When Ian Knauer's wife Malaika showed up with 80 pounds of eggplant from their farm, he wondered if, steamed and blended, it could work its way into a chocolate cake. “Applesauce cake was what got me thinking that it could work,” Ian told me. Somehow the moisture from eggplant also makes the cakes incredibly forgiving. Not feeling honey? (Or going vegan?) Use the same amount of regular sugar, maple, or golden syrup (and the classic ground flax egg substitute trick, if eggs are also a no-go). Feeding someone gluten-free? Skip the tablespoon of flour—the batter will look a little wonkier along the way, but it will work. Adapted slightly from The Farm Cooking School (Burgess Lea Press, 2017) by Ian Knauer & Shelley Wiseman. —Genius Recipes
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Ian Knauer’s Chocolate Eggplant Cakes
Vegetable or other neutral oil, for the pan
eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
bittersweet chocolate, broken or chopped into pieces
cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
Whipped cream for serving (Knauer adds a tablespoon or two of maple syrup and a pinch of salt to his)
Heat the oven to 350° F. Brush the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil. Alternatively, line an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly brush the base and sides with vegetable oil.
Place the eggplant in a steamer basket set over boiling water and cook until very tender, about 20 minutes. Combine the hot eggplant and chocolate in a blender and puree until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to warm.
Whisk the honey, cocoa, almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into the cooled eggplant mixture, then whisk in the eggs till smooth.
Pour the batter into the muffin tin cups (about 1/2 cup of batter per cup) or the larger pan and bake until a crust forms around the edges and the entire top is dry but the interior is still moist and jiggly (not liquid or sloshy), about 15 minutes (or about 45 minutes for a larger cake pan). The cakes will puff in the oven but settle as they cool.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the cakes cool until firm but still slightly warm in the pan on a rack. Loosen the sides of each cake with a knife or offset spatula, remove the cakes onto a serving plate, and optionally sprinkle with additional cocoa powder. (If using a larger cake pan, let cool completely in the pan before inverting onto a serving plate.) Serve the cake warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.
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