Yesterday, my Ultimate Twin friends James and David turned 26, a great cause celebration if ever there was one just because these two guys are incredibly awesome. Panama City is awash with roof terraces from which one can eat and drink and generally be merry whilst taking in the gorgeous view of the city at night, so we camped out on a friend’s roof and ate all the amazing food we had. And there was a lot of it.
This was also a great excuse for me to veganise a recipe I’d been looking at for a while. You’ve all heard me talk about my Chocolate Beet Cupcakes and how much I love them, so you’ll already know how well vegetables can be incorporated into sweet recipes not just to make them healthier but to bring out amazing advances in taste and texture too.
Well, my good friend Lydia brought this Heartbreak Chocolate Aubergine Cake from the famed Harry Eastwood’s book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartbreak to my attention recently. This book is known for making enchanting desserts with vegetables from your garden, and it’s definitely on my to-buy list now.
I had heard of aubergine (eggplant) and courgette (zucchini) being used in cakes but had never tried it myself. Harry’s recipe looked gorgeous, but of course, it needed a good veganising before it was perfect. Cue some substitutions and a dusting of cocoa, and lo and behold, we have a vegan Eggplant Chocolate Torte to melt the heart of even the stoniest carnivore.
I call this a torte rather than a cake because it rises then depresses again, it contains no flour whatsoever, using ground almonds instead, and because it is far, far too rich to stand up to a frosting. This stands alone as one of the fudgiest, most chocolatey, most decadent desserts you could ever hope to put in your mouth, and the word “cake” just doesn’t do it justice.
Before you start this recipe, be aware that you’ll need to let the torte cool for at least 2 hours before you want to serve it, and you’ll need to keep it in the fridge until it’s almost needed. It’s easy to make, but you need to leave the time for resting. Also, you can either make this into one large torte or two smaller ones, one which can be cut up into chocolately bites for easier sharing. Both options work!
(Makes 1 large torte or 2 smaller ones)
2 eggplants (aubergines)
300 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) of good quality dark chocolate. I found that Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate actually works perfectly for this, and it’s 3 bars exactly
1/4 cup good quality cocoa
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 bananas, pureed
2/3 cup honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and line a 9 inch spring-form / loose bottomed pan (or two smaller ones) with baking paper and lightly grease the sides
Put the eggplants (aubergines) in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until all the skins are light brown and the eggplants are soft
Remove from the oven and scrape out the insides. Set the oven to 180 degrees C
Place the eggplant insides into a food processor, and blend to a puree
Place the puree and chocolate into a double boiler (or a ceramic bowl set over a pan of simmering water) to melt the chocolate. Stir often until the chocolate is melted and combined with the eggplant
Stir in the honey / agave nectar and the pureed bananas
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa, almonds, baking powder and salt
Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the cocoa mixture, until just combined
Pour the mixture into the tin/s and bake it at the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes, or 20 minutes if you’re making two smaller tortes
When you remove the torte from the oven it will have puffed up and deflated, and will look still very moist
Allow the torte to cool in the tin for a couple of hours, then release from the tin, leaving the baking paper on, and place into the fridge
After half an hour, remove the torte from the paper, cut off any crusty edges, dust with cocoa powder and serve!
A slice of this and a glass of a deep red wine (a Cabernet Franc, for example) might just be the closest you can get to heaven on Earth…and I say this as a person who’s not particularly a chocoholic. The depth of flavour here is just magnificent, and it’s as if chocolate fudge suddenly formed itself into a cake.
Everyone at the party was amazed by this torte and I’ll definitely be making it again. The veganised version is even more moist and delicious than the non-vegan version, due to the extra liquids and generally gorgeousness. A great way to use up the eggplants from your garden at the end of the season!