Monday, October 31, 2011
CRANBERRY DAY 3: "DECADENT" CARAMEL-CRANBERRY-PECAN CAKE
Today's Cranberry Fact: "Cranberries are rich in polyphenolic antioxidants which protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. The proanthocyanidins and other compounds inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol while cranberry powder has been observed to decrease the LDL cholesterol levels of animals with elevated blood cholesterol levels. The proanthocyanidins in cranberry and lowbush blueberry are known to inhibit tumor growth." http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/herbs/cranberry.php
Well, we've had our cranberry-laced breakfast, cranberry-studded dinner, and now dessert! This is one of my favorite cakes. Not only is it delicious and easy to make, but it gives you the feeling of being decadent when, really, it's pretty low-fat and it's made from whole wheat pastry flour. How good can it get?
I had a bite or two of a similar cake at a local restaurant a few years ago and the memory lingered. It took me a while to get around to making a vegan version that came "up to scratch" with what I remembered, but I'm happy with this recipe. That particular restaurant still has the cake on its menu, but they've omitted what I would consider the essential caramel sauce and instead drown it in a pile of whipped cream! You can "gild the lily" with a small dollop of vegan whipped topping or non-dairy ice cream if you like, but don't leave out the caramel sauce!
BRYANNA'S “DECADENT” CARAMEL-CRANBERRY-PECAN CAKE
This cake actually isn't that decadent, but it really seems so! This is a great choice when you want something rich, not too sweet, and special, but not chocolate. It can be made either with fresh cranberries or dried cranberries.
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped lightly-toasted pecans
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped (or 2/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water and drained well)
1 cup water
3 Tbs oil
3 Tbs smooth unsweetened applesauce (TIP: Freeze canned or homemade applesauce for baking in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into zipper-lock bags-- each one is 2 tablespoons!)
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 Tbs pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs vegan butter (such as my homemade palm oil-free vegan Buttah)
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup organic vegan creamer (these are made for use in hot coffee, so less likely to curdle in hot liquid)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil an 8" square pan and line the bottom with cooking parchment cut to fit.
Whisk all of the Dry Mix ingredients, except for the pecans and cranberries, together in a medium bowl. Add the pecans and cranberries and mix briefly.
Whisk together the Wet Mix ingredients in another bowl. Pour into the Dry Mix ingredients and stir briefly, just until mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
Cool the cake on a rack.
To make the sauce:
Bring the syrup, brown sugar, Earth Balance and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan and boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the consistency of heavy syrup.
Remove from heat and cool a bit. Heat the creamer just until warm. Whisk into the syrup along with vanilla.
The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, but the sauce should be hot. Cut the cake into 8 triangular servings and drizzle each serving generously with some of the hot sauce. You can also serve this with a scoop of your favorite vanilla non-dairy ice cream, or a little of your favorite non-dairy whipped topping.
Nutrition (per serving): 485.6 calories; 33% calories from fat; 18.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 163.5mg sodium; 368.6mg potassium; 80.5g carbohydrates; 4.9g fiber; 54.1g sugar; 5.4g protein; 10.5 points.