Vegan Chocolate Cake by Joumana Accad (Photo courtesy Joumana Accad)

Celebrate with a Taste of Beirut’s Vegan Chocolate Cake

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BEIRUT — Born in Beirut, food stylist and blogger Joumana Accad has taught thousands of home cooks about the traditional and legendary cuisine of her native Lebanon. Her extensive travels in her own country have brought her to local villages and towns to learn the customs of the harvest and to make a variety of meals with the area’s homegrown ingredients. Her friendships with many locals have introduced her to a number of the wild herbs and spices grown in the hills and mountains of Lebanon and in other countries.

“I recently made this Vegan Chocolate Cake for a neighbor,” says Joumana. “I told her I would make the cake with tahini and she liked the idea (and loved the cake). I used tahini, grape molasses (to add sweetness), and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I topped the cake with fresh sliced bananas glazed with apricot jelly, but the bananas can be switched to raspberries or strawberries or blueberries, or any fruit to add to this moist chocolate cake. The ingredients yield a small cake 9″ wide, and about 1″ thick. It can easily be doubled for a two-layer cake.”

In her cookbook, Taste of Beirut, Joumana shares her heritage through traditional foods and anecdotes, teaching anyone from newbies to foodies how to master Lebanese cuisine. With over 150 recipes inspired by her Téta (grandmother) in their family’s kitchen, she captures the healthful, extraordinary flavors of the Middle East and makes them easily accessible to home cooks and chefs everywhere. She completed high school in France and moved to the United States in 1979. She is the mother of two grown children and a former school teacher, photographer, pastry chef, caterer and translator.

Joumana Accad in Beirut

Big on fresh, locally-grown seasonal foods, Accad spells out the benefits of Mediterranean cuisine as she weaves narrative and recipe into one on her blog, TasteofBeirut.com. She has published an acclaimed cookbook by the same name wherein she shares her heritage and captures the healthy flavors of the Middle East.

“This full-time occupation is a testament of gratitude to my Téta, Sitt Nabiha (Aftimos) Zabbat, a native of Deir el-Qamar in the Chouf Mountains, who delicately handcrafted the most incredible dishes. I have tried to emulate her while raising my children in the United States with the food of my native country, to give them a taste of my childhood and culture. TasteofBeirut.com is a window into the Eastern Mediterranean, where Lebanese food mingles with Armenian, Syrian, Persian, Iraqi, and Egyptian among a score of other flavors. I personally curate the original content of TasteofBeirut.com as well as style and photograph each and every image,” says Joumana.

Joumana was recently named “One of 11 most popular Lebanese Food Influencers around the world.” She remains active on social media channels, especially on Facebook, and has created several how-to videos on YouTube, such as her Baklava in Ten Minutes video that has attracted over 944,000 views.

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Ingredients:

1 cup 60% chocolate chips, melted in the microwave for one minute, in increments of 30 seconds

2/3 cup tahini, light-colored, stir the jar first and pour

1/2 cup grape molasses (or date or carob molasses)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons orange rind

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla or regular vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour (dip into flour bin, sift later)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Topping:

2 fresh bananas, sliced

1 large lemon, juiced (about 1/3 cup more or less)

1/4 cup apricot jelly or up to 1/3 cup (more or less as needed)

1 tablespoon sliced pistachios (optional)

 

Frosting:

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup powdered sugar

4 tablespoons vegan butter or clarified butter or vegan ghee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Equipment:

1 9” cake pan, greased, floured and lined with parchment paper

1 mixer or food processor or bowl with electric beaters

1 strainer

1 sifter

1 brush to glaze the bananas

 

Serves 6.

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F. In the bowl of a mixer or food processor or a regular bowl (if doing it manually), place the creamed chocolate chips, the grape molasses, tahini, vanilla and orange rind, and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients, previously mixed in a bowl and sifted, and combine until mixed.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake has risen and gone down and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Cool cake.

Make the frosting by mixing the sifted cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vegan butter, vanilla and almond milk. Use enough almond milk to get a creamy but thick cream suitable for frosting.

Frost the cooled cake. Place in the refrigerator to stiffen the frosting and allow for an easier garnish with the bananas or other fruit. When the cake is cool and the frosting is stiff, slice the bananas and place on the cake overlapping the slices. Immediately brush bananas with freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent the oxidation of the bananas. Gently melt the apricot jelly and apply on the bananas.

Refrigerate the cake to set the glaze, then cover the cake to keep it fresh. When ready to serve, place at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Joumana says: “Apricot jelly can be obtained by heating some apricot preserves and straining it once it becomes liquid by removing the fruits. Use the jelly to glaze the bananas and keep the extra glaze in a covered container in the refrigerator. Apple jelly can be substituted for apricot jelly. Grape molasses can be substituted with date molasses or carob molasses or even dark brown sugar. Almond milk can be substituted with oatmeal milk.”

For this recipe and more traditional Lebanese and Middle Eastern recipes, go to: https://www.tasteofbeirut.com/vegan-chocolate-cake/

Also see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7I7-9Amsqk

Watch Joumana’s expert video about making your own manooshe from scratch: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMXcuwWHvAk/

 

ORDER TODAY: Go to: https://www.amazon.com/Taste-Beirut-Delicious-Lebanese-Contemporary/dp/0757317707.

Taste of Beirut is the culmination of years of travel and research by Chef Joumana Accad in Lebanon and really brings the tastes and flavors of that rich, cultural region to her readers. A simple dish such as Dandelion Greens, (called a “salad” in the Middle East) using dandelion greens sautéed in olive oil with onions and garlic, seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juicer and topped with toasted pine nuts is a sweet and delicious appetizer and is enjoyed with wedges of Arabic bread. Accad’s version of Muhammara, or Red Pepper and Walnut Dip, is a show-stopper, calling for roasted red peppers, garlic, walnut, cumin and pomegranate molasses. It also is served with Arabic bread. “I moved back to Lebanon three years ago in order to soak-up the culinary scene and gather all the information I needed for my cookbook. While there I cooked weekly in Beirut with established master cooks, learning tips and techniques to successfully prepare these traditional dishes.”

 

References:

 

https://www.tasteofbeirut.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/tasteofbeirut/videos

https://www.facebook.com/joumanaaccadtob

https://www.instagram.com/taste.of.beirut/

https://www.pinterest.com/tasteofbeirut/

https://www.starchefs.com/cook/press/chef-joumana-accad-publishes-her-first-cookbook-taste-beirut

https://saucemagazine.com/a/45701/by-the-book-joumana-accads-falafel-loaf-with-tarator-sauce

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