Not the Same Old Flourless Chocolate Cake
While in pursuit of a new twist on a Passover-possible dessert, I stumbled upon something really cool: a chocolate loaf cake made with amaranth and quinoa flours.
Quinoa (KEEN-WAH), a leafy plant (chenopodium quinoa) that is native to Andes mountainous regions in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, has become very trendy in U.S. culinary circles as a versatile, gluten-free, high- protein "grain" which isn't a grain at all. In fact, the seeds are more like a cereal, which can be boiled in water like rice and dried and ground into flour. Not only is it high in protein, it's a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. For celiacs, quinoa flour is a gluten-free dream come true, and in the course of my research, have learned that it's considered acceptable Kosher for Passover fare.
The very savvy Bea Peltre, the blog mistress at La Tartine Gourmande, takes this clever choco-quin idea a step further with the addition of amaranth flour, made (similarly) from the seeds of this green leafy plant with Native American roots. If you're from or have traveled through the Caribbean, you may know amaranth as callaloo, in Mexico you may know it as quelite and in China, yin choy. I haven't asked Bea why she mixed the two, but I'm thinking it's because amaranth flour has a milder aroma and sweeter flavor than quinoa flour, which is somewhat malty and, on the tongue, slightly crunchy.
Like quinoa, amaranth is gluten free. Because of its chemical makeup, it would seem Passover-possible. However, I have not found an authoritative decision on the matter to date. If you know more, please share in the comments area below.
The cake results are delightful, yielding a brownie-style loaf that earns high marks for its chocolate-y intensity. Because it's not super sweet, it works well for breakfast, particularly if sliced thin, and I think this might be a beautiful mid-afternoon Passover snack with coffee.
In the recipe, below, you'll see my note about the use of butter versus Earth Balance non-dairy spread, but I'll leave those details for you to ponder and decide if this is appropriate for your family during Passover. Whatever you decide, give this one a whirl at some point. It's got me inspired to do more baking with these terrific alternative flours.
Today's Eco-Bite: King Corn, a documentary that ran the indie theater circuit last fall, is coming to your television screens this week. As part of PBS's "Independent Lens" programming, "King Corn" will air tomorrow, April 15, at 10 p.m. ET on Washington public television network, WETA, and rebroadcast next week. Check PBS for listings in your area.
Amaranth, Quinoa and Dark Chocolate Cake
From Beatrice Peltre's blog La Tartine Gourmande
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, about 70 percent
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
(KOD note: I used equal amounts of Earth Balance spread, which is non-dairy and certified Kosher, but alas, because of its soybean oil content, is not Kosher for Passover for Ashkenazi Jews, who do not eat kitniyot, which includes beans and legumes, during Passover... although I've been told derivatives of kitniyot are okay for some. Use as you see fit.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons amaranth flour (1 ounce)
3 tablespoons quinoa flour (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup pecans, chopped coarsely (1 ounce)
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a rectangular loaf pan (about "2 x 7 3/4") and line it with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate with the butter (or non-dairy spread) in a double-boiler (or a bowl placed on top of a pot full of simmering water).
Separate egg yolks from whites.
Beat yolks with sugar and vanilla until very light in color.
Add the melted chocolate to yolk mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add nuts and flours to batter until smooth in texture.
Add a pinch of salt to egg whites and beat them until you have stiff peaks. Gently fold into cake batter, making sure not to overmix and deflate. (Check out this great egg white-beating tutorial.)
Pour the batter in the mold and cook for about 45 minutes. Check if cake is done by inserting the blade of a knife or a skewer. It should come out almost dry, but not totally (the cake is moist).
Remove the cake and let cool slightly before unmolding. Let cool on a rack.
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