I should have known when I made the Panettone and Nutella Bread Pudding, that the healthy eating plan would go downhill. But I have long had my eye on a very special vegan chocolate cake recipe from Leon Baking and Puddings Book Three, which I loved reviewing and have been cooking from lots. As this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot, was to make a ‘health-conscious’ chocolate recipe, I really couldn’t resist this one any longer. The recipe is called A Very Good Chocolate Cake. And it was, very good indeed!
So, where does the health-conscious angle come into to this chocolate cake? Well, for a start it’s vegan, so it has no animal products in it at all. Secondly, no sugar, instead it calls for agave syrup, which is produced from the Mexican agave plant and is much less likely to give you a sugar rush. Thirdly, eating a chocolate cake (especially one sprinkled with lovely green pistachio nuts) is good for the soul, and therefore also, in my book counts as being health-conscious…
I have to say that when I looked at the required list of ingredients I was a little perplexed. There was no way, in my mind, that this unusual list of ingredients would come together to make a cake. I did my usual trick of embarking on a recipe before making sure I had everything to hand. I didn’t. So, in place of agave nectar I used a UK-produced Canadian Pure Maple syrup by Clarks that I had been sent to try. It worked perfectly. I used half-fat coconut milk, which was all I had, in place of full fat (healthier still) and I used vegetable oil and a squeeze of clementine juice in place of sunflower oil and lemon juice. Oh, and I flavoured the cake with orange essence instead of vanilla. You can see how I didn’t think it would work, particularly with all the messing around I did with the recipe, but it did!
No one would ever know that this is a vegan chocolate cake. It is moist, and it stays moist for a good few days in a tin as it’s made with oil. It smells divine and has a truffle cake texture with a perfect chocolate hit. It would be perfect for Valentine’s Day too. Best of all, it is really easy to make. Simply mix the dry ingredients with the wet, pour into a tin and bake. The recipe in the book is decorated with pretty summer flowers, but as it is winter, a sprinkle of vibrant green pistachio nuts seemed to do the trick.
Here’s my amended version, the original, called A Very Good Chocolate Cake, is by the very talented Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby.
- 150 ml hot water
- 80 g cocoa powder
- 200 ml Maple Syrup
- 200 ml half-fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 80 ml vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 180 g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- pinch Salt
- 25 g coconut oil
- 100 g dark chocolate
- 25 ml maple syrup
- 25 g Shelled Pistachio nuts
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking or parchment paper.
- Mix the hot water and cocoa powder together until smooth. Add the syrup, coconut milk, lemon, oil and vanilla and mix.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix all the ingredients together very well, until you have a smooth, runny batter.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 35 minutes. A skewer or cake tester should come out clean.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin and in the meantime, make the chocolate icing.
- Put the coconut oil, dark chocolate and syrup into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt together and stir.
- Turn the cake out of the cake tin and make sure it is completely cool before placing on a serving plate and pouring over the melted chocolate icing.
- Decorate with crushed pistachio nuts, or try hazelnuts or ground walnuts or fresh raspberries.
Leon Baking and Puddings Book Three is full of little tricks to make recipes healthier, whether it is experimenting with different flours, such as spelt or gluten-free flour or substituting pure cane sugar with honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or stevia. The recipes are well tested and have a broad appeal – it’s well worth putting on your list!
As promised, I’m sending this over to the We Should Cocoa challenge.
For more blog events to get involved in, check out The Food Blog Diary, which lists many different blog events and blog hops to try!