Crazy Christmas cake (with chard, beans and coconut)

December 13th 2014

I don’t know if you also have flash-back regarding your past. Well, I had a recurrent one regarding a cake I liked very much when I was a kid. This cake is made with spinach and ricotta, and is typical in Modena. Considering the change in eating pattern of the last 2 years, I had to think about it several times because the cake is sweet even incorporating a vegetable. So, thinking about this matter, I came to conceive this cake, which is definitely the “craziest” cake I ever created! I say crazy because some of the ingredients it is made of are surely ingredients you would not expect in a cake. I am talking about chard and beans! Practically, thinking about the cake of my memory, I replaced spinach with chard and ricotta with white beans. Chard has a nice Christmas color and a kind of sweet taste. White beans, if cooked without salt, have a neutral taste such as ricotta, and a similar consistency if processed. To these ingredients I added shredded coconut, not only for the taste but also to dry up the mixture, and cinnamon, which I couldn’t avoid during this period of the year.

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Moreover with this cake I tried out my fist shortcrust made without eggs, refined flour, dairy and with organic coconut sugar instead of white or brown sugar. And… to my great surprise and satisfaction… it worked!!! It was not extremely simple, I have to admit. When you do this type of things you need especially… faith and you’ll be rewarded :-)! The final icing on the cake made it absolutely irresistible, at least for my children, who wanted to eat it since the moment I finished placing the chocolate on top of it!

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I prepared this cake one week ago. I wanted to bring something special to my grandparents to celebrate Christmas a bit in advance since this year we will celebrate it in Maranello, together with Nonna Rosa, who just had surgery. And, despite the skepticism – especially mine and perhaps of my father in law 🙂 – the relatives liked it! Proof this that the limits are only in our minds, indeed, limits in the kitchen … do not exist!

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Ingredients:

For the “shortcrust”:
200g almond flour
100g rye wholemeal
zest of one lemon
65 ml of olive oil (with a delicate taste)
1 spoon of cinnamon

For the filling:
600g of cooked white beans (without the addition of salt)*
100g organic coconut sugar
100g of shredded coconut
80 ml of coconut cream
2 spoons of cinnamon
zest of one organic orange
one bunch of chard – 250g of already boiled chard

*soak the beans the evening before, throw away the water and cook in plenty of water for approximately 1 and a half hour or until the beans are soft but do not fall apart

For the icing:
30g dark chocolate (min 70%)
2 spoons of coconut cream

Preparation:

.wash the chard and steam them (approximately 20 minutes)
.let them cool down on a colander
.at the same time process the beans adding the coconut cream
.add the coconut sugar, the shredded coconut, the cinnamon and the zest of one orange
.mix everything together and set aside
.start with the preparation of the shortcrust mixing all the dry ingredients and then adding the olive oil

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.form a ball with the dough and roll it between 2 sheets of parchment paper until you obtain a thickness of 4-5 mm
.place delicately the shortcrust on the baking tin; do not panic if it will break: place the broken pieces aside and with a bit of patience start to recompose the borders pressing against the baking tin and making sure they are well compact
.chop the steamed chard and add it to the rest of the mixture
.pour the mixture on the shortcrust, spread evenly and sprinkle with a little almond flour
.cook in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes at 175 degrees
.let it cool down
.in the meantime melt the chocolate in a bain marie, add the coconut cream and mix
.decorate with one spoon the surface of the cake by making stripes perpendicular to each other

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Time 1 hour preparation time, 40 minutes cooking time
Difficulty medium
Prevention and DIANA diet If you want to know more about the diet recommended by Cascina Rosa (National Cancer Institute of Milan) for women who have had breast cancer, click here (only italian). This diet is anyway suitable for all the people who want to adopt a more healthy lifestyle that will help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.
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