The first piece of chocolate quinoa cake I ate was at a fancy restaurant where main course portions were the size of Canada’s largest coins – loonies and toonies. Lunch arrived prettily set on a silent white plate with scribbles of coulis of some sort. You know the stuff – pureed parsnip essence or a reduction of Brussels sprout hearts and maybe a shake of smoked paprika. Way off on the northern hemisphere of the plate a single perfect candied walnut emerged from its shell, like a sailor adrift in the arctic ocean, considering his options as the icy sea begins to crush his vessel. Because food tells a story and the chef wants you to listen to what the food has to say. That kind of place.
Mostly I avoid restaurant desserts because the main course satisfies. But in this case, still hungry, I shared a reasonable sized cake portion with a friend. She was not put off by quinoa as an ingredient. You may know that quinoa polarizes people. They refuse to have anything to do with it as though it is some sort of bacterial plague and all its little quinoa-y seeds will sow contagion in their tummies. Contagion of what, I’m not sure. It’s a slippery slope with quinoa. Next thing you know you’ll be eating barley fritters, drinking macha tea, and harvesting greens from boulevard medians.
Presented humbly with a pointillist’s application of powdered sugar and a clover leaf arrangement of garnet coloured raspberries rising from the surface, the black checkerboard colour startled us. But the cake’s crumb gave off a kind of moonlit shine and beguiled us into taking the first bite. That bite announced that butter had bestowed the seductive glow. Beyond the first nanosecond in my mouth is a memory of chocolate intensity like the first beats of the George Thorogood song “Bad to the Bone”, a kind of stuttering pleasure, a chocolate riff on my tongue.
The taste memory lingered for a few years until I encountered “chocolate quinoa loaf” at our local coffee shop. At less calories than a bran muffin, which did not contain chocolate, I bought a slice to accompany my coffee. It was nirvana redux.
My husband, a never-quinoaer, took a bite. I, of course, lied about the contents. One does this with children to get them to eat their vegetables and recalcitrant adults who deserve punishment. After eating most of my slice, I told him it was gluten free. He blanched and squeaked “What’s in it?” Oh the glee when I declared his nemesis quinoa created this heavenly treat.
I’ve never witnessed a conversion before but my husband’s embracing quinoa is a holy allegiance which I expect he will carry to his grave. In fact, I heard him talking on the phone the other day to his lawyer, something about his last will and testament and quinoa cake.
He found a recipe on line and now this cake makes a regular appearance at home. He encourages you to try it. If you don’t feel the same way he does, you are surely not human.
Here is the sacred recipe. Warning: eat only if you are willing to have your spirit uplifted and your soul surrendered to the divine.
And now go forth. Worship. Become a cakeologist.
1 1/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a rectangular cake pan.
- Blend quinoa, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract together in a blender until smooth.
- Combine sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir quinoa mixture into sugar mixture until batter is well combined. Fold chocolate chips and pecans into batter; pour into the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool cake on a wire rack.
When you take your first bite, consider listening to George Thorogood and think about the cake singing to you –
I broke a thousand hearts
Before I met you
I’ll break a thousand more, baby
Before I am through
I wanna be yours pretty baby
Yours and yours alone