My love affair with bean-baking continues, but this one was born of a mistake. It all began when I went to make hazelnut butter in the Vita-Mix last night. It turns peanuts into peanut butter in a matter of seconds, so this had to work like a charm, right? Wrong. A cup of aromatic hazelnuts were turned into little more than went sand after more than a minute of grinding. It looked hopeless. Chef Bill suggested that I add a bit of oil for viscosity. I considered it briefly then put the grainy mixture aside for the night.
Ingredients for a chickpea-based dessert were already assembled. The original plan to bake an almond cake segued into a foray into my first flourless and sugarfree hazelnut dessert. It may not sound exciting, but a long ago decided it was in my best interest to curb the sugar and flour – even gluten-free flour. My usage of it had gotten out of hand and a few pounds had crept back on when I wasn’t looking (the nerve of those pounds!). The past 15 months of baking sugarfree have taught me something valuable: If flavor is not to be extracted from a small mountain of white sugar, then extract it from something else, such as almonds or hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut, and generous splashes of vanilla.
The latest cake to be added to my flourless, bean-based repertoire is the perfect example. It looks bland and boring, but its flavors are both rich and subtle…that’s the power of the spectacular hazelnut, I suppose. A few pieces of this went on the road with me today for moments in which I either experienced hunger or watched others downing sweet desserts. Is it the same as having an apple fritter from the donut stand? Of course not. But eating apple fritters on a regular basis simply isn’t good for my relationship with size 8 jeans. And that’s one thing that’s worth keeping on an even keel.
Hazelnut Flourless Cake
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup ground hazelnuts (get them as sandy as possible, they shouldn’t look like chopped nuts)
3 eggs, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup sunflower or light olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
30 drops of stevia or 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or coconut palm nectar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Almond or coconut milk, for thinning the batter
Coconut oil for greasing the pan
In a food processor, blend the garbanzo beans until a chunky paste. Add 1 egg and continue blending until smooth. Add ground hazelnuts and the two remaining eggs and blend for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and add the oil, vanilla, salt and sweetener, blending until smooth. If the batter is too thick, add almond or coconut milk until it becomes the consistency of pourable cake batter.
Preheat oven to 350. Put two tablespoons of coconut oil into a round cake pan and grease liberally. Pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Turn heat back to 330 and bake another 10 minutes. Turn off oven and let cake sit for another 10 minutes. Serve warm if desired.