Friday, June 16, 2023


When it comes to comfort food, what is the first thought? Something homemade, often modestly served, but with tremendous sense of serenity. The beauty of comfort food does not lie in luxury, complicated dishes, or hours upon hours of preparation. It is often found in the simplest, humblest slice of homemade bread, imperfectly decorated birthday cake, or a combination of flavours that brings back memories.
When I think back to my childhood, what comes to mind are not fancy restaurant meals or anything similar; it is always the crunchiness of a freshly baked loaf of bread, the fragrance of elderflower syrup, and the sound of the manual walnut grinder, securely attached to the end of a wooden table.
To me, walnuts and chocolate will always be the classic when it comes to desserts. It is such an earthy combination of flavours, slightly bitter from the chocolate, but endlessly delicious. Combined with the sticky and sweet date caramel and served with hot coffee, it simply melts on each bite. A real treat in a cake form.
And this little torte does serve as a reminder that not all desserts have to be lavish and intricately decorated to be rich and scrumptious. It is more than enough if they are made with the right ingredients and plenty of love.

For the chocolate brownie base
75 grams plain flour
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
small pinch of salt
120 millilitres boiling water
85 grams light brown sugar
30 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the date caramel filling
300 grams Medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon warm water
60 grams toasted walnuts, very finely ground
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the double chocolate topping
300 millilitres plant-based double cream
150 grams dark chocolate (70%)
100 grams vegan cooking chocolate (45%)
1 tablespoon walnut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Start by making the brownie base. Take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and the boiling water until it dissolves. Let it cool down for a few moments. Line a round cake pan (20 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set it aside. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; pour in the dissolved sugar, oil, vanilla, and the vinegar, and whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap it lightly on the work surface, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 10, or until done. As every over bakes differently, do check it with a toothpick, making sure it stays fudgy, soft, and not dry. If there are just a few moist crumbs on the toothpick, that is fine. Let it cool down in the pan.
To make the date and walnut caramel place the dates into a medium bowl, pour some boiling water over them and let them soak for 10 minutes or so, just to soften up. Drain the dates and add them to a strong blender, along with the vanilla. Let it run until a thick paste is formed. Add in warm water, and blend again. If it looks a bit runny, that is fine. Add in the ground walnuts and let the blender run until a thick and creamy caramel forms.
As soon as the filling is done, remove the brownie base from the cake pan and transfer it to a platter. Close a cake ring around it, and line it with a piece of acetate. Spread the entire filling on top and level and smooth it as much as possible. Place the platter into the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Once the filling is firm and cool to the touch, make the chocolate topping. Chop up both types of chocolate finely, and place them into a large bowl. Heat up the plant double cream until almost boiling, and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two, and start whisking until everything is melted. Add in the walnut butter and the vanilla and blend well. Let it cool down for about 10 minutes.
Take the torte out, pour the topping over it, and return it to the refrigerator for at least 6 more hours. Once ready, remove the cake ring and the acetate, decorate as desired, and serve with hot coffee. Yields 12 servings.