slightly dry (I admit!) gluten free cake that I knew would benefit from some kind of moist topping (but what to make without heaps of processed sugar?) the train doors automatically opened and I soaked some dates. It worked perfectly – for ME: I realise chefs and food critics would turn up their noses, but I’m not about perfection (at the cost of health).. I’m about clean, unprocessed Imitation & Adaptation!

This is extremely easy but you’ll need to allow more time: the longer the dates soak, the better. In fact, if the dates are well soaked and chopped, you don’t even need a blender for this recipe; some old fashioned elbow grease (mixing by hand) will work. Oh and make sure there are no seeds in them!

One cup of dates (I use Iranian, I imagine Medjool would work even better, and may not need to soak for long – if at all. Please let me know how this goes if you try this!) will easily thickly coat a loaf-sized cake, with some to spare.

Food FervourDrain the water from the dates (I actually keep this to use as a liquid sweetener in other creations: waste not, want not!) and throw them in a powerful blender with 2 heaped tablespoons of cacao powder (add more for a stronger dark chocolate flavour) and 2 tablespoons liquefied coconut oil. You will need to blend & scrape numerous times (Thermomixers, I performed about 4 rounds of 15 seconds, increasing from speed 5 to 9) but the result is worth it: a rich, thick, chocolatey ‘ganache’ that you can top cakes with, fill biccies with, or even eat on toast like Nutella (if you’re desperate enough)! If you really want to you could press the ganache through a strainer to ensure a smoother product, but for my money, what’s the point in removing all that extra natural fibre?

Food Fervour

‘Ganache’ used as a biscuit filling

There’s heaps of room to experiment too: powdered spices or essences could alter the result… Vanilla or peppermint essence? Cinnamon? Even a touch of chilli powder? I think I might try to explore a salted caramel version so… stay tuned for that!

Vegan Anzac Cheesecake

How the heck did I come up with this one?

Easy, really. While searching for a traditional Anzac biscuit recipe earlier in the week, I came across a recipe for an Anzac Cheesecake… a traditional, cheesy cheesecake. Since I love the raw cheesecake phenomenon, I instantly mulled over what ingredients I would use, to get the flavour of an Anzac biccie.

And what better tribute on this, the 100th Anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli? (For anyone outside of Australia or New Zealand who may not know what this means to us, take a look at this postFood Fervour

So where to start? Well, the traditional biscuits are primarily comprised of oats, flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup (‘treacle’), butter and the result is a wonderful ‘caramel’ flavour. I could envisage the oats & desiccated coconut in the cheesecake base (sorry, this isn’t gluten free people: but you could easily substitute almonds or buckwheat instead) but what about the cheesy filling?

Well, raw foodies know that nuts can make great dairy substitutes, and almost every raw cheesecake recipe you find will use cashews for the filling. I like to buck trends sometimes. And this HAD to be an Aussie recipe. There was no better option than our native nut, the macadamia. Coconut cream and/or oil would work because coconut figures in the original biscuit recipe. The ideas flowed from there…

There are three stages to the cheesecake’s creation, and since one does involve cooking, I can no longer claim this as ‘raw’. Firstly, I made a salted caramel sauce (recipe sourced from Quirky Cooking – see here) then created the base, and finally the macadamia/coconut cream/salted caramel filling. And I was blown away by the result!food fervour

Please note: using a standard springform cake tin, I found that my cheesecake was rather flat which indicates I my quantities were too few. Having said this, I’ve decided to supply my original amounts anyway but I highly recommend you used a smaller dish… or double all the ingredients! (If you do that, can you let me know how it works out please?)

For the caramel sauce I used 50gm coconut sugar, 50gm coconut cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract & a good pinch of Himalayan Salt.

I put all of these in the Thermomix for 3mins @ 100º, speed 2. For those without this piece of equipment, I apologise but I can only guess that you would add all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir continuously (probably for more than 3 minutes I imagine) until the mixture thickens. (Be careful you don’t let it go too long, it will burn quickly. But then, burnt caramel is another flavour in itself, and maybe it could work?!) Empty into a jug or cup and set aside.

For the cheesecake base I blended 1 cup of dates, ½ cup oats and ½ cup of desiccated coconut until fully granulated (Thermies up to 15 seconds, speed 9-10). Grease your dish with coconut oil, tip the base mixture in and using a spatula (or clean hands?) press firmly and evenly across the base. Place it in the refrigerator.

For the filling I played around a fair bit! But in the end I used: ¼ cup of the prepared salted caramel sauce (that’ll be almost the whole lot), 1 heaped cup of (approx. 250gm) macadamia nuts, ½ cup coconut cream, ¼ cup coconut oil.

Firstly, I milled the macadamias (Thermies 10sec, speed 9-10) then added the sauce, blending for about 10secs, from speed 5 increasing to 9) Next add the coconut cream and Thermomix or not, you’ll need to blend a few times, stopping to scrape down the sides. My thought was, the more you blend, the better the aeration of the coconut cream, as well as further milling the macadamia particles. Finally add the (liquified) coconut oil, and I let this one go at speed 9 for almost 40 seconds.

Pour the thick filling into your prepared base dish, then simply freeze. I left mine overnight so I would highly recommend you leave it for at least one hour. It may stick fast to the base of the dish so gently warm the base (melting the coconut oil you greased the dish with) and it should come out with a little more ease.

food fervourI garnished the finished product with a crumbled Anzac biscuit (I also make vegan versions of those) but leftover salted caramel sauce drizzled over the top is divine!

 

 

Quick Chicken Mushroom Stew

I LOVE a quick meal. Usually I’ll spend more time on Google looking for a recipe (to adapt!) than I’ll end up spending on the actual cooking process.

Last night I had two boneless chicken thighs to thawed and knowing my button mushies were only days away from turning funky, I searched “chicken mushroom recipes” and found a great, easy recipe on BBC Good Food (here’s the link to the original recipe).Food Fervour

Because I didn’t have all the required ingredients, and because I prefer a higher vegetable content in my meals anyway, I made some changes. (What’s new?!) I used the following:

2 (large) boneless diced chicken thighs, about 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour, 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, about 1 heaped tablespoon diced bacon, 1-1½ cups roughly chopped button mushrooms, 250mls chicken stock, approximately 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1 large chopped shallot, 1-1½ cups broccoli florets, 1 large thickly chopped zucchini.

While half of the coconut oil heats up in the frypan (over medium heat) coat the chicken in the cornflour. (You can do this one of two ways: the sustainable but messy method is to put them together in a bowl and use your hands to coat the chicken, or you could pop the meat & flour in a plastic bag, seal it, then jiggle the contents around until the job is done. I only chose the latter this time around because I had a plastic (food) bag I was about to dispose of.) Chuck the contents in the frypan and cook until the chicken is sealed and browned. Remove from the pan.

Add the rest of the coconut oil, the bacon and the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms soften. Pour in the stock and vinegar, scraping any cornflour from the frypan base and mix it through the liquid (the meagre amount of cornflour used in this recipe means the stew won’t be ‘thick’ in texture). Bring the chicken back to the mix and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shallot, broccoli & zucchini and cook until the broccoli has turned a brilliant green (brighter than it was when raw) – no more than 5 minutes or you risk overcooking the greens. And that’s just no good!

Serve immediately, seasoning if you wish. This will feed two not-so-hungry people but I imagine it would satisfy the ravenous if served over rice. Because I felt like being ‘starchy-carb-free’ at the time, I managed to inhale the entire dish …by going back for seconds 😉 Umah!