So, I haven’t posted in a while–which could lead to a whole post all about how disruptions to routine, no matter how welcome can really throw off our self care. My two brothers-in-law just arrived in town about two weeks ago and have been staying with us. This has led to an abundance of eating out, a lot more social time, and a lot less taking care of business. This same visit, however, led to the discovery of today’s recipe–because I made it for Anthony’s birthday.
When I embark on a new dessert recipe, the trickiest part is in the sweetener. I have long avoided (tried to avoid?) straight up cane sugar which always leads to lots of recipes including agave. You may have encountered some of the controversy around whether agave is perhaps as bad for us as High Fructose Corn Syrup. I have long been aware of the importance of the glycemic load of various sweeteners as an important component in health impact, including the very real differences in how they make me feel. So, if agave is so low glycemic, shouldn’t it be the dream?
Well, I think i’ve finally found the overlap between the problems with agave and the association with glycemic load. Gary Taubes, author of the unfortunately titled “Why We Get Fat”, wrote a great summary of the whole thing here in his long, but worthwhile Times article. What he doesn’t do, is talk much about alternative sweeteners and where they fit in the whole thing. So, if we accept his assertions about the dangers of high concentrations of fructose, then according to my research: honey and agave are out. Their high concentrations of fructose hit the liver faster than the liver can process them, leading to deleterious health effects.
Now for the good news: My often favorite sweetener, stevia, is still a great choice, but it have limitations in baking applications. Too much of it gets a little bitter, and it doesn’t function the same in recipes because it really has no bulk or moisture. Guess what’s low glycemic AND ow fructose? Coconut Palm sugar! This sugar comes in the form of both crystals and syrup, so it can be easily substituted. (caveat: i have not yet researched any of the eco and social impacts of the sudden surge in sales of all things coconut on the communities that produce them, so there’s more inquiry to be done there).
So, here is a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake that I adapted to include coconut sugar crystals. It contains some cane sugar because of the chocolate chips that I had on hand. I haven’t yet found a chocolate chip that is both dairy free and sweetened well, so until I start making my own (stay tuned), I use Dagoba 73% b/c they are so bittersweet that they amount to only a little sweetener.
I started with an unattributed recipe that I found on a chowhound discussion forum, and made a few changes. THe original was in weights, so mine is as well. The final product was gorgeous and delicious. Here’s the final recipe: This cake is very moist, bittersweet, and definitely lighter than the standard ganache-like flourless cake. I LOVED it!
300g Dagoba 73% chips
225g granular coconut palm sugar
2/3 cup boiling water
225g 1/2 coconut oil, 1/2 grapeseed oil
6 eggs, separated
a big pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Coconut flour for dusting
(optional: I did not do this b/c of my audience, but I think some cayenne, or mexican chocolate spices would be an amazing addition)
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. In a food processor, pulse the chocolate and sugar till fine. Add boiling water, butter, egg yolks, salt, spices if using, and vanilla.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff (I did this by hand just to be bad-ass and get a little exercise, an electric mixer is fine).
5. fold the amazingly glossy, thick, ganache-like contents of the food processor into the stiff whites.
6. Pour into 10-in springform pan. (if you don’t have one, cut a parchment circle and line the bottom of a cake pan with it to help keep it form sticking).
7. bake 45-55 minutes (longer for smaller pan). The top will crack. When you take it out it will collapse as it cools.
8. Right before serving, place some coconut flour in a sifter or a mesh tea strainer, and gently tap to release a pretty dusting of the flour over the top of the cake.
Serve with your favorite ice cream type product.