Chocolate is a seasonal treat we all indulge in over the Christmas period, and for us at Season’s Eatings in particular, having hosted several parties over the past week, it was something we were practically obliged to over-indulge in.
One of the ways we got ahead with preparations for dinner parties, was with this delicious cake, inspired by an Eric Lanlard recipe with a few tweaks of our own, which proved a definite winner (as people went back for seconds). This is our chocolate, squash and pecan cake, which uses the seasonal vegetable butternut squash to add just a hint of the squash taste as well as keeping the cake extra moist. Combined with the chocolate, nuts and spices, this cake has a really earthy flavours.
For those chocolate fans, don’t worry, this cake is not trying to be healthy with the addition of a vegetable and is most definitely a chocolate cake at heart, simply enhanced with lots of rich flavours.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 125g pecan nuts
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 225g dark chocolate – broken into pieces
- 150g unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 275g muscovado sugar
- 275ml water
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g self-raising flour – sifted
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 100g butternut squash, peeled and grated
- cocoa powder – to dust
- Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.
- In a small bowl mix the pecan nuts with cayenne pepper so that the nuts are coated, then transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until they start to roast i.e. become golden and crunchy. Be careful not to forget about them, else they’ll burn. Leave to cool for a minute or two then roughly chop.
- Once the pecans are cooked, turn the oven down to 170ºC.
- Now that you’ve dealt with the pecans, line a round, spring-form baking tin (we used a 23cm diameter one) with greaseproof paper. If it’s not lined, you do risk a bit of leakage and it’s much, much easier to extract the cake after cooking, so don’t forget this step.
- Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, being careful that the bowl does not touch the water then add the butter and chocolate and melt together and leave to cool off the heat for a few minutes.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and muscovado sugar together until smooth and the mixture is significantly lighter in colour.
- Beat in the chocolate mixture, vanilla extract and water. Fold in the sifted flour and spices and finally fold in the grated butternut squash and chopped pecans. Don’t worry if the mixture appears to be quite a runny – this is normal. The addition of the water helps make a good crumb and ensures there is plenty of moisture in the cake!
- Pour the mixture carefully into the lined cake tin and transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. The earthy aromas of the cake should waft around your kitchen signifying the cake is done, but check by pushing a small skewer (or knife) into the cake and checking it comes out clean.
- Remove the cake the from the oven and leave to cool slightly for 10 – 15 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to thoroughly cool. Finish by dusting the cake with cocoa powder.
- You can enjoy the cake straight away, but fear not, if you don’t manage to polish off the entire thing in one sitting, it will stay comfortably moist for a few days.