Hi Friends! It’s Holly!
Can I share a favorite blog with you? One you’ll want to follow if you aren’t already. It’s called Lemon Poppy Cake (lemonpoppycake.com). Thanks to my sister-in-law, who knows Ali, the author of this blog, I have been the lucky recipient of all FIVE of her cookbooks (Thanks, Carrie!). Although she is not a sugar free baker, these books are completely inspiring and are as much fun to read as they are to bake and cook from. Really, order them all! Starting with “When Life Gives You a Chocolate Craving. . .”
Until you get yours in the mail, try this recipe which is inspired by Ali’s Grandma’s Picnic Cake. I have to toot my own horn and say that this is the FIRST recipe I have made with coconut sugar that my husband has really liked. Yep, in our very own homes and families we have major “sugar free critics!”. Not that they hate the taste, rather the fact that we are omitting sugar in the first place. But that did not deter me! I did not let myself waver! As I stood over my sugar bowl with spoon hovering, I resisted the urge and dug deep in the coconut sugar instead, determined that this time I would delight even my toughest critic! (And knowing full well that I had two very willing tiny people to help me polish the cake off should my husband balk at my effort!)
Well, like I said, it was a winner! Husband is happy, two kids are happy, and both will wonder what happened to the cake in the morning. Just kidding. There is a little bit left.
Before we divulge the recipe, I just have to thank Ali for coming up with the most genius and healthy sugar alternative for baked goods I have seen yet. Even though naturally sweet baking was not her intent, it is a brilliant alternative for any kind of recipe!
Alright, are you ready to hear it? Because this really is genius!
Madjool dates+boiling water+baking soda
Dates in a cake make you think of gross Christmas fruit cakes, right? Well, when you prepare the dates this way, they absolutely DISSOLVE in your cake, leaving you with a wonderful sweetening effect and none of the chewy date texture. You must try it to believe it!
Walnut Chocolate Chip Cake
1 cup Madjool Dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups Boiling Water
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
2 cups Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 cup Sugar-free Chocolate Chips
Remove the pit and any little hard caps on the madjool dates. I packed mine fairly tightly into a 1 cup measuring cup to determine I had enough. Boil your water over the stove and when it bubbles, add the dates and 1 teaspoon baking soda and stir. Put aside to cool. You might feel you have to mix a lot to break up the dates, but the baking soda will sufficiently soften them.
With a mixer, combine butter, honey and coconut sugar. Add eggs and whip until fluffy. Add baking soda and salt. Then alternate adding the flour with the dates. DO NOT DISCARD the liquid from the dates. Add that in too. Beat until smooth. There will still be chunks of dates that bake away in the oven.
Butter a 9×13 baking dish and pour in the batter. Top with walnuts and chocolate chips. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes uncovered, and another 20ish minutes covered with foil. The top browns up really fast, so the foil keeps it from browning too much. Keep checking with a toothpick until it comes out ALMOST clean. You don’t want to over bake.
(Sorry for the less than precise baking time. I hope you are not unfortunate enough to have an oven like mine where the temperature is on a dial that is impossible to read. I should have a thermometer to determine what I am baking things at, but I like to sing the “My Pitiful Oven Song” when I bake instead).