Dark Chocolate Eggplant Torte with Apricot Gelee

Sometimes I am amazed by my own ingenuity, which may also border on weirdness. I had leftover eggplant (aubergine) and was wondering what to do with it, being weary of the usual eggplant pastas, eggplant stews and eggplant casseroles. How about… eggplant for desserts?

So maybe this is not a groundbreaking idea; the Italians have Melanzane al Cioccolato or Eggplant with Ricotta and Chocolate. This dessert consists of thin slices of eggplant being pan-fried then coated with cinnamon sugar, layered with sweetened ricotta and chocolate, then topped with almond flakes. On hindsight, eggplant has certain characteristics that imbues it with dessert course possibilities. While plain eggplant is bland, it metamorphosizes into a sweet smoky gooey mess when roasted, the classic flavor associated with baba ghanoush. After some brainstorming, I came up with an idea for a dense and deeply dark rich chocolate cake (torte) wherein roasted eggplants and banana would replace the copious butter and eggs.

However I think a good chocolate cake should have at least two dimensions going on to provide a contrast in flavours and to add curiosity to the palate. For example chocolate mole has chili for spiciness and berries in chocolate add a vibrant fruity twang. With apricots in season, I thought I turned them into a bright zesty apricot gelee to bring a stark contrast to the dark chocolate torte, both visually and in flavour.

This was my first time attempting a layered cake and it wasn’t that daunting after all, except that it requires more patience for the different layers to set. I was really excited to see the cake rise proudly like a souffle in the oven, but as it deflated out of the oven, so did my hopes fall with it. However, I later learnt that this is normal of tortes because of the lack of gluten to trap air. So if you get a sunken crater-like crackly top, do not be disheartened because this is indeed what it should be – a cake so dense with chocolate that it can’t even support it own weight. Indeed, a sign of promising things to come 😉

Also, be aware that you’ll need to let the torte cool for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before you slice it and pour in the gelee because it is much easier and cleaner to slice a cold cake. No nasty crumbs falling out! The gelee itself takes another few hours to completely set, so be prepared to devote half a day to making this cake.


It was agonizing to do the photo-taking because all I wanted to do was sink my teeth into this torte. There wasn’t neither a hint of eggplant or banana at all, though I supposed they helped keep the cake superbly moist. The apricot layer was a delight, cutting through the rich fudge and bringing the cake alive. The texture of the gelee could probably do with some tweaking; I found it slightly too soft. Also, I think I would add more lime/lemon juice and zest and do away with the honey in the gelee because the apricots themselves were so naturally sweet it would be nicer for a more punchy zest flavour.

Dark Chocolate Eggplant Torte with Apricot Gelee
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-inch cake
Ingredients
  • For the Chocolate Torte
  • 1/2 eggplant, roasted (76 g puree, see Notes)
  • 80 g good quality dark vegan chocolate, broken into chunks (I used Green & Black's 85%)
  • Heaping 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • Heaping 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour or ground almonds for gluten-free)
  • 1/2 large ripe banana (70 g), sliced into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch sea salt
  • For the Apricot Gelee
  • 1/2 cup apricots, skins removed (~1/3 cup or 70 g puree from 4 apricots)
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon agar powder
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 lime or 1-2 slices of lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • Decoration
  • 2 apricots, sliced
  • 1 lime or 1-2 slices of lemon
Instructions
Chocolate Torte
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a 4-inch spring-form pan with baking paper and lightly grease the sides with oil.
  2. Using the food processor. puree the roasted eggplant and banana. You could also manually mash them.
  3. Place the puree and chocolate chunks into a ceramic bowl set over a pan of simmering water to melt the chocolate. Stir often until the chocolate is melted and combined with the eggplant and banana. Stir in honey.
  4. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
  5. Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the cocoa mixture until just combined. The batter should be fairly thick.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  7. When you remove the torte from the oven it will have puffed up and deflated, but do not be alarmed. Allow the torte to cool in the tin for a couple of hours, then place into the fridge.
Apricot Gelee
  1. Remove the cake from the fridge and slice into two halves. Set aside.
  2. Make the apricot puree. To remove the apricot skins easily, blanched them in boiling water for a few (3-4) minutes then immediately transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. The skins should slip off easily.
  3. Puree the apricots in a food processor then transfer to a bowl. Alternatively you can mash them manually. Squeeze the lime or lemon into the apricot puree to prevent browning.
  4. Next prepare the agar mix. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. In a small bowl mix honey with boiling water. When the honey just about dissolves, add the agar powder and stir until the agar has completely melted and the mixture thickens. You may microwave the mixture briefly in 5-second pulses to thicken it.
  5. Pour the agar mix into apricot puree, stirring well to combine.
  6. Place one half of the cake back into the springform pan, pour the apricot gelee over, then sandwich with the second layer of cake. Return the cake to the fridge to allow the gelee layer to set. This will take 2-3 hours.
Assembly and final touches
  1. Remove the cake from the pan. Using a palette knife, run over the sides of the cake to scrap away any excess gelee that is sticking out. Also, if the top of the cake is uneven (eg. sunken), slice away the top to create an even layer.
  2. Cut about 2 apricots into slices and squeeze lime or lemon juice over to prevent browning. Arrange the slices on the top of the cake in concentric circles, starting with the outer layer.
  3. Admire your work of art, serve and enjoy! (Best enjoyed after about 10 minutes out of the refrigerator.)
Notes
To roast eggplant, wrap it tightly in aluminium foil and bake at 400°F/200°C for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size. Remove from oven and let it cool in the foil for another 30 minutes before scraping the eggplant flesh from the skin.[br][br]You may use all bananas instead of eggplant.[br][br]Recipe is vegan and has gluten-free option.
 

I would go so far to claim that this vegan Dark Chocolate Apricot Torte would please the most chocoholic of chocoholics, and even melt the hearts of the stoniest carnivore. So even if I’m not the first to use eggplants in desserts, I am still amazed by my own ingenuity to make an eggplant torte. Black bean brownies are passe; try this torte!

facebook|twitter|pinterest
  • sarah - Welp, this was unexpected! I did not see the eggplant, (it’s aubergine in Scotland, but I’ve fallen into the habit of saying eggplant due to reading blogs), in this cake coming at all.

    I consider myself a lover of all veggies. Truthfully though, eggplant ranks lowly, definitely not a favourite vegetable of mine . I put this largely down to the difficulty i seem to have cooking it well, and the fact that it seems to act as a sponge for fats I consider myself a lover of all veggies. Truthfully though, eggplant ranks lowly, definitely not a favourite vegetable of mine . I put this largely down to the difficulty i seem to have cooking it well, and the fact that it seems to act as a sponge for fats I consider myself a lover of all veggies. Truthfully though, eggplant ranks lowly, definitely not a favourite vegetable of mine . I put this largely down to the difficulty i seem to have cooking it well, and the fact that it seems to act as a sponge for fats I consider myself a lover of all veggies. Truthfully though, eggplant ranks lowly, definitely not a favourite vegetable of mine . I put this largely down to the difficulty i seem to have cooking it well, and the fact that it seems to act as a sponge for fats and oil.
    Saying that, I bet I’d love in the form of a decadent chocolatSaying that, I bet I’d love in the form of a decadent chocolatSaying that, I bet I’d love in the form of a decadent chocolatSaying that, I bet I’d love in the form of a decadent chocolate cake!
    And I’m a HUGE fan of unconventional ingredients in desserts.

    This torte does look seriReplyCancel

    • Sabrina - Hi sarah, I think there’s something wrong with WP because I can’t seem to view your comment properly (it keeps repeating itself). A common tip on preparing eggplants to prevent it from absorbing fat and oil is to salt it and let it sit for 20-30 mins before rinsing the salt off. I find this works pretty well for dishes where the eggplant is served sliced such as in casseroles or stir fries as it also helps to remove the bitterness.

      Do give this a try! Oh yes, may I know your IG username?ReplyCancel

      • sarah - Yikes, sorry, I’ve no idea why my comment posted like that, & half of what wrote is missing. Sheesh, technology!

        I’ve actually heard about salting eggplant before. Truth be told, I’ve sort of given up on this vegetable by this point. Shamefully, I have actually bought eggplant and let it go rotten, or cooked it , & thrown it out due to not liking it. I HATE wasting food! I’ve even made an eggplant pizza crust, (recipe from The Nutritious Kitchen), and not even that converted me to liking it. I give up.

        Basically, the rest of my 1st comment said:
        Your torte looks like the perfect chocolatey summery treat.
        Your culinary creativity is enviable.
        And I was excited to hear you’ve been to Edinburgh:), I live in Glasgow.

        I actually don’t have an instagram account, or a blog or anything. I just love perusing them! …or wasting time/ procrastinating over foodie things, lol.
        XxxReplyCancel

        • Sabrina - Thanks for the compliments and I would love to visit Glasgow too! Everybody needs an outlet to relax and I’m pretty sure Instagram stalking is a valid one 😉

          Well, I hope you have better luck with eggplants in the future because they’re really yummy. Have you tried baba ghanoush (middle eastern eggplant spread). Oh, the smokiness from the roasted eggplants + tahini is amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Trisha - This looks pretty nice – but yes.. the eggplant is a very interesting addition! I will have to try it! xReplyCancel

  • Liz - “roasted eggplants and banana would replace the copious butter and eggs” I would never have dreamed of such a replacement especially the eggplants. When I see eggplants, I see savoury foods not cakes. I hope the taste was okay coz, at the end of the day, that’s what really matters. Thanks for sharing this twist of ingredients. I am pretty sure you’re snoring now. Happy zzzzzzzz……ReplyCancel

    • Sabrina - I’ve always associated eggplants with the savories but now I see them in a new light! Nope, I’m still quite wide awake though its 23:40 here :)

      Hope the weather is kinder on your side now :)ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*

Rating: