Scorched Earth: Delicate Chocolate Cake with a Secret and Something New to Crumble For

My family just celebrated my father's 69th birthday. My dad is a wonderfully gregarious and generous man. An innovative thinker, soph...

My family just celebrated my father's 69th birthday. My dad is a wonderfully gregarious and generous man. An innovative thinker, sophisticated eater and cook. He has crafted a host of signature dishes that have burned into my memories. Much like myself, he is emotionally connected to food. He has a number of favorite meals, some of the most near and dear to him are the ones created by his mother who has long passed on. I can relate to this because many of my all time favorite meals were the ones made by my dad, who did most of the cooking in my family when I was a child. He is an excellent cook, and has excellent and particular taste in food and beer. For all of his birthdays and special occassions, I go out of my way to provide him either with a splendid meal or beverage and this year was no exception.

No longer living at home makes making dinner for my dad next to impossible so I usually stick to a dessert or two and my mom orders in. My dad loves Indian food. This year we got take out from my new favorite restaurant -- Banjara. If you haven't been there, I heartily recommend dropping everything and going there right now. It is nothing short of excellent.

I typically make a special dessert for everyone in my family for their birthdays. They all have different favorites. My dad has a particular taste for raspberry and rhubarb -- a favorite combination of his mother who used it in everything from pies to marmalades made famous through his fond memories. He also loves dark chocolate. He is not a fan of anything that is overly sweet so this year I made two desserts mild in sweetness. 

There are a lot of family celebrations in my family these days, so it seems we are always eating dessert. I have been possessed by the thought of making great tasting but healthy desserts. But not everyone shares my open mind. Often when you tell someone that the cake they are about to eat is mostly made of beans and bananas, they tend to get a little nervous and spend the entire time they eat it, trying to taste those strange flavors and textures. So this time I was careful to announce the mysterious ingredients post-consumption. They enjoyed the particularly healthy cake that I made quite a bit, but my sister would have preferred it cold to hot. The crisp I made, however, was devoured instantly. I make a good crumble. The crumble I made this time around was healthier than usual and worked out very well indeed if I do say so myself. It is gluten free and could easily be made vegan by replacing the very small amount of butter with vegan margarine or shortening. 

The cake, much like the black bean brownies I made last week, was very different when eaten cold the next day (today). I ate it for breakfast because as far as baked goods go, it is remarkably good for you. It is gluten free. It is flour free. It is high in protein. It is naturally sweetened and far less sweet than any cake I've every made before. I'm tempted to say that it is better for you than a bowl of oatmeal -- well, maybe without the chocolate chips.
I served the cake hot out of the oven  with a little Coconut Creme Anglaise. I ate it again, alone, cold from the fridge. I like it both ways. If you don't enjoy banana flavor, eat the cake cold from the fridge. If you do enjoy banana flavor, eat it hot out of the oven. 

My dad had a great meal and dessert in the end, and everyone liked the cake, so I hope you do too! I think it may be my new favorite dessert, if only because it doesn't make me flush the way most desserts do. I find the natural sugar in it quite tolerable and the flavor and texture delightful. It also won't leave you feeling too full or weighed down by greasiness.

Bon Apetit


Part I:
2 -15 oz cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 heaping teaspoon organic baking powder
2 organic frozen bananas
1/2 cup organic maple syrup
1 MINIATURE CAN organic coconut milk
2 teaspoons organic cinammon
1/2 cup Ghirardelli cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Part II:
2 egg yolks (vegan-ize this recipe by substituting 2 flax eggs)
2 egg whites beaten to firm peaks (vegan-ize this recipe by substituting egg replacer according to package instructions for replacing egg whites OR use 2 flax eggs beaten to soft peaks with an electric mixer)

Part III:
1 large handful organic dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit.
Blend all ingredients before eggs in a bowl with a hand blender until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Blend in egg yolks until very smooth.

Beat egg whites in a separate small bowl until they form firm peaks. Fold in beaten whites a little at a time into the chocolate batter. Pour into a 9inch non stick baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top of cake is just set and slightly springs back to the touch.

Serve hot with coconut creme anglaise for hot souffle-like mousse cake. OR serve chilled for denser silky chocolate cake. If you don't like banana flavor, serve chilled.

And don't hesitate to bake a better crumble on a wintery night...

Rhubarb raspberry crisp with millet-oat topping

Berry Filling Recipe
1 package frozen raspberries (I use Stalbush organic)
1 package frozen rhubarb (I use Stalbush organic)
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinammon
3 teaspoons organic butter
squeeze of 1/4 large lemon

Combine all filling ingredients in baking dish of choice. Break up the butter into little bits and distribute evenly throughout. Top with "crisp" and bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes.

Crisp recipe
1/3 cup ground wild brown millet
2/3 cup organic quick cooking oats
1/3 cup organic oat flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup organic dark brown sugar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vegan margarine
2 tsp organic ground cinammon
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Mix all "crisp" ingredients together to a crumbly consistency in a medium sized bowl using a fork. Top "filling" with "crisp" and bake until top is slightly brown and fruit bubbles red at the sides of the pan.

Serve hot with ice cream.

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