This gorgeous dairy and gluten-free recipe was devised by the very talented Harry Eastwood, who specialises in inventing cakes from unassuming vegetables. It makes a cake that I believe tastes just as good when you're happy as when you're sad. And if you're sad when you make it you'll be happy by the time you taste it. Who'd have thought something so sweet could be made from aubergine!
Adapted from Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood
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2 whole aubergines (weighing roughly 400g)
300g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids essential, broken into squares) I used Green & Blacks cooking chocolate - or use a dairy free chocolate
50g good quality cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting (Green & Blacks again)
60g ground almonds
3 medium or large free-range eggs
200g clear honey
2tsp baking powder (gluten free if necessary)
quarter tsp salt
1 tbsp good brandy
a handful of sweet local strawberries
1. Turn the oven to 180C (or 160C if using a fan oven like me). Line a 23cm x 7cm loose bottomed tin with baking parchment, grease and flour it so that the cake won't stick.
2. Randomly puncture the aubergines' skins erratically with a skewer, then place them in a bowl covered with cling film. Microwave on high for 8 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Get rid of any water left over. Place the aubergines in a bowl.
Alternatively, if you don't have a microwave, peel the aubergines with a potato peeler or knife, and cut them into small cubes and cook them with a tablespoon or so of water. That's what I did and it worked well. Once they're soft tip any leftover water out.
3. Then puree the aubergines in the blender. Once the warm aubergine is soft and smooth, add the chocolate, which will mingle and melt slowly. Set aside, covered once again in cling film, until all the chocolate has melted.
Or if like me you don't have a blender then mash the cooked aubergine with a potato masher until smooth. Add the chocolate chunks to the warm aubergine and stir/mash until all has melted.
4. Next stir all the other ingredients in a bowl until they're well mixed. Pour the melted chocolate and aubergine into the bowl with all the other ingredients.
5. Pour the mixture into the greased and lined tin and place it in the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes.
An idle note: for some reason when I made it the cake cooked so slowly it took more like 50 minutes to bake, and that was with the cake on the middle shelf - I suggest you check it after 30 minutes and then every 5 minutes or so.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for at least a quarter of an hour before very carefully placing it out on a wire rack. It may be a bit cracked, accept that as part of it's charm. Sieving cocoa powder over the top once the cake is cooled hides all the cracks and adds to the dark dense chocolate flavour, and some fresh strawberries on top contrast with the bitter grownup taste of the cake delightfully. This cake keeps best in the fridge, and is a delicious torte when eaten cold with or without cream. Enjoy!
This cake was idly baked to the sounds of Kate Bush's album The Red Shoes