The movement of the spoon filled his eyes with wonder, and his mouth opened as wide as possible. Mashed beets surrounded his precious lips like a first attempt at applying lipstick in a moving vehicle. His chubby fingers curled and tightened, and the bright green of a prematurely cut avocado squeezed through the opening of his tiny fist. The enterprising dog waited under the table patiently, hoping for fallen splatters of purée. “Now you’re just playing,” she scolded in jest, pushing the plate beyond his stubby reach.
When I first met The Urban Farmer’s future farmhand, aka his nephew, he was a mere string bean tucked in a pod, living off milk alone. Now he’s a chubby, little, army-crawling sweetpea eating yams, avocados, spinach, pears, apples, beets and even caviar on a very special occasion! Think about that leap, from liquid to colors, textures, and tastes. No wonder we approach food playfully when we are young!
Food is exciting, but eventually, even the most supportive mama has to intervene. Her desire to wear a shirt without spit-up stains or Gerber greens surpasses the amusement of a baby discovering his hands and how they clumsily wrap around this thing called a spoon. On our epic journey from milk to solid foods, there comes a point when the all-knowing adults reprimand, “don’t play with your food.”
I may not have a beet-stained face or squish avocado through my fist, but there is a sense of play I find in baking. A cake is like a blank page, and nature has given us so many ways to color. Why cheat and resort to artificial dyes and sugars? Just looking at a baby’s dinner, I saw so many inspirational hues. His “dessert” was spoonfuls of avocado, which led me to thinking, what other vegetables can we eat for dessert? Sure, there’s carrot cake, but what about carrot frosting?
Now we are playing with our food!
Flourless Chocolate Cardamom Torte with Roasted Carrot Cream Cheese Frosting
About This Recipe: Whipping egg whites into stiff peaks for the cake will take a long time, (i.e.: the length of a classic Bob Dylan folk anthem), but don’t lose heart. Fluffy egg whites make all the difference in this torte. The frosting starts by roasting carrots (follow this recipe but stick to the orange, red & yellow carrots for color purposes). Then simply puree the roasted carrots until smooth. For the frosting application, I used a #32 pastry tip. Have some piping fun, or simply spread with an offset spatula.
Flourless Chocolate Cardamom Torte
11 ounces dark chocolate (Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips)
2/3 cup (10 Tablespoons) salted Irish cream butter, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
6 eggs, separated (organic/cage-free)
1/4 cup organic raw cane sugar
Preheat the oven to 325℉. Line a springform pan with parchment paper and butter generously.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Mix the vanilla, salt, and cardamom into the melted chocolate. Set aside.
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of a mixer, and beat on high until very pale and fluffy, about five minutes.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites on high until they hold stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. Fold carefully into the chocolate mixture.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Roasted Carrot & Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces organic cream cheese, at room temperature
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) organic unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
3/4 cup organic roasted carrot puree (start with this roasted carrot recipe)
1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar
dash of cardamom
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese.
Gradually add butter, and carrot puree. Continue beating until smooth and well blended.
Sift in confectioners’ sugar, and add a dash of cardamom. Continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine. Use an offset spatula to spread on cake, or use a pastry bag to pipe frosting onto cake.