26 March, 2013

Get Your Seder On Bubala!!

As an adult, I have always had a hard time NOT celebrating Pesach (in English...Passover) in some form or another.  Aside from having some relatives that are members of the Jewish faith, Jesus was a Jew....how can you separate that?  I have never been able to.  

Being a Christian, I find myself seeing more and more similarities between faiths than differences these days.  So I made an executive decision to bring one of my favorite Seder recipes to you for your feast.  A flourless walnut-fig cake.  Originally it called for dates, but I didn't have any.  Figs are a perfect substitute for dates because they are so similar in flavor and texture.  Also, this recipe can really be made out of ANY tree nut, but if you have a tree nut allergy...go for what you know you can have.  Matzah.  3 c. of crushed matzah will work just as well as nuts.  This recipe, of course, will no longer be "flourless" if you use matzah, but it WILL still be unleavened.  Which is the bigger deal!

Now, for those of those that don't know...Pesach celebrates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and the miracle of being "passed over" when G-d sent the plagues to Egypt.  One of the most important aspects to this holiday is eating foods that are "leaven free".  This illustrates the speed at which they left Egypt...they didn't have enough time to let their bread rise.  They were GONE!  This is usually where Matzah comes in.  Being an inventive and resourceful people, they have found MANY ways to turn matzah into some pretty awesome dishes.  But, because that is such a common occurrence these days, I decided to go in a bit of a different direction....no flour at ALL!  All while, of course....keeping it dairy free.

Flourless Walnut-Fig Cake

cooking spray
parchment paper
3 c. crushed walnuts (you can use ANY tree nut, but NO peanuts)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. organic cane sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of Kosher salt
3/4 c. chopped figs

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 T. vegan buttery spread
1 tsp. honey
chopped, toasted walnuts for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Put the walnuts, cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse until finely ground but not powdery. Whisk the egg yolks, orange zest and vanilla, if using, in a small bowl.  I added my chopped figs to the egg yolk mixture.  It just made things easier...
Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until foamy. Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes. (Good test to know if your whites are done...after 8 minutes, turn the bowl upside down.  The whites should NOT move a single inch.  To ensure that your whites whip well...you could put the bowl in the fridge beforehand to cool it down.)  I used a stand mixer on medium speed.  If you use a hand mixer, this could take longer.

Fold in the yolk mixture and dates/figs.

 Then fold in the ground walnut/nut mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes (mine took more like 25-30 minutes...always check with a toothpick!!). Let cool in the pan on a rack, then run a knife along the sides and invert (flip over so the perfectly flat bottom is now the top of your cake) the cake onto a platter.

To make the glaze, put the chocolate (I used "Enjoy Life!" dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free semi-sweet mini chocolate chips),vegan butter spread and honey in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the butter melts, about 2 minutes OR melt it on the stove top at medium heat. Whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, then pour over the cake. Top with walnuts.

So!....this cake is absolutely AH-MAZING!!  You will NEVER notice that this cake is flourless.  Every single ingredient in this cake comes through in every single bite as well.  The orange zest hits you right about the same time as the fig/dates, the cinnamon is just a light note in the background and you TASTE walnuts but, after baking they take on the texture of a normal cake consistency.  Like I said....amazing!  The chocolate on top is, of course, the perfect kiss to this dish.  Just a light ganache that doesn't cover up or over power.  So fabulous.

I hope that you love this recipe as much as my Mister and I did.  The Sprout saw it and yelled "Cake!" but then didn't want to try it because there was chocolate on it.  I'm not sure how I had a child that doesn't like chocolate, but...that's what's goin on.  For our personal tastes, we won't be adding that many nuts to the top again, not even for presentation.  There was plenty of nut flavor in the cake and sprinkling raw walnuts all over the top was just too much and raw walnuts are a completely different flavor than baked or toasted walnuts.  So, for us...we will be skipping those when we have our next slice.  May you have a blessed and joyful Chag Ha'Cherut!!  

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