In the Mediterranean and throughout Asia, meals are traditionally finished off with fresh fruit. That’s not to say that sweet, rich desserts don’t exist in these regions. On the contrary, these cuisines offer a scrumptious array of desserts, cakes and pastries that would satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. However, rather than making these a regular part of their everyday meals, they’re regarded as occasional treats and reserved for special occasions and feasts. It’s a healthy food culture that our Western-style diets would do well to embrace.
This chocolate cake is an indulgent treat, but it also contains a number of healthy Asian and Mediterranean foods that you wouldn’t normally think of as cake ingredients.
Probably the most unlikely candidate is miso, fermented bean paste, a staple in Japanese cuisine that’s used in savory dishes like soups, braises and marinades. But miso in desserts? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Sweet dishes are often balanced by a touch of salt, and miso adds a unique depth of flavor and subtle saltiness to this recipe.
This chocolate cake also has an amazingly soft, moist crumb thanks to the addition of two traditional Mediterranean ingredients, Greek yogurt and olive oil. It’s lovely with a dusting of confectioners’ (icing) sugar on top and a dollop of lightly-sweetened yogurt or crème fraîche on the side. Or for something a bit more decadent, we sometimes lightly ice the cake with nutella. The hazelnut flavor has a natural affinity with the slightly nutty flavor of miso.
This cake keeps well in an airtight container for a few days, and can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for a few months, so you can enjoy a small piece occasionally as a treat rather than eating the whole cake in one sitting.
Here’s the recipe.