The idea for a quinoa-based recipe came from press articles our webmaster had seen reporting the decline in domestic consumption of quinoa in Bolivia. This suggested to be partly cultural factors (children are more interested in rice and pasta) and also the higher prices of quinoa due to foreign demand. As if to prove my point, the last time I went to buy quinoa at the market, the stall-owner's son (a capable-looking lad of about 12) nearly sold me lentils by mistake. Quinoa at the market costs 18-20Bs per kilo, compared with 7/8 for white rice.
I don't want to encourage you to make up recipes but I have to say that quinoa is a very forgiving (or is that flexible?) ingredient. The quinoa provides the moisture in this rich, delicious (and gluten free) cake. It is a cross between a brownie and a mousse cake rather than a traditional sponge. This cake contains a similar amount of fat and sugar to its conventional cousins but in my opinion is a lot richer on a slice-by-slice basis. It is also very chocolaty. Quinoa and cacao might be superfoods but that doesn't mean you should eat more than you otherwise would.
This cake does not look that pretty (the top will most likely not be smooth) but it is already very rich and I would not recommend icing it. A sprinkling of icing sugar would look beautiful and if you have any seasonal fruits to arrange on top that would be ideal.
This cake is even better the next day. If a chocolate cake lasts longer than a day or two in your house you clearly have a lot more willpower than me!
Before you get any further: YOU NEED A BLENDER to make this cake properly.
Serves 8-10 people (depending on how greedy you are)Ingredients
4 large eggs
2 cups of cooked quinoa (probably around 2/3rds of a cup of raw quinoa)
1 cup of sugar
2 fluid ounces of butter or other fat
200g of unsweetened chocolate/ 100% cacao (I buy solid patties of cacao in the market here)
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
(you can add additional mayan flavourings by way of ¾ teaspoon of allspice and the zest of an orange)
8 inch loose-bottomed tin or spring form pan tin
Oven preheated to gas mark 3 (170 degrees Celsius) Method
Cook the quinoa (check the packet instructions but generally it can be cooked like rice ie rinse it, combine it with two cups of water for each cup of grain, bring it to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 mins. Leave to cool.
Grate/ chop the chocolate into a glass bowl. Add the butter/ fat and put over a pan of simmering water (to make a bain marie*) and gently melt the chocolate and butter together. Take off the heat and leave to cool. (*Bain Marie in American English = double boiler).
Meanwhile put the eggs and sugar in the liquidiser and blend together. Add the baking powder, vanilla essence, mayan flavourings (if using), the cooled but still liquid butter/ chocolate and the cooled quinoa. Blend until smooth (a minute or so).
Pour into greased pan and put in the oven for around 80mins. The finished texture you are aiming for is more of a brownie than a cake and as such the centre should feel firm to the touch and when you put a knife in it should come out almost clean.
Leave the cake in the tin to cool fully.
Dust with icing sugar/ decorate with fruit to serve.Return to the May 2011 BELLA NEWS E-zine