Monday, 6 June 2016

Walnut chocolate fudge cake with raspberries

It was a warm summer in 2010 and we had just moved to Antwerp, where we lived for two years. Our son's birthday was coming up and he asked me to make this walnut chocolate fudge cake with raspberries that needs no baking. He had seen it in Ani's Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo and his mind was set. A fudge cake and Playmo and our five-year old was happy. The original recipe, called raspberry ganache fudge cake, had two layers with frosting and raspberries between them. I made it, we loved it, but after only one slice we were full. For us the two layers were simply too much. I reduced the cake's size and my version is one layer with frosting and berries on top. The beauty of making the cake is its simplicity: There is no soaking of nuts or dates needed; everything is mixed in a food processor. The cake is shaped and ready to serve. Excellent on summer days when you're craving a chocolate cake but it's too warm to turn on the oven.

One of the reasons why I love this cake so much is that it has two of my favourite foods: walnuts and raspberries. Walnuts are an excellent source of (plant-based) omega-3 fatty acids. They are considered good for the heart and they have anti-inflammatory benefits. I read in my Larousse Culinary Encyclopedia that the ancient Greeks and Romans believed walnuts cured headaches because of the shape of the kernel, which looks like the two halves of a brain (p. 1143). In the same food bible I read about 'the nymph Ida prick[ing] her finger while picking berries for the young Jupiter and thus raspberries, which had been white until then, turned red' (p. 861). Let's leave the mythology and make the cake.

This walnut chocolate fudge cake recipe is adapted from the aforementioned book by Ani Phyo, which is filled with delicious raw treats. I have reduced the cake's size, as we prefer one layer, with the frosting and raspberries on top. Phyo's recipe calls for dry walnuts (first soaked, then dried in the sun or in a dehydrator) but I simply use walnuts without soaking them. Some people are sensitive to caffeine and in such cases you can substitute the cocoa powder in the fudge cake for carob powder. The original recipe calls for pitted Medjool dates, which are soft and don't need soaking. You can of course use pitted dried dates instead and soak them first. The original frosting recipe has agave syrup but I use pure maple syrup instead. The cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


fudge cake
220 g walnuts (2 cups)
50 g cocoa powder (¼ cup + 2 heaped Tbs)
scant ¼ teaspoon fine sea/Himalayan salt
175 g pitted Medjool dates (scant 1 cup)

60 g pitted Medjool dates (about ¼ cup)
40 ml pure maple syrup (scant 3 Tbs)
70 g ripe avocado flesh (⅓ cup)
30 g cocoa powder (¼ cup)

topping: 70-100 g raspberries (about ½ cup)

To make the fudge cake, combine the walnuts, cocoa powder and salt in a food processor and pulse until coarsely mixed. Avoid over-processing. Add the dates and pulse until mixed well. Use your fingertips to feel the texture of the batch and add one or two Medjool dates if it feels dry. Using your hands, shape into a cake of desired size on a plate (I like mine 18-19 cm (about 7 inches)). Set aside.

To make the frosting, combine the dates and maple syrup in the food processor and process until as smooth as possible. Add the avocado and process until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and process until smooth.

To serve, spread the frosting over the cake and top with fresh raspberries.

Uppskrift á íslensku.

If using pitted dried dates, instead of Medjool dates, chop them first and soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Do not discard the soaking water, as you may need some of it to get the right texture, both for the cake and the frosting (depends on how good your food processor is). Instead of walnuts only for the fudge cake you can substitute one cup for a blend of pecans, almonds and cashew nuts.

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