White Chocolate Christmas Cake. Sounds a little naughty right? But don't let this sweet-tinged title fool you - this cake is one round (or square if that's how you roll) specimen of plant-based, whole foods, health-loving goodness. I wanted to make some sort of Christmas cake for another festive do we've got this weekend. However this year (as always) I thought I'd do something a bit different, so decided to create a raw version of my regular baked recipe. The result is incredibly simple to make, and only requires a good food processor or blender (such as a Vitamix) and cake tin, with no bake time at all. The mixture firms up perfectly in the fridge and the white chocolate icing is to die for - in fact you'd never even know it's 'raw'. After numerous devoured slices my partner and I have agreed this beauty is even more delicious than a regular cooked version.
This simple recipe combines many of the ingredients you'd expect to see in a traditional christmas cake, such as raisins, sultanas, dates, currants, almonds, orange juice and rind, lemon rind, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. But I've swapped the white flour for a raw nut and coconut blend, the cow's butter for a dash of coconut oil (although not much is needed to hold this together), and omitted the eggs, glacé cherries, crystallised ginger and sugar completely.
I've also replaced the retro-70's glace cherries, mixed peel and crystallised ginger with figs and apricots because they're some of my favourite dried fruits. I also went a bit more intense on the vanilla and cinnamon, with a little less emphasis on the ginger/cloves/nutmeg, because I often think the whole mixed spice vibe can overpower regular Christmas cakes. Plus vanilla and cinnamon is just such a lovely combo, and makes the whole cake much more delicate and light rather than heavy or overly spiced.
To top it off? The most heavenly white chocolate icing. "But isn't white chocolate full of dairy?" my partner questioned. Have no fear dear friends, this white chocolate concoction has been freed of it's dairy and refined-sugar shackles, and is nothing but plant-based goodness. It's so seriously delicious, you could use it on a number of other cakes raw or baked, and the smooth creaminess beautifully offsets the rich fruitiness of the cake.
With so many delicious and nutrient-packed ingredients in this cake, it was hard to know where to start in terms of talking about their nutritional and health benefits. So I've picked a few of my favourites to focus on:
Figs are a delicious fruit, not often available fresh, but plentiful in the dried variety. They are one of the most alkalising foods available, meaning they lower the acidity in the body which can otherwise harbour disease such as cancer, autoimmune and heart disease. They're also brilliant for balancing our otherwise rather acidic diet (meat, dairy, coffee, alcohol, refined foods = all highly acidic). As with all fruits, they make a wonderful substitute for refined sugars to satisfy your sweet tooth and for good quality energy. Dried figs are also very high in fiber, calcium, iron and magnesium. If you can get your hands on fresh figs when they're in season definitely give them a go - they are beautifully soft and sweet, with crunchy seeds in the middle - divine on their own, in a fruit salad, on muesli or porridge, in a rocket/arugula salad with walnuts, or on top of a sweet tart.
Cinnamon, meanwhile, is an incredible wee spice, and one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world. It has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of antioxidant capacity) of 131,420 μ mol TE/100g, 28 times the amount in blueberries at 4,669 μ mol TE/100g. Of course you're unlikely to eat 100g of cinnamon in one go, but a few teaspoons here and there will certainly increase your antioxidant protective benefits which can prevent aging and disease. On the nutrient front, cinnamon is high in calcium and iron, and along with ginger, cloves and nutmeg, helps with digestion particularly when combined with sweet foods. Cinnamon also has warming and drying qualities, which can offset potential yeast overgrowth which can occur for some people.
Back to our cake, you can happily make it a day or two before Christmas day, and just decorate with fresh berries, cherries, edible flowers or mint on the morning of the big day. In fact the flavours consolidate with a day or two's rest, so I'd actually recommend making it in advance (plus this is sure to reduce your stress levels Christmas morn). Keep it in the fridge, then top with your garnish in the morning, and place back in the fridge until just before you serve - that way the icing stays nice and firm.
If fresh berries and cherries aren't in season where you are, you could also top it with a dried mix of goji berries, dried cranberries, almonds or pumpkin seeds, still in keeping with that classic red and green Christmas combo. I decorated mine with fresh pineapple sage that I picked from our local Kelmarna organic gardens, which smells amazing and has a lovely red edible flower and green leaf. You can then keep your cake for up to a week in the fridge in a sealed container, or slice and freeze individual pieces for later.
So come join me this week, and have a go at making this little-bit-different cake this Christmas. I think it might just become your new yuletide favourite. And if you'd like to share your festive creations on Instagram, tag @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can come on over and say hello. Meanwhile have a wonderful Christmas, I hope you have a truly relaxing and fun-filled day with family and friends, and take the time to reflect and appreciate all the amazing things we can be grateful for this year. I know I'll be reminding myself to do just that.
PS If you're NZ-based you can still order all the ingredients for this cake from our online store before Monday midday, and we'll get them couriered to you before Christmas day. Easy.
Serves 8-12 people (makes a 19cm cake)
All of the highlighted items below can be ordered directly from our online store, simply click each ingredient link then add them to your cart
Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible
*Use soaked, dried activated nuts if you have them
**You can alternatively use 1 1/2 tsp of mixed spice instead of the ginger, clove and nutmeg.
1/2 c dried figs
1/2c dried apricots
1/2 c medjoul dates
1 c dried fruit (I used 1/3 c each of raisins, sultanas and currants)
1 orange (juice, flesh and zest)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil (softened)
1-2 tbsp coconut nectar (depending on your sweet preference)
White Chocolate Icing
1c raw cashews (soaked 2-3 hours, drained & rinsed)
1/3 c water
1/3 c cacao butter (melted)
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil (melted)
2 tbsp coconut nectar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
Fresh cherries, blueberries and edible flowers or mint leaves to garnish
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon
Healing With Wholefoods (Pitchford, P.)
USDA Nutritional Database
These deliciously dark and mysterious tarts are just a little bit special, with a secret ingredient. Modestly sweet, with an earthy, nutty flavour- a lovely change from the usual fruity/chocolate affairs - give them a go, and fall in love!
These light and fruity muffins use one of my favourite fruits – feijoas! If you’re a feijoa fan you’ll love these (and if not, come to NZ to try them). Best of all, they have no added sugar – just the natural sweetness of feijoas, coconut, dates, and vanilla.