Last week I was chosen to participate in Foodie Fights once again. Being that my first round was less than victorious, I approached this one with a real sense of determination. Thankfully, the food gods smiled upon me and I was given ingredients I felt completely comfortable with: semolina flour and pomegranates. Not that I normally cook with both, but I knew what I wanted to do.
When you think of semolina flour (provided you have even heard of it before) you normally think of pasta. Semolina is finely processed durum wheat. It is also the main ingredient in cous cous. Given that I purchased a pasta machine earlier this summer with great expectations (and it’s still in the box!), pasta would have been the natural way to go. But I had other things in mind…
Some years ago, in my pre-veg days, I had cake at some restaurant I can’t recall. Anyway, it was lovingly made-to-order and semolina flour was a main component of it. The crumb was delicate and light and the cake was phenomenal. Given that I still reflect fondly on that one small cake, it made a big impression on me.
Pomegranates hold a special place in my heart because my father loved them. I remember standing at the counter in the kitchen with him as a little girl, peeling apart chunks of the fruit to unearth the seeds. I was always delighted, when I thought I’d excavated each and every one, to break off another piece of the inner flesh and find more. My father and I did not share an appreciation for food, so these memories of pomegranates are especially dear to me. With the tanginess of the seeds (and the distraction that the large seeds within them can be for consumers) I wanted to balance out the flavor and make the experience a little more pleasing to the palate.
I present to you: Chocolate Semolina Cake with Pomegranate Vanilla Bean Sauce
I made two 4 inch cakes, but this could easily be adapted to an 8 or 9 inch round.
1 cup semolina flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
2 teas. baking powder
1/4 teas. salt
1/3 cup agave
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
2/3 cup milk (I used the new multigrain milk from Trader Joe’s)
2 cups pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp. agave
2 tbsp. water
1/4 teas. cornstarch
1/8 teas. sugar
1 small vanilla bean or 1/4 teas. high quality extract
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and/or line your baking pan(s).
In a large bowl, sift together semolina flour, all-purpose flour, and baking cocoa. Add sugar, baking powder and salt and combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, melted chocolate and agave until well combined. Add milk and whisk. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet, mixing until well combined and there are no large clumps. Spread batter in pan and bake for 22–26 minutes (for small cakes).
While cakes are baking, combine pomegranate seeds, agave and water in a small pot. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until the seeds become soft, about 7 minutes. Mash with a potato masher as best you can. Strain mixture into a bowl with a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the seeds with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and sugar. Return pomegranate mixture to pot along with cornstarch mixture and vanilla. Whisk and cook on medium/high heat to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes than remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Serve cake warm with warm sauce on top and additional pomegranate seeds to garnish.
The cake was moist with a delicate crumb. The chocolate flavor was a subtle combination of cocoa and chocolate, with a gentle sweetness added by the agave. The top of the cake had a light crust to it that added a pleasant mouth-feel. The pomegranate sauce was sweet and slightly tart initially and the the flavor mellowed on the tongue when the vanilla hit. The sauce had a nice enough consistency to absorb into the cake without making it too soft. Jim is a huge lover of cake and he is a self-proclaimed “anti-foodie”, preferring his food to be basic, especially cake. But even he was a sucker for the chocolate and pomegranate combo. I think this cake would make a fantastic holiday cake, as pomegranates really hit their peak season.
Be sure to check out Foodie Fights site tomorrow to see all the entries and to vote on your favorite!
Squirrel’s Vegan KitchenGo back in time to my original blog: Squirrel’s Vegan Kitchen!
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