With Eid Al Adha just days away and with family and friends joining together to celebrate this festive occasion, I thought this would be a good time to post a decadent dessert cake with middle eastern flavors. Recently our cosy Words Bookstore and Café hosted a cookbook signing by Sarah Al-Hamad, author of Sun Bread and Sticky Toffee. Sarah gave a talk on how her cookbook evolved with her journey of date discoveries, which all began when eating a sticky toffee pudding. We sampled some delicious tasters, sticky date sponge with toffee sauce and a date and sesame espresso milkshake from her cookbook, which has sweet date recipes from everywhere.
My own date trail began as I looked through the cookbook and pondered over which recipe to make. The pastry made from blended dates and nuts or the “Black and White Delight” that caught my attention! I found myself thinking how luscious this chocolate date cake looked, reminding me of a pint of Guinness, the famous Irish drink which has a very inviting rich dark appearance and a soft creamy head.
The divine flavours of dates, date syrup, chocolate and tahini (sesame paste) are heavenly, with some of the ingredients having healthy nutritional attributes. The tahini and white chocolate sauce (serve warm) can be served separately and poured over the cake when serving or left to cool and thicken slightly before spreading on top of the cake. I did not add the optional 100ml of heavy cream to the sauce when making, as I did not want to dilute the delicious taste of white chocolate with tahini. This ultra rich chocolately date cake can be followed by a serving of arabic coffee, which is light and refreshing to drink… perfect partners for the celebrations ahead.
Recipe adapted from the Sun Bread and Sticky Toffee cookbook.
- 200g stoned dates, chopped
- 200g un-salted butter, cubed
- 350g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons date syrup
- 5 eggs, separated
- 100g light soft brown sugar
- 100g ground almonds, sifted
For the sauce/topping
- 5 tablespoons tahini
- 200g good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
for garnish, extra dark chocolate, grated
You will need a 23cm/9inch springform pan, sides and bottom lined with non stick baking parchment.
How to make: Preheat the oven to 345F/170C/Fan 150C/Gas 4. In a heat proof bowl add the dates, butter, chocolate, and date syrup and place the heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Sir occasionally until chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Place the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and with an electric mixer, beat the ingredients together until pale and creamy. Pour in the cooled chocolate and date mixture, stir together until combined. Stir in the ground almonds.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the beaten egg white into the cake mixture until combined. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool.
To make the sauce/topping: In a heat proof bowl add the white chocolate and tahini, place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water until chocolate has melted, stir to once or twice to combine. The white chocolate tahini sauce can be served separately while still warm and poured generously over each slice of cake when serving. Note: I left the sauce to cool and thicken before spreading over the top of the cake and then garnished the cake with some grated dark chocolate.
The Sun Bread and Sticky Toffee cookbook is available for purchase at Words Bookstore and Café, Bahrain.