Welcoming 2012 with a Chocolate Date cake

A Very Happy New Year to all of you! May 2012 bring you the very best in life! A lot of  you may be wondering about the long hiatus in posts at OhTastenSee. That is because I am currently on vacation in India. We had just moved to the new house – and just when the great job of unpacking was done, we had to start packing for our trip to India. I had very little time to capture the dishes I was making, and hence blogging sort of had to take a step back. I am enjoying my short vacation(only 4 weeks) with a lot of food and love. I decided to totally abstain from browsing and checking email – and truly be on vacation. However, I couldnt resist doing a New Years Post on OhTastenSee.

So here goes….This is a recipe I had bookmarked a long time back, and I had baked this cake just before I left for India – for a get together with friends. It was a super moist cake that was loved by everyone so much. One of my friends even said, that they would totally pay for a piece of this cake, if I sold it by the piece. It was so lovely. I had made changes to the original recipe  by substituting part of the dates with some dried cherries. You can substitute any dried fruits you have, I think it would still work the same. Here is the recipe I had adapted from here:

1 1/2 cups pitted dried dates, halved
1 cup dried cherries
1-1/2 cups water
2 tsps instant coffee powder
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the pan
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Preapare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing it with butter.

Place the water in a kettle or a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Pour the hot water in a bowl and add the instant coffee powder. You can warm leftover coffee and use it as well. Chop the dates and cherries into bite sized pieces and put it in the hot coffee. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 15-20 minutes during which time you can prep the rest of the ingredients and the dry fruits absorb all the coffee and come to room temperature.

Start by sieving together the dry ingredients: all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until it gets fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla extract.

The dates and cherries should have absorbed most of the coffee by now. Place the plumped up fruits along with any leftover coffee in a blender or food processor and puree this mixture completely.

Gently add one third of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar. Alternate this with half the date puree. Add another portion of the dry and the remaining date puree. Finish it off with the remaining dry mixture. Do not over beat. Instead use a spatula to make the batter uniform. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with chcolate chips.

Place it in the preheated oven and bake for an hour or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, then gently turn the cake out onto the rack to cool further. Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cover leftover cake with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Verdict: This cake is the moistest chocolate cake I have ever had. The flavor of the chocolate was beautifully complimented by the coffee and the vanilla. The cake in itself is not sweet by itself, the chocolate chip topping renders the required sweetness to the cake. If you choose to omit the chocolate chips, I would suggest increasing the brown sugar to a half cup. Again, it could depend on the type of dates used. I used California dates, if using Medjool dates, you wouldn’t need the extra sugar. You can also spread the molten chocolate chips – when the cake is just out of the oven to form a chocolate icing. This cake is a nice way to add some healthy nutrition to an otherwise sinful dessert.

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