Is it a cake? Is it a cookie? Is it a slice, Is it a brownie? Look...who knows and it doesn't even matter because it is so darn delicious! What I can say though is that it is satisfying, dense and oh so sweet. If you have been following along on my insta stories you would know this cake has involved plenty of trials to reach this point. Ironically, working on recipes to make them as simple as possible often results in many, many iterations of the same thing and quite often that means cake for dinner! Now I'm not recommending cake for dinner but knowing that this one is made of wholefood, minimally processed ingredients definitely helps! I am so grateful and genuinely love it when you share your creations with me on Instagram. Make sure to tag @natural_harry so I can see it and do leave a comment down below. It means the world to me when you contribute to our little plant-based wholefoods community in that way. x Harry
Makes: One medium cake Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Equipment: Medium cake tin (i used an 18cm spring form cake tin), food processor Difficulty: Easy
5 medjool dates, pitted (these are the fresh dates) 1 cup (80 g) whole rolled oats 1 cup (125 g) chickpea (besan) flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons hulled tahini (or nut butter) 1/2 cup (125 ml) plant-based milk (I've used almond, coconut and oat) 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup (the real stuff!) 1/2 cup (80 g) dark vegan chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celcius fan-forced (180 degrees conventional). In a small bowl, pour over your dates with boiling water and leave to soak for a few minutes while you prepare the rest.
Add the rolled oats to your food processor and process to form a coarse flour. Add your chickpea flour, baking powder and salt. (Tip: if you have a really high-powered food processor you can make chickpea flour from dried chickpeas). Pulse or blend again to evenly combine.
Drain your dates and add to the dry ingredients in your food processor. Add the remaining ingredients aside from the chocolate. Pulse to evenly combine and process to form a smooth dough.
Add 3/4 of your dark chocolate pieces and mix well. I do this step manually so make sure the chocolate remains intact.
Line a cake tin with non-stick compostable baking paper, making sure the sides are also covered all the way to the top. Spread your mixture evenly over the tin.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remainder of your chocolate pieces. Place in the oven (on the middle or lower shelf) to bake for approx. 35 minutes. I would suggest checking halfway. This cake doesn't rise super high but it will crisp up on top and become lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then carefully remove the baking paper from the base of the cake.
I think this cake is most delicious served fresh with a big dollop of plant-based ice cream (look for a clean ice cream with a short list of ingredients from whole foods). I also like to serve it with some fresh berries!
COOKS NOTES GENERAL: On the sweeteners - The dates play a part in binding this cake together, so if you are wanting to reduce the natural sugars I suggest swapping the maple syrup rather than the dates. You can swap for another natural sweetener such as coconut sugar or date syrup. For a less sweet version, I would go for swapping in 1 mashed ripe banana or 1/2 cup stewed apple. Serving suggestions - I really think this crumbly creation is best served fresh. It does make a good share dessert or snack at a picnic. However, you can also store it in the fridge, in an airtight container and reheat before serving. Berries, yoghurt, ice-cream and chia jam all compliment this chocolate version when served along side it. It really is delicious together or just on its own! Cookie or cake? - You could also make this version into cookies which is super easy! Simply line a baking tray with baking paper and spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto the tray, leaving enough room for the cookies to spread and rise a little. Cook at 180 degrees celcius fan-forced for half the time (check they're done and cook for a little longer if needed) and leave to cool before removing from the tray! SWAPS: Grain free - To make this cake grain free you can remove the oats all together. The cake will not rise as much and will a different consistency but it works as giant cookie. Keep an eye on it as it cooks as it may take less time in the oven. You can also substitute oats for quinoa flakes, buckwheat or brown rice flakes, all of which will achieve a different consistency. Tahini - You can swap the tahini for any other nut or seed butter. I don't recommend using unhulled tahini as it has a bitter flavour that will stand out in the finished product. Do note that butters with stronger flavours will lend a more intense flavour to the cake. My pick of the bunch would be almond, peanut or cashew butter. Nuts and seeds - For a completely nut and seed free variation you can replace the tahini with coconut butter. Coconut butter (made from ground desiccated coconut) tends to harden when it cools so you will need less of it. Tahini or a butter are basically the fat and oil element in this cake so you could also substitute it for a good quality, unrefined plant oil such as coconut. Again you will need less, half the amount will do. Chocolate - If you are making this for some lucky kiddies and want to swap the chocolate out the options are endless. Frozen berries are a great one as is cooked apple, pear, apricot...the list goes on. You can spice these up with cinnamon and/or ginger too!