cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Trick or A Treat? Spicy and Sweet

Spicy Chocolate Black Bean Cakes

Is it a trick? Have I put a rock in Charlie Brown's bucket? Say what!? Perhaps if I said both a trick and a treat you will roll your eyes? Black bean brownie cakes with spicy chocolate. What say you to that! Perhaps it is a little tricky, perhaps it is a little healthy, perhaps I think about cake too much, but i must do something mischievous while sitting on my bum pretending to write a history paper as door-knocking goblins and ghouls solicit me for candy, are you surprised that college bar parties aren't quite my style? Don't worry--I am not offering the them these cakes, perhaps if i did they would throw soap at my windows. So a bucket of sticky sugar pills awaits their arrival by the door. Are you familiar with the American tradition of trick or treating? History links the practice to an evolution of events stretching back to medieval Europe. Yes trick or treating has a history, and while I would love to bestow history lectures upon the monsters at my door in lieu of candy, I think I would prefer to not be kicked in the shins and have a toilet paper and egg-free house in the morning. But you can't kick me from where you are! So on y va.

But first I want to make note on the layout change here at the Salty Cod: we've finally played the Html game and figured out how to import photos as their proper size--all thanks of course to my friend-the fantastically talented photographer/viciously gifted pastry chef Christy down yonder in Aussi-land. Please visit her at 5 Types of Sugar right now. Well after you are done reading my ramblings of course.

So the grand ultimatum: trick or treat. The origins of the American game lie in medieval European pagan traditions for the celebration of All Saint's Day, or All Hallows Day on November 1st, All Souls Day on November 2nd, and All Hallow's Eve on October 31st. On these days, variant traditions of costuming and soliciting food at the doors of strangers in exchange for prayers for the dead arose as, beleive it or not, a Christian practice. Souling, termed in Ireland, was the first trick or treat dating back possibly to the tenth century in which fruits and cakes were asked for in exchange for a prayer. In Ireland the practice of leaving soul cakes out on doorsteps for the departed continues to modern times. Though we must accredit the Scottish tradition as the closest predicate to the American version. In their practice of guising, children went door to door performing poems, dances, or jokes in exchange for a treat--today we get no such vaudeville.

Undoubtedly these souling traditions made their way to the United States on the coat tails of immigrants. The first public mentioning of the term Trick or Treat was in the Oregon Daily Chronicle newspaper in 1934, reporting on pranksters dressed as ghouls and ghosts who in mob racquet fashion, knocked upon doors demanding candied fruits and food stuffs as a treat, or they would trick the poor sap's house by soaping or rocking the windows. Ultimately: which would you rather? Give me a treat or have a trick on you! This practice spread across the country--the cautious home owners began to prepare the evening of October 31st by having sweets on hand, while the more disagreeable old timers were known at a time for keeping the shot gun close by.

Today, trick or treating is harmless--children know nothing of tricks only of treats as they walk the streets dressed as pumpkins and tooth fairies with glowsticks in hand. But the high school age out for those. Now the trick perhaps is up to the candy giver...shall i give you your chocolate bar, or perhaps, like poor Chuck, a gift of a rock.

Now to the subject of black bean chocolate cakes; a trick and a treat in one for this All Hallows Eve; for by their appearance none would guess a deceit, though on the inside they are wheat free, flour free, white powder free black bean cakes--a Salty Cod creation. Chouette! We recently stumbled upon the image of a Japanese red bean cake and thought, well why not black then? Black is our favorite. We are quite fond of black beans, for a few years now we have been cooking them regularly in a fashion not unlike our mental reputation: different every time. Sometimes with cumin, sometimes with cinnamon, sometimes with coconut milk, is there an onion? Perhaps some garlic this time. We have never made black beans the same twice, perhaps that is their charm, you can do anything with them. So why not a cake, a chocolate cake with cayane pepper and chilies.

Beans? Gluten free? Is this some vegan-esque mumbo jumbo? Ab-so-lu-te-ment non. We may not eat gluten, but it does not procure a prejudice against powdery white wheatness; we just happen to like beans and baking with vegetables (are you glad you missed the lemon and beet seed bread? many a taster termed it the beet loaf.) And though beans may sound healthy--there is plenty of sugar within. So a trick, but yet still a treat.

Spicy Chocolate Bean Cakes:
Ingredients: 2 cups cooked black beans ~ 4 eggs ~ 1.5 cups sugar ~ 0.25 cups cocoa powder ~ packet vanilla sugar ~ 1 tsp baking powder ~ one chili pepper ~ .5 tsp cayene pepper or chili powder

method: 1) in a food processor (or magic bullet. hehe) cream beans and pepper. 2) mix absolutely everything else with the beans in a bowl. 3) fill muffin cups, cupcake molds, or an 8x8 brownie pan. 4) cook at 375 for about 15 minutes for the small cakes, 25 for the pan.

spicy vanilla butter cream: 1 stick butter ~ powdered sugar (just wing it, sorry i never measure with frostings or icings) ~ cream/milk ~ vanilla extract ~ cayene pepper or chili powder

will make ten small cupcakes. But to be honest--they taste much better without the frosting. plain and au naturel, but for an aesthetically pleasing photo frosting is a must. so Salty Cod suggestion for second-time improvements: nothing on top, but if a top is a must, then perhaps just a chocolate sauce.

Since for many a caramel and chocolate bar are much more appealing, we will give out our gummy bears and peanut butter cups to the kiddies. But this gamble paid off--and I can eat them! Black beans instead of flour, yes it works, and yes it tastes good--even the white bread loving S.F.A (housemates) were surprised and amazingly pleased by the unexpected ingredient--because it does look like your everyday average daisy jane brownie. Haha! I ahk at them, I put a trick in your treat!

a bientot


Christy said...

Good work on the layout!! It does make your photos appear brighter and better!! YAY!

spicy black bean cake...where do you come up with these things? You should consider a change in career and be a pastry chef!

Christy said...

Oh, and happy Halloween!! It's sad that we don't celebrate this in the down under. Maybe I should move.

Lori said...

Oh, these sound (and look) so great. I have eaten bean brownies before, but never with black beans and peppers. I love chocolate bars with some chile spice so I'm thinking these are a must for my baking list. Thanks!

Helene said...

Great Halloween post! You know I am digging the history loaded post!
The cupcakes are very creative and cute as can be!

Rachel said...


come to brazil and cook for me and i'll take you fun places!

Anonymous said...

I just made these, intentionally omitting the chili pepper and powder. And then I unintentionally omitted the cocoa! (With only 6 ingredients, what idiot could miss one??). I also cut the sugar to 1 cup.

Result: It was still delicious! A little too sweet, probably since there was neither cocoa nor chili to balance out the sugar. Next time I'll put the cocoa in, maybe a little espresso powder, and try 3/4 cups of sugar.

-- Caddie

Núria said...

You are always steps ahead from the rest of us... Awesome post, and fantastic treats! Such beautiful pictures :D Really really beautiful.

I recently learned that cocoa and chili went well together, I must try your treat!

The Fort Henry Gazette said...

html is like learning a new language!
candied treats + Halloween history, love it!

Anonymous said...

I made these with a few modificaitions(different sugar, no peppers). Delish!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for a great and simple recipe.

Iona said...

I really enjoyed your much more fun than just reading a recipe! ;)
I have a friend with kids that I wanted to make a gluten-free, dairy-free treat for, and I loved how easy your recipe was, so I used your recipe as a starting point. The result was too good to be true, so I have to share! After tasting how WOW delicious those were, I can't wait to make your chili flavored ones for ME! (who will appreciate the trick)

Gluten & Dairy Free CHOCOLATE MINT Cupcake variation:

2 cans (3 cups) black beans, drained & rinsed

6 eggs

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda (I was out of bkg. pwdr.)

2 tsp. mint extract

1 tsp. vanilla (I think you could leave the vanilla out & not notice)

Purée beans & eggs. Add & mix rest of ingredients well.
Pour into paper lined cupcake tins & bake @ 375 degrees ~ 20 minutes. Makes 15 cupcakes... Fill pretty close to top: they don't rise too much. (The batter is runny...use a scoop, like a small measuring cup, to fill them.) Make sure to cool completely before frosting & eating. (I was anxious to try...they're not quite as good right out of the oven.)


bit of Shortening (about 1/4 c.)
some of the non-liquid part of a can of coconut milk (use a bit of the liquid, if needed)
cocoa powder
powdered sugar

(Next time I'll try replacing all the shortening with coconut oil)

Use electric mixer to whip together.

I didn't measure...use best judgement, and adjust as needed. I added more salt than I meant too, but in the end I think it tasted better because of it!

The frosting was REALLY good with these mint cupcakes.
I garnished with a mint leaf & single chocolate chip. :)

My picky gluten gobbling family LOVED these & said DEFINITELY make these again. Better than any other cake recipe I've tried...and that's saying a lot!

These are SO moist, rich & chocolatey, and have an awesome cake consistency...would never have guessed they didn't have flour!

Thank you again for the inspiration & sharing your amazing recipe to work with!!!