The humble chickpea, is one old middle eastern legume. 7500 years old infact, and has been traveling the world for a great portion of that time under different pseudonyms. Chana, Besan, Chickpea, Garbonzo, Ceci, Kabuli, to name but a few.
But it is not chickpeas in their most recognisable state that has stolen my heart, Besan flour, the sandy free flowing powder that is the product of milling slightly roasted dried chickpeas is.
Nutritionally as a flour it’s amazing. High in protein with almost half your recommended daily value from 1 cup, high in fiber again almost half, it delivers over the recommended d.v. of folate (great for pregnant mums and anyone with low blood platelet count) and gives you 1/4 of your iron all from 1 cup of the flour. Why is it so healthy? There is no refinement process to mill besan flour, just pure straight grinding up of dried chickpeas, which means that all the nutrition is retained and it is naturally Gluten Free. Culinary wise this is fantastic, protein is a an important component in flour to help with binding and structure. Besan Flour whilst raw does have a bitter nut flavour, however the bitterness disappears once the flour has been dry roasted or cooked off.
Traditionally Besan Flour has been associated with primarily an Indian cuisine, but it can go so much further than pakora or a curry.
- Ground Roasted to make a coffee substitute. This was done a lot during ww2 but to my knowledge it is still practiced in areas of Europe.
- Used as an egg replacement. 1/4 cup of water and 3 tbsp flour mixed to a paste will replace 1 whole egg.
- Can be mixed with yoghurt to make a face exfoliant.
- Use instead of regular flour in chickpea fritters to enhance flavour
- Use as a crumb batter to coat fish pieces.
For me, Besan is important in my culinary kitchen. I use it a lot and contrary to it’s traditional usage, I use it in desserts. It forms the much important structure in most of my biscuit recipes, is fantastic when used in heavy cake mixes with big flavours (like the one that follows) and adds extra nutritional value. I believe that every kitchen whether gluten free or not should have some sitting in their pantry.
Luckily availability of the flour is becoming more common, most major supermarkets stock it, health food shops, online (of course), but I have found that your best and cheapest bet is to hunt down a Middle Eastern or Indian grocers.
And now for cake…………
This cake is rich, it’s delicious and it’s made from besan flour.
Chocolate Mud Cake
250g Butter in cubes
1 1/2 cup Caster Sugar
200g Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp Coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 cup Boiling Water
1 shot of coffee (or a little extra water or some Liqueur, Irish cream perhaps)
2 cups Besan Flour
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Dark Chocolate (the best you can buy)
1 1/2 cup Cream
1 tbsp Date Syrup (or golden syrup)
3 tbsp Icing sugar sifted
25g Macadamia Nuts
71/2 cup Caster Sugar
For the chocolate Cake: Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 9″ springform cake tin.
In a heat proof bowl combine, butter, sugar, chocolate, coconut oil, water and coffee. Heat in the microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the butter has melted.
Stir the ingredients until it it all comes together.
In a separate bowl combine the besan flour, cocoa powder and the baking powder and give a light whisk to evenly disperse ingredients. (If the besan has some lumps feel free to sift it, but just for the record I never do at home)
make a well in the dry ingredients, pour 1/3 of the wet mix in and stir until combined, then add the remaining wet ingredients in 2 batches stirring to combine after each addition.
Add the eggs to the batter and stir until just mixed in.
Pour into lined baking tin and place in the preheated oven.
Bake for approx 1 hour or until the top of the cake it a slightly bouncy. If you do the skewer test the cake should still be a little sticky but cooked.
Leave in the tin to cool slightly then remove and cool to room temperature before wrapping and placing in the fridge. Leave for at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the Ganache: Place chocolate in a bowl.
Pour the cream into a heat proof jug and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes or until boiling.
Pour hot cream over the chocolate but do not stir. Add the date syrup and let sit for 3 minutes.
Now stir the mix until it come together and is fully combined and glossy.
Divide the mix 3/4 (whipping ganache) to 1/4 (pouring ganache).
Leave to cool.
Once cool Whip the 3/4 ganache until soft peaks form.
Chantilly Cream: Place the cream and the icing sugar into a bowl and whisk with hand mixer until soft peaks.
For Candied Nuts: In a non stick frying pan place the sugar and 1/4 cup water stir to combine.
Place over a medium low heat until sugar appears to have dissolved.
Turn up the heat to medium and cook until there is a slight amber tinge. Add the nuts and keep on heat until a slightly deeper colour (1 min approx) remove from heat and using 2 forks remove the nuts and place on silicone paper that has been lightly greased.
Allow to cool completely.
To serve: Cut the cold cake in 2. then allow to come to room temperature.
Spread the whipped ganache onto one half. Then spread out the chantilly cream. Place the other half of the cake on top pressing slightly.
Heat the pouring ganache a little in the micro wave in 20sec bursts until a little runny but not hot. Pour this ganache over the top of the cake spreading if needed. Let it drip down the sides a little.
Top with the candied nuts.
Serve and enjoy………
And the Notes:
Feel free to eat the cake straight from the oven (a more pudding cake) or allow to cool to room temp and eat as is with ice cream.
The cake needs to be chilled to easily cut into 2 and to ganache. (trust me it is 1 million times easier if the cake is at fridge temp.)
This Mud Cake is excellent to make days ahead without any compromise on flavour or texture. It is also excellent to freeze. Just make sure the cake is well wrapped so there is no flavour transfer.
Do you use besan flour? Let me know your favourite way in the comments.