I used to subscribe to a lot of weekly emails from life coaches, wellness gurus, motivational speakers and the like. I found some of the tidbits they offered lightly inspirational on a good day, but on a bad one…ooof. the pitches that involved a $1500+ investment disgusted me when I thought of all the decent people just trying to take control of the inevitably volatile parts of life.
I turned 29 yesterday and it’s true that the layers of our human existence become more defined as time rolls on. Bits of the past inform us in the here and now, and we grow or lie still in the ways we push or allow ourselves to. Our minds and postures shift as we learn and do more. The spots where we stall, deliberately or by accident, help us to be here now in a more defined way too I think.
I used guilt myself over not getting frequent haircuts, my nails done etc. There’s a whole aura around grooming that speaks to having your life together, right? I’d get a couple days off and and just when I had psyched myself up enough to call a salon, I’d see a little patch of redness on my hand from a burn or any number of calluses, or my messy top knot. I enjoy working hard and eventually realized that reminders of that, in whatever form, were more important to me. Having the privilege to plug away at something that is meaningful is every indication that I have my life together.
Growth and birthdays are celebrated with cake around here, or a chocolate hazelnut tortw. Pretty sure I’m taking liberties with the designation of “torte” on tis one. Chocolate and hazelnut together is heaven in almost anything, but especially in this chocolate hazelnut torte. So I started with a dense brownie base and layered it up from there with a hazelnut cream and coconut whip. The date caramel has a tiny pinch of tang from some fresh lemon and I find it really makes all the flavours work together instead of the whole thing just being this overly rich and sweet experience.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TORTE WITH SALTY DATE CARAMEL & COCONUT CREAM
CHOCOLATE TORTE BASE
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground chia seeds
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup almond meal/flour
- ¾ cup hazelnut meal (or more almond meal)
- ¾ cup oat flour (certified gluten-free if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar (or cane sugar)
- ¼ cup coconut or almond milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
- ½ cup toasted hazelnuts
- 1 13.5 oz 400 ml can of full fat coconut milk
- 1 scant cup cashew butter
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil (at room temperature)
SALTY DATE CARAMEL
- 7-8 soft pitted Medjool dates
- Boiling water (to cover the dates)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- coconut whipped cream (see note)
- toasted and chopped hazelnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan with coconut oil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the chia seeds and water. Stir and set aside so that it can gel together and thicken.
- In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, hazelnut meal, oat flour, arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and to that add the coconut palm sugar, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Add the chia gel to the bowl as well. Give it a little stir.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Melt the two while you stir constantly to avoid burning the chocolate. Once it’s all melted and smooth, add it to the torte ingredients in the large bowl. Stir it all together until you have a stiff and unified batter.
- Press the chocolate torte batter evenly into the prepared springform pan. Place the pan on top of a cookie sheet and slide it into the oven. Bake for 30-33 minutes or until the top is firm. Remove and allow to cool completely. At this point I wrap the cake tightly in cling film and place it in the fridge to totally set overnight.
- Make the hazelnut mousse. In an upright high speed blender, combine the hazelnuts, coconut milk, cashew butter, maple syrup, salt, lemon juice, and coconut oil. Blend on high until completely smooth. Scrape the runny mixture into a bowl and cover it with cling film, pressing the film onto the surface of the mousse/liquid. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the mousse has firmed up considerably, preferably overnight.
- Make the date caramel: soak the dates in the hot water for about 15 minutes, and then drain them (reserving the soaking water). Place the softened dates into your blender/food processor. Add the lemon juice, salt, vanilla, and coconut milk. Blend this up a bit just to break everything up. Add reserved date soaking water as needed and blend the mixture again until you have a runny, smooth, caramel-like consistency. Scrape into a jar and seal with a lid until you’re ready to use it.
- Assemble the torte: place the chocolate torte base on your serving plate. Whisk the hazelnut mousse up a bit and scoop it onto the cake base, smoothing it out evenly. Top the torte with coconut whipped cream, date caramel, toasted chopped hazelnuts etc and serve immediately. Leftover torte can be covered and kept in the fridge for a couple days.
- I give the mousse + brownie/cake base a full 24 hour wrap-and-chill time. I figured the longer the setting time, the less possibility of heartbreak from a runny mousse or too-warm-in-the-middle cake.
- Also I know that certain brands of coconut milk tend to be better than others for forming solid layers of cream at the top–this one has been consistently good for me.
- For coconut whipped cream use 1/2 of this recipe, or a store-bought version.