As a kid, I hated the day after Christmas because it was tough coming down from all the excitement, gift opening and family. Now I appreciate it more, it still feels like Christmas to me minus the stress of wrapping gifts, cooking and shopping. Today I’ve been relaxing, cleaning and enjoying the peace after so much excitement the last two days. My kitchen needed a serious cleaning and two dishwasher loads later, I think I’m getting there. And I was grateful to get back to my veggie loaded breakfast smoothie this morning after so much indulgence. And relieved my favorite pair of jeans still fit. :-) I’ve also been sorting tons of pictures from our new camera after taking like a million last night. Yeah, I need to prefect the quality over quantity method as I get to know the camera better. But we’ve been having a blast playing with it and trying to be professional photographers. So I’ll apologize in advance for the excessive amount of pictures that will probably be posted over the next few weeks.
I heard through the grapevine that my dad’s wife was bringing a chocolate cake to the Christmas Day gathering, so I figured dueling cakes would be fun and decided to bring a raw version of a chocolate cake. For the perfect recipe, I broke out a book I haven’t used in too long, Jennifer Cornbleet’s Raw for Dessert.
Over a year ago, I caught her doing a raw dessert demonstration at Whole Foods to promote this book and picked up a signed copy. But for odd reasons, haven’t used it as much with so many other raw books and little time. Part of it is I try not to indulge on too many desserts for regular eating and this book contains a lot of fancy special occasion recipes. A lot of the recipes are great for parties because they’re large cakes, pies and tarts with 8 servings and creative ideas to top them with sauces and goodies for an impressive presentation.
I opted for the 8-serving chocolate cake with fudge frosting which is a perfectly thick blend of walnuts, dates and cacao powder and seasonings. But I found the key to this recipe is a powerful food processor because it requires the nuts and seasonings to be processed to a near powder before feeding in raw, tough dates to add sweetness and moisture to the cake mixture. But that causes the batter to turn into a huge, heavy glob that rattles around the inside of the food processor. It would probably cause a cheaper food processor with a less-stable base to crack the bowl and/or throw itself off the counter! Very much like my mom’s nearly did when I put frozen bananas in it. Our Cuisinart 14-cup Elite handled this beautifully, but the motor base on it is so heavy that I can barely move it on our counter.
Jennifer recommended mashing the cake mixture into a 6-inch cheesecake pan, but I only had an 8-inch which seemed to work fine.
I poured the chocolate ganache icing over the top, then stuck it in the freezer for 20 minutes to solidify a bit. After I got artsy with some frozen berries for presentation, then stuck it back in the freezer where it stayed before we left for the party.
At the party, I placed the cake in the fridge to keep cold and soften up before it was served about 4 hours later. And when I popped it out of the cake pan, I had a beautiful work of art!
And the juices from the defrosted berries added a wonderful flavor to the cake. As it is with any of our gatherings, there was way too much food. Tons of appetizers before we even get to dinner that included veggie trays, chips and guacamole, cookies, crackers and cheese plates. Usually by the time we get to dinner, people are already complaining they don’t have room for it. So I wasn’t expecting the cake to completely disappear with other dessert selections and everyone being so stuffed.
But it nearly did, there was only one piece left by the end of the evening. My 90-something grandma had to take a piece home with her because one of her friends, a retired chef, didn’t believe raw desserts could be so good and she wanted to prove it. Too cute! The cake had an amazing flavor, a very rich, deep chocolate with a slight berry hint and a texture of a moist, dense cheesecake. One little slice went a long way in terms of being filling, whew! As for the other cake? Well, this was what was left of it.
It was good I’m sure. :-)
Also at the party was amazing homemade-from-scratch pasta my sister and her husband created, so I had to try it.
With my two types of salad of course. :-) The texture on the pasta was fabulous, or perfectly al dente. I’m typically not a pasta gal, but this was worth the occasional splurge.
And it wouldn’t be a family gathering without a healthy wine selection. :-)
Now I think it’s time to walk the dog and play with camera some more. :-)