I love blackberries. There, I said it. I love their sweet, slightly gritty taste and the smell of them baking can send me into a happy, contented daydream. My love for blackberries comes from my childhood summers, those long weeks that seemed to stretch on and on. When there was no school to contain us wild beasts we could roam free, with parents busy it was easy to escape from under their watchful eye and sneak off.
Me and my younger brother would run to the top of the garden and struggle through the nettles to get behind the old barn. We would climb over the fence and jump down into the huge field that ran alongside our garden. If we looked to our left, it spanned all the way to the farm in the distance, and if we ran straight ahead the ground dipped and sank down, down, down to the little stream at the bottom, before reaching up, up, up again to the horizon.
It was alongside the stream, in a dense, knotted wood that we would find the most juiciest of blackberries. They were hard to spot though, and difficult to retrieve.
The best blackberries are always surrounded by brambles and nettles, at the very top of the hedgerow, almost impossible to get to. And that of course is why they're the best; because nobody and nothing can get to them. They have been sat there, growing and swelling under the sun, bursting with the sweetest juice. One simply can not walk past and just leave them there for Jack Frost to spit on.
So you need a good stick, preferably one that has a hooked end. And if there's two of you the one can lift the other, or at least push back the brambles so the other can get close enough to pull the blackberries within grabbing distance.
We would try our best not to gobble them all on the walk back and if we had had a good haul, mum would bake blackberry and apple crumble that we would eat for dinner.
Since my cravings for blackberries appear to have started early this year and the end of summer is a long wait, I channeled my inner city girl and ran out to the shops.
Naughty I know, but oh, oh once you taste this cake you'll see why I just had to have the blackberries now.
This cake, truly is a Love Me Forever Cake. It's Chocolate and Blackberry With Toasted Almonds and Coconut cream....
It's got a salty date caramel swirled through it that creates a gooeyness that melts on your tongue.
It's fudgey on the inside and slightly firmer on the outside, like the perfect brownie.
Oh and did I mention it's vegan and grain free? And had beans in it? And has no refined sugar?
Well there you go! I don't like calling cakes 'healthy' because for me, that takes all the fun out of eating the cake. I want to be naughty! If I can't get my naughty fix by eating cake who knows what I'll turn to?! I might even start walking on grass when a sign clearly states not too...and you wouldn't want that now would you?
So here it is folks, The Naughty Little Blackberry...
Chocolate&Blackberry Cake With Toasted Almonds
1 oz Ground almonds - toasted
1 Can black beans - drained and rinsed
2 oz Date caramel - see below for recipe
2 oz Agave syrup
3 Heaped tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp Coconut oil
2 tbsp Ground flax seed - mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 Shot of espresso
A good splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 oz Frozen blackberries
1-2 tsp Agave syrup
1 tsp Arrowroot powder
Splash of vanilla
Small handful of toasted flaked almonds
1 oz Dark chocolate - chopped into chunks
Lets get baking!
First things first, blend up 1 oz of almonds until they're like fine breadcrumbs, spread them out on a baking tray and lightly toast them in the oven on 200 c until they're golden. Set them aside.
If you haven't bought any ready made flaked toasted almonds, then just do what I do! Simply lay a small handful of whole almonds on a baking tray, toast them in the oven on 200 c for a few minutes - they should be golden on the inside and smelling delicious! - then take them out and using a sharp knife, carefully split them in half. Don't worry if a few crumble, they'll still look pretty!
You could also combine your flax and water right about now, to give it time to gel together.
Drain the black beans and rinse them, and put them in your favourite large mixing bowl.
Add the coconut oil, cocoa powder and baking powder and use a hand held blender to blend until it's all combined and smooth - the mixture will be quick thick and sticky at this point.
Scrape off any mixture on the blender - don't waste any my dear!
Now add the shot of espresso, yes that's right into the bowl not your mouth! Give it a good stir, the mixture should loosen up and look more like runny batter.
Now stir in the ground flax mixture, vanilla, salt, date caramel and agave syrup and mix well so it all combines - it should thicken up slightly now, more like a regular batter.
Now you can stir in the ground almonds.
Use coconut oil and cocoa powder to lightly grease and dust a 6" deep cake tin. I use the make Silverwood because I think they're amazing. Not only do they look really nice; simple, elegant and slightly vintage, but because they're made from anodized aluminium they conduct heat amazingly. Meaning no hot spots due to even heat distribution and not to mention they're really hard wearing.
But anyway, enough of my love affair, we've got baking to do!
Once you've poured the batter into your cake tin, chop some dark chocolate and sprinkle it over the top. If you want the chocolate to be inside the cake rather than on top, then simply use a cocktail stick (or your finger!) to poke the chocolate into the batter.
Now stick it in the oven to bake at 175 c for 45 minutes - 1 hour. I wanted my cake quite firm so I left it in for almost the whole hour, but if you wanted a cake slightly gooey in the middle then 40-45 minutes should do it.
Now good looking, whilst that's a cooking...
Make your Blackberry Glaze
Pop the frozen blackberries into a pan on the stove, a little milk pan will do, and warm them through gently for a few minuets.
Now add the agave syrup and stir. Turn the heat up slightly so that it starts to bubble and let it simmer so that the blackberries become soft and the juices run out. You can add more syrup depending on how sweet you like it. I only added about 2 little tsp so that I didn't override the delicate blackberry flavour.
After about 5 minutes add in the vanilla and arrowroot powder and stir until combined. Cook for a further few minutes just to let it thicken.
Remove it from the heat and set aside for later.
Now comes the fun part....
When your cake is done (use a cake tester/cocktail stick and poke it through the middle of your cake, it should come out almost clean) leave it to cool on a wire rack, preferably near an open window to make passers by jealous.
Scoop your blackberry glaze onto the cake, pouring the juices all over it.
The smell is like nothing on earth. It is like Heaven, like a piece of cloud from Heaven has floated down and your head is in the cloud and you can smell it.
The warm, nutty chocolate simmers perfectly with the tangy, sweet blackberries all brought together by that classic vanilla baking smell.
Liberally scatter the flaked, toasted almonds over the top and then try to see how long you can last before eating a piece.
I scoffed mine with whipped coconut cream.
All you need to do is....
Let a can of coconut milk chill in the fridge for a while, until all the 'cream' gathers on top, separated from the coconut water.
Scoop the 'cream' out, add a splash of vanilla and a tsp of agave syrup and using a whisk, whip it up so it's fluffy.
This cake made me feel like a little kid again, little enough to sit on a chair and swing my legs because they were too short to touch the floor, a purple stain over my face from eating too many blackberries and a full, happy tummy.
I'm thinking about doing a full post on a recipe for Date Caramel, but here's a little quite recipe to keep you going...
To make Date Caramel
3 oz Dates
3 fl oz Water
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Lemon juice - a good squeeze
2-4 tbsp Coconut milk - adjust for the right consistency
Simply simmer the dates in the water until they'e soft and mushy.
Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, salt and lemon juice. Blend it all together.
Now add the coconut milk until your get the consistency you want.
Happy baking! x