Having my cake AND eating it

Cake has not been a thing for me for ages

Well, diabetes does that to you. And I love my cake, and I miss it, although I do concede that my sweet tooth has diminished considerably. I tried baking with artificial sweetener, but the amount required resulted in that, ahem, unfortunate side effect they warn you about on the packet when you eat too much sugar-free anything… Plus it didn’t really taste very good. A bit chemical and one-dimensional. All in all, not worth the effort. So I kept looking and trying. Eventually, I stumbled on this YouTube video.

I made her cake, but it wasn’t quite there yet; the Husband and I both found it a bit…. inoffensive. This is the wrong word, but I can’t find a better one. It was perfectly nice, but to our palates it came over slightly flat. No flavour predominated, and we found it lacked a bit of punch. So I’ve tweaked some of the ingredients to make it reflect our preferences. Also, we have discovered that the flavours develop and become much more interesting the next day, so it’s worth holding off rather than diving straight in.

Instead of sugar or sweetener, this recipe uses date purée. Now, before anyone reads the ingredients list and jumps online to comment about how dates are full of sugar too, I should just point out that they’re low GI, being full of fibre, and also offer several nutritional benefits: significant levels of antioxidants, B6, potassium, iron, manganese and calcium. Which is not, of course, why I was using them, but it helps!

Here we go, then. I bring you Chocolate Date Cake. 200Kcal/836Kj per cupcake. Well, it IS cake…

700g/24oz date purée, made from:
500g/18oz pitted dates, soaked for 1 hour in:-
200ml/8oz boiling water
3 dessertspoons of instant coffee
2 teaspoons of bicarb soda
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon.
Blend all together with stick blender. Should result in 700g/24oz of finished purée
250g/9oz wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
80g/3oz cocoa
5 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extra
250ml/9oz vegetable oil or melted butter

Make the purée. Set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F.
Line two cake tins with baking paper or or two cupcake pans with cupcake cases. I like cupcakes because portion control!
Blend the eggs, vanilla and oil/butter.
Sift together the flour, baking power and cocoa into a large bowl.
To the flour mix, add first the date purée, then the egg mixture. Mix well by hand, then beat either by hand or with a mixer until the last of the flour is absorbed.
Scrape down with a spatula, then spoon into the cupcake cases or lined cake tins. Do not overfill, the mixture rises well.
Place in the centre of the oven and bake: 30-35 mins for cupcakes, 40-45 mins for cake tins. Test with a skewer or toothpick to ensure they are done in the middle. Best left overnight before eating for maximum flavour development.

Makes 24 cupcakes or two layers of chocolate cake.

I won’t be making this often, since even the individual cupcakes are 200 calories each and that just doesn’t work well in a diabetic diet, but for an occasional treat it’s a reasonable compromise. I have frozen half the batch and will wait and see how they survive the process. Bringing out one at a time is a much better way to deal with cake cravings than having a whole batch sitting in a box on the counter, and of course, the fact that they need to be defrosted gives you a chance to tame your snack inner monster!

The Husband would like you to know they work well with ice cream. I wouldn’t know… 😇

43 thoughts on “Having my cake AND eating it

  1. Marty K says:

    I’m a big fan of dates — I’ll bet they added a really complex flavour to the cake. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      The dates and strong coffee together are a brilliant combination. My palate required the cinnamon as well. For myself, I’ll probably add a smidge more of the latter, but I know not everyone’s such a fan. I’m still working on what I could use as a frosting for the cupcakes, and I’m thinking the coffee foam I posted about a while ago, but without any sugar…

  2. This is definitely a go for me. The GF Jaffa Torte was amazing & I loved it but this one seems divine as I love dates.
    Will definitely tell u how I go 🤩

    • katechiconi says:

      If you want to make it GF for Miss A, then use GF SR flour, or half and half with almond meal, with half a teaspoon of extra baking powder. For me, the coffee flavour is essential, to complement the dates.

  3. Far Side says:

    I have heard of applesauce also…glad you could have some cake!

    • katechiconi says:

      I think apple sauce would be a bit ‘wet’ in the volume you’d need to sweeten this particular mixture; dates are more concentrated. But yes, I’ve used apple sauce before.

  4. kymlucas says:

    I bet they’ll freeze well, and that’s the perfect way to make them just a now and then snack!

  5. anne54 says:

    They sound delicious, Kate, as I love dates too. A friend dropped around some muffins on the weekend ~ double chocolate and stout! Defrosted in the microwave, and then eaten with a spoon because they are so melty! Definitely only a very sometimes snack. ☺️

  6. Sounds very good! I am a pie man myself. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  7. Nice Piece of Work says:

    These look bloody fantastic. Unfortunately I too have a sweet tooth – I could eat chocolate three times a day. Such a pity, because doing that means I reach a weight that I’m not happy with. Sigh. I will keep your chocolate date muffin recipe for later – who knows, there may even be an oven in my future one of these days…..

  8. Emmely says:

    This sounds like a good solution to satisfy that cake craving every now and then!

  9. claire93 says:

    trust you to find a way around the cake problem ^^ I’ve been strictly GF for a number of years (can’t have rye, oats, wheat or barley) and have a cupboard full of GF flour options, but rarely bake anymore. Have just got used to doing without the things I can’t have, and no longer bothered about trying to find substitutes.

  10. Thank you! I’ve been experimenting with weird flours and fruit sweetening for years. My kids can attest, a banana-sweetened buckwheat muffin is perfectly lovely if you close your eyes to its appearance. I’ll be printing this recipe out to make it!

  11. craftycreeky says:

    They look very tasty, great idea to put some in the freezer.

  12. Go, Kate, go! A nutritionist once told me that giving things up makes you feel deprived. The answer is finding a good replacement as you have, or are trying to do, here. I’m so happy for you.

  13. I knew you’d find a way to make the best of it!

  14. Going Batty in Wales says:

    Thank you for the recipe Kate. I, too, would find life without cake very hard! I don’t need a recipe that is diabetic or gluten free or whatever but as I regularly bake for gatherings where some people can’t eat ‘normal’ cake it is good to have ways of making something everyone can tuck into – but as you say many of the recipes come out very bland and not really worth the bother!

    • katechiconi says:

      This is definitely not bland, and I reckon it would work pretty well with GF flour too, if you need that. No dairy, either. It makes a large batch, so in your situation I’d probably stash half of them away in the freezer against future need!

  15. tialys says:

    Sounds like a good substitute and the freezing helps put the brakes on a bit too I imagine.

  16. I like this recipe a lot. I never have instant coffee in the house. I may have to borrow some from someone. I do in fact have dates in the house. And I really need to get a grip on my sweet tooth, Maybe have it pulled out completely. 🙂 Sweet or salty. An even divide. Good for finding a reasonable alternative.

    • katechiconi says:

      Just used brewed coffee instead of the instant coffee and water, or two thirds brewed coffee and one third water if you feel that’s too much coffee… I have found the trick of putting most of them in the freezer and therefore not instantly available has worked very well. I’ve only defrosted one since I made them!

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