I had such a wonderful day yesterday, as you know it started with Yoga and pancakes made by the hubby and then I had lunch with my Mum and Brother. I had sautéed giant prawns in garlic and chilli, with a side of cherry tomato, basil, & red onion salad and a cheeky glass of Rose – perfection! My brother had to rush back to work and my mum had to get the early train home for the “off peak” travel, so I had a couple of hours to kill before the party in the evening. So I hopped on a Boris bike and whipped it down Brick Lane (I’ll admit I went against the flow of traffic – naughty! – but much quicker to get home & I promise I was careful!) I was on a mission to start the “dream cake” process. Sometimes I get really excited about the prospect of a new recipe – it might take a couple of weeks or a few days to formulate in my head properly but this is good because if I rush into it too quickly without thinking about it – it can end up being a disaster! So what were the flavours I had been contemplating the last few weeks? Well I’m really into juicing and usually start the days with a Beetroot, Carrot, Apple & Ginger juice – great way to get the “Vit Hit” in early. Beetroot has such a wonderful colour and apparently was the juice of choice for the Olympic athletes last summer at the Olympic park! Why? Not only does it have a unique natural sweetness, it’s magical in the health department! Here are a few facts you may like to know:
* It reduces blood pressure & the risk of heart attacks & strokes.
* It is a powerful antioxidant.
* Full of Folic Acid: essential for normal tissue growth.
* Reduces the risk of Osteoporosis – helps the body utilize calcium more efficiently.
* Lowers Cholesterol.
* Stabilizes blood sugar.
* Helps treat anemia & fatigue.
I mean really – start getting this into your diet ASAP! If you don’t like the taste – experiment with it – don’t go for the shop bought stuff dipped in vinegar – go natural – juice it with apples, roast it with onions, fry it into crispy chips – get creative!
Now the birthday card from my brother & his wife was apt – pretty much says it all in terms of the next flavour I wanted for my dream cake!
Good quality dark chocolate is the ultimate mood enhancer, full of antioxidants & these key Vits: Potassium,Copper, Magnesium and Iron. I always check to see how pure the chocolate is – the higher the Cacao percentage the better and I don’t want any extras like soy lethicin, preservatives, gluten or milk. A little raw sugar is OK. I really like Willi’s Cacao – the raw block has no sugar in it and can be used in savoury dishes too – but the best thing is you can control how much sugar you put in. The chocolate is rich, fruity and in my opinion just “magnifique!”
Final flavour of choice: Pecans – gotta love em’: full of antioxidants & protein with their unique maple sweetness – “Yum” in a word!
I hope you get the idea by now – I’m all about packing my recipes with goodness but I also want the “OMG” factor when that first bite hits my mouth! 🙂
And so without further ado this is what I did:
Chocolate Beetroot & Pecan Cake
Oven Pre-heated to 150C
4 Raw Beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tbsp Coconut Oil you can buy this from a health food shop or online – (Organic cold pressed, raw Virgin oil is the best if you can get it)
1 tbsp Goat Butter you can buy this from most supermarkets now
Juice of 2 Lemons
200g Dried pitted dates (make sure they are the juicy kind if you know what I mean)
Splash of Water
1 inch of a Vanilla Pod
3 Eggs beaten (organic free range if poss)
80g Pecan Nuts roughly chopped and a few whole halves to decorate
200g of Ground Almonds
3 tbsp Coconut Flour: You can buy from health food shops or online
90g This is exactly half of a Willi’s raw Cacao block roughly chopped (Waitrose sells it or you can get it online here: http://www.willieschocolateshop.com/cooking-chocolate-pure-cacao.html
1tsp Vitamin C powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
150g Willi’s Cacoa Chefs drops: http://www.willieschocolateshop.com/chefs-drops.html
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tbsp Goat Butter
1 inch of a Vanilla pod scraped seeds only
1) In a large pan I put the chopped Beetroot, Lemon Juice, Coconut Oil and Goat Butter and over a medium heat cooked it down for about 30-35 minutes with the lid on until tender but still holding their shape. I let them cool before blitzing in the food processor.
2) For my sweetener I like to use Dates, because they are more natural than sugar and high in fibre! In a smaller pan I put the dates, a splash of water (not enough to cover them completely but almost) and I snipped an inch of a vanilla pod into the pan skin and all. Over a low heat I cooked this down (lid off) for about 10 minutes until I could mash the dates with a fork like the pic on the right:
3) Having pureed the cooled Beetroot I put it into a separate bowl to one side, I didn’t worry about washing the bowl from the food processor here, I just added the date mixture and gave that a blitz too until completely smooth – and the inch of vanilla pod was broken down too. Then I added back the Beetroot mixture. I urge you to taste this mixture – at this stage, what you have in the food processor would make awesome baby food – so natural, nutritious & delicous and a great way to introduce your baby to healthy food!
4) Next I melted the roughly chopped raw Cacao over a Bain Marie – or in a bowl placed over a saucepan of water like this:
Stops the choc from burning…
5) Once melted I added this to the Beetroot/date mixture along with a knob of Goat butter and whizzed again to make it smooth – again have a little taste test here – pure pleasure!
6) In a large mixing bowl I combined the Ground Almonds with the Beetroot mixture and then I added the Coconut Flour on top of that. As I stirred here, it did get pretty thick but I wasn’t worried as I still had the eggs and raising agents to add.
7) Beaten eggs added and folded in:
8) At this point I should have added the Pecans but I forgot & ended up adding them once I had put the cake mixture in the tin! More on that later! Next I added the Vitamin C and the Bicarbonate of Soda through a sieve to avoid lumps and folded it in.
9) I poured the cake mixture into a greased loose bottomed 8 1/2 inch tin (in hindsight I should have lined the base with grease-proof paper but I was excited!) It was here that I remembered my Pecans! I added them and loosely stirred them into the mixture but because I didn’t want to over work the mixture at this stage most of them stayed close to the top of the mixture – perhaps this could be written off as one of my “happy accidents?” But what a lovely colour!
10) And off to the oven it went 150C for about 45 mins – check it – skewer in – comes out clean and the mixture will be firm but springy to the touch. Put it back in for few mins if need be. I allowed it to cool in the tin. At this point I had to start getting ready for the party so I had to leave it for the night.
11) Next day and out the tin, completely cooled, it looked like this above – so my “happy accident” actually made for a lovely rustic look and would be delicious just as it is if you wanted something less fancy. However I was after something more indulgent for my dream cake and icing was my next stop. This was when I realised that if I had lined the base of the tin it would have made it easier to remove it from the base without breaking the cake up – plus the nuts on the top now would make the icing look really lumpy. So I decided I would have to flip the cake and get it off the base – CAREFULLY! Not too much damage done and cake still in one piece – Phew!
But look at the fab colour!
And the texture of the sponge was incredible! (my husband should be a hand model!)
12) So to Icing: Into a Bain Marie as before I put the chef’s cooking drops, a tablespoon each of Coconut oil & Goat butter, and I scraped the inside of a vanilla pod (just one inch) and added that too – all to be melted together.
13) I poured the mixture onto the cake and used a flat scraper to smooth it over:
13) This was messy – it ended up on my coffee cup – Mocha anyone? 🙂
14) I cleaned the excess chocolate off the plate – and added my Pecan nut decoration – and then it was into the fridge to set the icing.
Well? You might ask… was it “OMG” from the first bite? Pretty much! But let me tell you my friends this cake is not for the faint hearted it is Uber rich, luxurious and definitely perfect for that special occasion! It went very well with a few raspberries scattered on the plate too…