Free From Foodie: Gluten Free Triple Feel Good Chocolate Truffle Cake!
It’s Chocolate Week…what a great excuse to indulge and support cocoa growing communities around the world! Ok, on further investigation it seems Chocolate Week has somewhat less altruistic intent but if it’s fun, involves deliciousness and can even be good for you what’s not to like?
If you’re a fan of all things chocolate it’s worth a quick look at the Chocolate Week website www.chocolateweek.co.uk ….not to be confused of course with World Chocolate Day, International Chocolate Day, World Cocoa and Chocolate day…it seems we have found plenty of excuses to celebrate everyone’s favourite treat! A few things I learned from my brief ‘Chocolate Week’ browse….
• Ancient civilisations of Central America, the first to use wild cacao as a drink, believed the ‘bitter water’ stimulated brain power and beat fatigue
• Cocoa beans were once used as currency…. so money really did grow on trees!
• Spanish explorer Cortez was introduced to cocoa by Aztec Emperor Montezuma and brought it back to Spain in 1527 where it remained a secret for nearly a century
• Chocolate came to England in the 1650s and was revered for its health properties but was taxed so highly it was only available to the rich
• The company that later became JS Fry invented a water powered engine to mill cocoa beans. Fry’s grandson went on to combine cocoa butter and cocoa paste to make the first chocolate bar in 1847
• John Cadbury opened his first chocolate shop in Birmingham in 1824
• In 1909 British chocolate companies boycotted cocoa produced on slave plantations in Portuguese West Africa
• In the UK we eat on average nearly 200g of chocolate per week and spend £3.5 billion on chocolate confectionary each year
So, with all that interesting history wrapped up in each bar it seems a shame not to join the Chocolate Week fun and try out a delicious gluten free chocolate cake recipe. Funnily enough I found plenty of volunteers to taste test this one!
In keeping with my ‘nutritious makeover ’approach this rich, moist cake includes all good stuff….. dark chocolate, cocoa and beetroot all high in antioxidants; prunes and dates for their excellent fibre, natural sweetness, vitamins and minerals; almonds, hazelnuts and eggs for protein and healthy fats and coconut oil, a nourishing tropical oil that doesn’t contain cholesterol (fabulous on the skin too!).
Triple feel good chocolate truffle cake….delicious, nutritious and full of ethical ingredients
An intensely dark, bittersweet cake best served cold from the fridge… when chilled for several hours it takes on a dense, fudgey texture, a small square is enough to feel completely indulged! I like it best with the contrast of sweet berries or a tangy raspberry puree and crème fraiche.
Ingredients (makes around 12 small portions)
- 100g Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate (or 85% for even more dark intensity)
- 40g Green & Blacks or Suma cocoa powder
- 50g Biona virgin coconut oil
- 100g Meridian crunchy hazelnut butter (if you haven’t tried this yet it’s amazing)
- 100g Suma organic ground almonds
- 150g Suma or Crazy Jack organic pitted prunes
- 100g Traidcraft organic, fair trade dates
- 100g cooked beetroot (roast for around an hour or buy precooked for ease… but not pickled!)
- 2 large free range eggs
- 2 tsp good quality vanilla essence
- 50 ml liquid – water is fine but you could also use cherry or pomegranate juice (or include some brandy)
Heat oven to 180°c and line a small cake or brownie tin, I use a 15cm square one
1. Put the dates and half the prunes into a small saucepan with your choice of liquid, warm over a very gentle heat for 5 minutes to soften the fruits. Set aside while you work on the chocolate……
2. Break the chocolate into small pieces in a large glass bowl and add the coconut oil. Melt over a saucepan of gently boiling water ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the water. Take the bowl off the heat to cool slightly
3. Put the date and prune mixture (and any remaining liquid) into a blender or food processor with the beetroot and blitz until well combined.
4. Stir the prune/date/beetroot mixture into the chocolate bowl along with the cocoa powder and hazelnut butter
5. Beat eggs and vanilla essence together in a bowl and mix this into the chocolate mixture too. Fold in the ground almonds and roughly chopped remaining prunes until thoroughly combined
6. Spoon the thick mixture into the lined tin and smooth the surface
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, it’s a very dense cake and won’t rise very much
8. Cool before chilling in the fridge for a few hours or overnight
9. For a quick raspberry fruit puree – put 50g unsulphured dried apricots in a bowl with juice of 1 large orange, leave for 3+ hours and then puree in a blender with 50g fresh raspberries. Press through a sieve if you like but I like it with ‘bits’
Variations: For an even more indulgent treat soak the prunes in brandy for several hours prior to using, armagnac is particularly good! If you prefer a little more sweetness try adding dried cherries, cranberries or raisins. Add chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or brazil nuts for added crunch
Nicky Robinson combines her work in fair trade with other life-long passions for natural good food and positive healthy living. Her own experience with Coeliac Disease has led her to study for an MSc in Nutritional Therapy and develop a special interest in nutritious and delicious gluten free cooking.