Sunday, November 11, 2012

Experimental Celebrations

Are you like me? What I mean is, do you ever decide to create something off the top of your head for a special occasion and then freak out part way through because it's not going the way you might have hoped, and you've already used lots of precious ingredients... and you knew this was a very real risk, but your enthusiasm to be inventive clouded the part of your brain that might tell you to be sensible and make something tried and true?

And my god, why would you think that it would be a good idea to create something new (and raw, and vegan) for someones (a carnivores) birthday and deprive them (and everyone else) of a regular menu item such as creme brulee or pumpkin pound cake with candied bacon ice cream?

This is exactly what I did for my friend's birthday last week. We were all having dinner at my place of work and I thought it would be extra special to make her a cake. Everyone deserves a birthday cake! My friend loves Mexico, Mexicans, Mexican food, margaritas and tequila. Excellent, I thought, I'll make her a Mexican inspired birthday cake! One catch... one of the guests (my very pregnant boss) is deathly allergic to nuts. Since I use nuts for everything, especially raw vegan desserts, this was a super challenge. Often people accommodate me when it comes to food so I thought I should do the same (and spend many paranoid hours in the kitchen dodging nuts).

So I threw some stuff together and came up with this. The sponge worked out better than I expected. It was dense, like a thin pound cake, moist and durable. The flavour was subtle, but I think if it was flavoured with lemon zest, raspberries, chocolate or something equally powerful it would really add some depth.

Mango Margarita Cake

Mango Sponge:
10 dried mango slices, soaked
1 cup frozen (thawed) mango chunks or fresh mango
1 cup coconut meat from a young Thai coconut
1/3 cup coconut water or more as needed
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup melted coconut butter (not oil, the butter)
¼ - ½ cup raw honey
blend in vita mix until smooth

In a bowl mix:
2 cups sifted fine coconut flour
½ cup psyllium husks
¼ cup raw honey (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine Himalayan salt
½ cup or more coconut water as needed

Combine both blender and bowl ingredients in a food processor until fully combined (scraping edges, stop-start…) you might only be able to do half of the mixture at once. It is kind of tricky and you might want to transfer it all to a bowl and knead with your hands to ensure it’s fully combined in the end.

Spread on one teflex sheet and dehydrate for 2-4 hours (about 1/2 inch thick) at 105 degrees. Flip and dry the underside for a shot time, maybe just a half hour.

Cut circles with 2 inch ring mold. You can stack these in a sealed container and keep in the fridge for a day or two if you want to make them ahead of time.

White Chocolate Lime Cream:
2 cups raw cocoa butter, shaved
1 cup coconut oil
Melt the oils together in dehydrator or double boiler
Transfer to fridge in metal bowl to firm. Once mostly firm but not too stiff, take out and using an electric egg beater, beat until white and fluffy, then with beaters running, add rest of the ingredients below:
Zest of one lime
6-10 drops lime essential oil
1 tsp or more vanilla extract
Agave to taste (about ¼ cup)

To Assemble:
Place ring mold on parchment paper
Put one of the sponge circles on the bottom
Follow with a layer of white chocolate lime cream
Top with another mango sponge circle
Lightly hold down the top sponge as you pull the ring mold off
Cover the top and sides with white chocolate lime cream

Ok so here is where things seemed perfect, and then my fancy-cake world crumbled before my eyes (literally). When I iced the cakes and put them in the fridge the cream/icing hardened so much that when I tested a piece of cake, the cream completely separated from the sponge when forked. NOOOOO!!

The icing was so firm that I ended up being able to strip it off each individual cake and put it all in a bowl to re-evaluate (I had less than 2 hours before dinner).

To fix it, I re-whipped the icing (it didn't whip very well, no time to melt-chill) and added Cointreau, water, more vanilla extract and liquid sunflower lecithin. It was tasty and a decent texture so I stopped there and re-iced the cakes. I DID NOT put them back in the fridge.

If I was to do it again, I would add a bunch of young coconut meat, Cointreau, coconut milk and lecithin from the beginning, and not put it in the fridge (make the icing close to the time of consumption).

I could have skipped writing about all of the drama, but since this blog is about experimentation, I think it's a good idea that you learn from my mistakes.

To Serve:
The cakes were quite rich, so I cut them in half and served them on top of a dried mango slice (held in place with raw honey) topped with Mango Tequila Sauce, Salted/Candied Lime Zest and a side of coarse grey sea salt.

Mango Tequila Sauce:
Dried mango flakes
Gold tequila
Agave Nectar
Blend with a hand blender until fully combined

Salted & Candied Lime Zest:
Zest one lime in long strips
Coat zest with a touch of fresh lime juice, fine Himalayan salt and coarse xylitol (natural sweetener derived from birch)
Dehydrate until dry

I also served this with Matthew Kenney's Milk Chocolate Fudge, but instead of almond milk I made coconut milk (shredded dried raw coconut flakes & water, blended on high and strained) and added ground cinnamon and cayenne.

No one died and no one knew they were missing bacon ice cream, so I say...

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