Chocolate Espresso Spelt Cake

Most of my family gathered a few weekends ago to say goodbye to my brother before he went back to college.  I had been itching to try this recipe and thought a night with family might be a good excuse for chocolate cake…not that chocolate cakes needs an excuse.

I called my mom to chat before we drove over to my parents’ house.  I was all, “what are you up to, mom?”  And she said, “baking a cake for tonight.”  Doh.  “Really….what kind?”  “Chocolate!”  Yep, we both made chocolate cakes on the same day for the same 8 people to eat.  I knew right away that I was in trouble.  My mom has never been known for healthy cooking, so if she was making a chocolate cake it was gonna be damn good!  Who would want to eat my psuedo healthy cake when they could have a slab of hers?  Plus, when we got there I noticed she had covered the chocolate cake in a layer of “Little Fudge.”  This stuff is legendary in my house.  My mom will not tell us how to make it, and we used to beg her for it as kids (and adults).  Anything covered in Little Fudge is going to be the bomb!

After dinner we all took a sliver of each cake and dove in to dessert.  Imagine my surprise when everyone told me how much they enjoyed my cake.  Oh, and my family is not one of those “let’s all be nice” kinda families.  We are sarcastic and honest.  If the cake wasn’t good, they would have let me know!  I couldn’t get over how moist and flavorful the cake was.  It did look lonely since it wasn’t topped with little fudge, so I think next time I’ll serve it with whipped cream, but I was impressed with the cake on its own.  I will definitely be making this one again.

Chocolate Espresso Spelt Cake
Adapted from Gourment, October 2005

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for pan
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder plus additional for dusting pan and cake
1 cup boiling-hot water
1 1/2 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups Medjool dates (10 to 12), pitted and coarsely chopped
2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup amber agave nectar
2 large eggs

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using cooking spray or butter, coat a springform pan, then lightly dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

In a medium bowl, stir together boiling water, espresso powder, vanilla, and baking soda.  Add dates and mash lightly with a fork.  Steep until liquid cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and agave nectar together until smooth, 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs in one at a time, and continue mixing on medium-speed until just combined.  Add in date mixture and reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture and continue mixing until just combined.

Pour batter into greased springform pan and smooth top.  Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake on a rack.  Serve cake warm or at room temperature.  Cake slices may be topped with whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar for a little sweetness.  Serves 8-12.

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