Friday, February 10, 2012

Individual Chocolate Cakes for Two: A Gluten-Free, Vegan Valentine's Day Treat

Let's talk Valentine's Day. I think there are generally two camps, right? The, "Valentine's Day was made up by Hallmark to sell cards," grumble, grumble, grumble camp. And the, "I love hearts and kisses and baking chocolate treats for my sweet," camp. The two are, of course, rather fluid, as one may desert one group for the other depending on relationship status. And then there are the staunch devotees, who will stick with one side no matter what his or her Facebook status may say. 

Personally, I'm a wishy washy kind o' gal when it comes to this holiday. I like wearing red and pink, and I'll take any excuse to dress up (even if I'm only going to class). You already know I love baking, so I don't really need an excuse to make chocolate cake, but I'll take one anyway. But whether I'm single or coupled up, have a fancy date or a date with Sex and the City (or, dare I say, am sitting in the library doing homework), I approach Valentine's Day with just about the same amount of excitement. Which is to say, somewhat more than on President's Day but much less than Halloween, and nowhere near Christmas. It is simply a day in between the winter holidays and spring, but a day when I get to daydream and doodle hearts on my paper. 

Oh yes. And bake. 

Individual Chocolate Cakes for Two (Print-Friendly Option)
Is there anything better than a rich, dense chocolate cake? How about one that is high in fiber and antioxidants? Apricots are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, and iron, and both apricots and chocolate have antioxidant superpowers. You can also use your favorite granulated sugar in this recipe, so go ahead and swap the cane sugar for coconut palm sugar if you like. 

3/4 cup dried apricots* (126 grams)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons full fat canned coconut milk, room temperature (90 grams)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (94 grams)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar - or any granulated sugar (72 grams)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sorghum flour (63 grams)
1/4 cup tapioca starch (30 grams)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (20 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

*You can use dried prunes, raisins or dates, but keep in mind the flavor will vary depending on which fruit you choose. 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 large muffin tins.
2. Place the apricots, coconut milk, applesauce, sugar and vanilla in a food processor. Process until apricots are pureed. 
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, tapioca starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour into the food processor and process until completely mixed. 
4. Scoop into muffin tins. The batter will be enough to fill both tins. Wet your fingers and smooth the tops of the muffins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle just comes out clean. 
5. Let cool for a few minutes before turning onto a cooling rack. Eat plain or top with your favorite frosting. 

Makes 2 large muffins. 

Because so many people are sensitive to chocolate, my original Valentine's Day goal was to come up with a recipe that could easily be made as a chocolate cake or a vanilla cake. Unfortunately, I didn't succeed with this one. While absolutely decadent, this chocolate cake is dense, halfway between a cake and a muffin really. For chocolate, that worked just fine. But when I made the vanilla version, it was very much a muffin, not a cake. And to be perfectly honest, it just wasn't up to my standards. It was a little too dense, and way too sweet. That being said, I thought I would let you know what I did so you can play around with it yourself if you so desire. And it's pretty simple:

To make a vanilla version of this cake, I replaced the 1/4 cup of cocoa powder with an extra 1/4 cup (30 grams) of tapioca starch. I left out the baking soda, and kept everything else the same. But like I said, I wasn't completely satisfied with the results (which didn't stop me from eating them all). So if you can't have chocolate and want to try this recipe, consider this a starting off point, and be ready to do some experimenting. Laurel, I hear your kitchen calling you...

For readers in the Seattle area thinking about going gluten-free or new to the gluten-free lifestyle, here's a great (free!) talk being given Monday morning by some of my classmates:

Going Gluten-Free
Monday, February 13
10 - 11 a.m.
Bastyr Center for Natural Health
3670 Stone Way N., Seattle, WA 98103
Free and open to the public 

Join Bastyr University nutrition students, along with clinical supervisor Kelly Morrow, MS, RD, CD, for an engaging discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of consuming gluten. They'll explain the difference between a gluten allergy and a gluten intolerance; explore many different grains, both with and without gluten; and offer recipes and resources to help you and your family live a happy, healthy lifestyle without (or with less) gluten. 


Zoe said...

I LOVE the idea of dried apricots in these little chocolate cakes! I don't think I've ever tried it, but I get the notion apricots and chocolate go really well together. Your photography is getting more and more beautiful, Iris.

I'm sort of neutral about Valentine's Day, I suppose I fall in the middle of the two camps. I see it as a day of celebrating love, right now that means with my family. It's not romantic. When I was smaller, it meant getting to eat chocolates and having a heart drawn on my cheek by my Mum with eyeliner, sometimes also with glitter.

gina said...

Cute and lovely. Although I must ask, what kind of frosting did you use? Palm oil based? Earth balance? I usually use palm oil, but does earth balance taste better? I also think coconut oil could be good, but probably too melty?


Melaina said...

These look so good! I also love that the recipe is specifically for just TWO cakes!

I'm wondering if I can use my go-to vanilla hemp milk in place of the coconut milk... Seems I've been enjoying coconut a little too much lately and by body is definitely noticing it (*sigh*). Let me know what you think about this substitution :-)

Iris said...

Such a cute memory, Zoe! My mom always had a sweet Valentine's Day gift ready for us at the breakfast table, so that's my favorite memory.

Gina, I've used Earth Balance and Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening to make frosting, although I personally think these cakes would taste awesome with a chocolate glaze. ;)

Melaina, I'm sure you could use any type of milk. The only thing is that you might have to use a little less than what is called for here, but I couldn't give you an exact amount.

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Very cute post, Iris. Adorable little cakes, too. :-)

I loved reading about Zoe's memory. Sweet idea.

I'm in the very pro Valentine's Day camp, but mostly every other year as that's when we host our biennial Valentine's Day bash. So all our efforts go that event as a gift to each other and our friends. Alternating years we don't do much, maybe have a special dinner at home and exchange cards. Works for us!


laurelvb said...

I think the Vanilla ones sound lovely, I'd never thought of apricots and I kind of like muffins myself.I love the story, Valentine's day not so much as Christmas. Very funny. I also love that it only makes 2 cupcakes. Leftovers are never as good. Thank you for this.

Jonathan said...

Sounds yummy! And thanks for including the results of making a vanilla version for those of us who can't have chocolate. :)

Kaycee said...

Thanks for the yummy recipe. I am craving for it and thanks for my boca raton cosmetic dentist for taking care of my teeth even I always eat chocolates.. :-)


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