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Gluten-free Chocolate Quinoa Cake

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See this cake? It’s rich and dense and gluten-free, made with quinoa. I’ve been hearing about the recipe – a unique one in that it’s not made with quinoa flour, which is how I’ve incorporated quinoa into baked goods in the past – it’s made with actual cooked quinoa, whizzed with eggs and sugar in a blender to make a base for the batter. The result? An amazing chocolate cake with better structure than other gluten-free cakes I’ve tried – all thanks to quinoa. How genius is that?

It’s from this new book called Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood. Written by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, it covers all things quinoa – an introduction, a get-to-know-you, and tons of recipes. Far beyond grainy salads, they use quinoa in crazy creative ways – case in point: this chocolate cake.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), treated as a grain but actually the seed of a plant related to spinach and beets, is an ingredient you should get to know if you don’t already. Nutritionally, the biggest thing to note about quinoa is that it contains a complete set of amino acids, making the grain (sorry-seed) a complete protein on its own. In the kitchen, it’s important to remember to rinse quinoa before cooking – not for the same reason you might wash rice, but because it has a bitter coating – a natural insect repellant – that’s not harmful but doesn’t taste great. Rinse it well in a sieve and you’re good to go.

And just look at it. This cake? It tastes every bit as good as it looks. It may just become our new staple cake, gluten-free or not.

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Not only does this cake contain no wheat, it contains no flour – made with cooked quinoa (rather than quinoa flour), it has a dense, moist texture and intense chocolate flavour. Excerpted from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming (Whitecap)

2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until smooth.

Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month. Serves 8-16.

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