A few years ago I worked as a receptionist at a fine stringed instruments dealer. It was a very interesting cultural experience, because we sold extremely expensive violins, violas and cellos to people with a good deal of money. It was, and has been so far, my only true exposure to this slice of the music industry. It was also a very interesting and enjoyable foray into fine chocolates, desserts and other culinary delights. This was prior to my swearing off of cheese, milk and other dairy items, so I’ll confess that I had quite a few non-vegan experiences (and one non-vegetarian one, which I didn’t realize until later – um yeah, imitation crab is still real fish, FYI).
Whenever it was someone’s birthday, or a staff person was leaving for greener pastures, or because we all needed a good morale booster someone would pop over to Soutine, a lovely little bakery on the Upper West Side, and grab, more often than not, a flourless chocolate cake. It was spectacular. (If you are not a vegan or a part-time one at least, and if you are ever in NYC, you must have a dessert from Soutine. Otherwise, you definitely must have a dessert from Babycakes, which has many wonderful vegan and gluten-free desserts. It’s located in the Chinatown/Little Italy region of Manhattan.)
So when I saw what this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was, I thought back to the days of endless classical music and to those moments filled with dessert, wine and workplace camaraderie. Then after wondering how on earth I was supposed to veganize something that relies mostly on eggs, I encountered a technically vegan flourless chocolate cake from a fellow Daring Baker and vegan, Hannah of BitterSweet. I had to try her recipe, Daring Bakers challenge or no solely because of the fact that the base of the recipe is black-eyed peas. Using legumes in place of flour seemed most unusual, but intriguing to me, and I ventured ahead.
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake
This recipe comes from Hannah of BitterSweet
- 2 cups black-eyed peas, cooked
- 1 12-ounce package extra-firm silken tofu
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (note that I left this out)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
If you are cooking the black-eyed peas yourself, you can soak the peas overnight, then give them a good rinse before cooking them for a couple of hours (only cook in plain water – do not add salt!). At that point, check them to make sure that they are fully cooked.
Once they are done, give them a good rinse.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan or a 9-inch springform pan.
Toss both the black-eyed peas and the tofu into your food processor or blender, and let it run until the mixture is completely smooth.
Give it a good long time to work, since it would be rather unpleasant to find any whole beans in your cake.
Add in the sugar and coffee powder, and pulse to combine.
Separately, melt the chocolate and stir well until smooth before adding into the blender or food processor.
Once you’ve added the chocolate to the blender or food processor, let it run for a minute until fully incorporated. Unfortunately I was finding it difficult to get it well blended in a blender, so I had to switch to our food processor.
Scrape down the sides to make sure you aren’t missing anything, and give it another minute to process. Finally, add the cocoa, coffee powder, baking powder, soda, and salt, and pulse to combine.
Pour and then spread the mixture into your prepared pan, leveling off the top with your spatula as best you can.
Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Let it cool completely in the pan before serving.
I was surprised, but you can’t taste the peas. You’d think you would be able to, but if you think about it, you can’t really taste flour in regular cakes or desserts. You’re tasting a whole host of ingredients that harmonize together to offer up a sweet sensation. I will say, though, that this tasted best on the first day, and after that it did become a little dry. It also needed some sort of vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet, but I didn’t have any on hand (it’s so expensive these days!). Still, we can’t help but help ourselves when we have chocolate dessert sitting around, waiting to be eaten. This is why this cake is now just a memory. ;)
I’m now very inspired to find other dessert recipes that utilize beans as a base. We’ve noticed lately that flour has gone up in price significantly, yet dry beans still remain pretty cheap. Therefore it seems that it is probably less expensive, and potentially more healthy to use beans in place of flour. (I can’t imagine it being a 1:1 ratio, however.) Anyone know of any good recipes?