For the fourth flavour in my energy cake series, I decided on Red Velvet. The words when rolled off the tongue conjures an image of mahogany satin fabrics of luxurious smoothness which is quite true to its roots. The original Red Velvet is named after its strong and seductive color and texture, the result of a chemical reaction between cacao and buttermilk and vinegar. Cacao (or cocoa if you are more familiar with) contains anthocyanins, a chameleon plant pigment that changes colour depending on pH. In acidic conditions such as those provided by the buttermilk and vinegar, anthocyanins are red. Also the reaction of baking soda with the acids creates bubbles that produced a light fluffy and silky smooth texture.
However in my no-bake version, I wanted to show off the arresting brightness of the beets and not have it dulled by cacao powder; hence the latter was relegated to the crust layer. The beet layer is simply blended with soaked cashew nuts and nothing else, not even any sweetener. With this, you wouldn’t have to bother with thinking about pH and whether the color will come out “red” enough. On the opposite end of the scale, many commercial versions of Red Velvet Cake dump red food coloring into their products which obviously promises garish looking cakes, but why would you resort to something synthetic when nature offers a natural dye? Artificial colorings have also been linked to adverse behavior, especially hyperactivity in children.
On a whim, I added halved red globe grapes before assembling the two halves. This deserves the award for the most serendipitious discovery because it turned out like a fruit lava cake for when serve sightly thawed, grape juice would seep and blend into the lusciousness of the earthy beet cream.
Just for shares, I came across this quote of truism recently and it struck.
When you’re young you have time and energy but no money. When you get older you have money and energy but no time. And later when you finally have time and money, you no longer have energy (Annette Gulick).
Time, money, energy, dreams, goals. You know how when you were little, adults like to of your dream career or occupation? I never knew what I wanted to be. And now that I am already a young adult, I am finally starting to find myself. I have my aspirations written down in a notebook, and am using the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) technique to slowly build up my nest. Many projects are in beta stage and blooming.
On a second side note, the energy cake project is veering slightly from its original intention (portable fruit snack bars), because it has now morphed into a semi-dessert range and is unfortunately, not very portable. Nevertheless, tasty food is worth sharing and the components of the recipes are very versatile for many applications.
- 2 cups (200 grams) rolled oats
- 4 tablespoons (4 grams) raw cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon (4 grams) raw carob powder
- ¼ cup (40 grams) dried golden raisins, soaked in water for at least 15 minutes
- ¼ teaspoon espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons tahini or other nut/seed butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice*
- 125 grams cashew puree (from about ¾ cup dry cashews, soaked overnight)
- 200 grams beet puree (from about 1 medium beet, roasted)
- ½ teaspoon acai powder (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon agar powder
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Grapes or other berries, halved
- Tahini or other nut/seed butter, to drizzle
- First make the cacao energy cake layer. in a food processor all ingredients for the energy cake layer and pulse a few times until the oats break down and forms a sticky dough. Be careful not to over blend!
- Press out the dough to ½-inch thick into a non-stick or stoneware baking dish or tray. It will fill an 8x8-inch pan just nicely.
- Return the dish to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to harden.
- Next, prepare the red velvet layer. In a food processor, blend cashew puree with the beet puree until well blended.
- Dissolve agar powder in the hot water, then add the mixture to the food processor with the beet puree. Also add in acai powder if using. Process again for about 1 minute, then transfer out into a bowl.
- Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and spread the red velvet cream over the chocolate oat layer. Using a sharp knife dipped into hot water, slice the layers vertically into two. Arrange grape halves on one portion, then flip the other un-fruited half over and press down to form energy "cakes."
- Drizzle with melted tahini. Return the baking dish to the refrigerator to set.
- To serve, use a sharp knife dipped into hot water and slice the layers into two seven or eight. Store any remainders in an air-tight container for up to a week.