I was talking with a friend who eschews all things gluten-ous. ‘I have a recipe for a chocolate quinoa cake,’ she told me, ‘you totally can’t tell it’s quinoa….it’s so good.’
I was intrigued. She said it was good, that you couldn’t even tell it was made with quinoa. And I had quinoa at home, thanks to a Costco purchase many months ago. (I’d made a handful of salads but the bag was nowhere near empty.) ‘I’ll email it to you,’ she promised. And two days later, she did.
I scanned the list of ingredients and concluded I actually had everything on hand. (Though I had no idea if my quinoa is white or golden, it is merely called ‘quinoa’ on the package.) So I made the cake late one evening. The flavor was good. But the cake was only about an inch thick and there was no denying the presence of uncooked (hard!) bits of quinoa.
My first thought was to toss it in the trash, but I decided to conduct a blind taste test, anyway. After all, my kids have bad taste when it comes to food, I’ve decided. Tuna casserole made with cream of mushroom soup? Delicious! Canned black beans and rice? Wow!
Given their preferences, ‘chewy-crunchy chocolate cake’ could become their new favorite dessert.
I told no one of my secret ingredient, and waited for the reviews to come in. I sent a piece to school with the Gort. ‘How was your chocolate cake,’ I asked him when he came home that afternoon. ‘It was yummy,’ he declared, ‘can I have another piece?’
I gave the Hen a small triangle after lunch. He took a bite…..and handed it back to me. ‘I don’t like it,’ he explained. I handed the professor a triangle to taste. ‘Oh, I tasted it last night,’ he declined, ‘I’m not crazy about the…..’ he trailed off, at a loss for words. ‘The bits?’ I suggested, helpfully. ‘Yeah,’ he agreed.
My final taste tester, young Percy, ate the cake without complaint. (To be fair, he probably didn’t even chew it, so the ‘crunchy bits’ may have escaped him.)
Two votes in favor, two votes against, I figured there was no need to make the cake again. I mean, quinoa is good-for-you and all, but with four eggs and nearly a cup of butter, the cake isn’t exactly ‘healthy’ fare.
And the next night after dinner, all four of the Johnson-boys polished off the rest of the cake.
So maybe I will make it….again. After all, I seem to have an endless bag of quinoa.
Chocolate Quinoa Cake
2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1-1/2 cups white or cane sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until smooth.
Combine sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on the centre rack for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to a month.