It's that time of year again. Stinging nettle time. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while should know by now that you can use nettles for all sorts of cooking, baking, and brewing projects to take advantage of their healthful and medicinal benefits (and that's aside from outright medicine making--this year I've been drying and tincturing nettles as well to be able to use year-long). This year I found a new nettle source in the woods that back up to my grandparents' backyard which has more than amply provided me with nettles for many projects.
One such project was a birthday cake for my mama. While my parents have been hearing me talk about nettle concoctions for years now, my Dad has remained hesitant to try them. So, while dreaming what decadence I wanted to bake for the occasion, I was inspired to sneak my favorite ingredient into a chocolate cake as a subtle twist. Nettle flavor is only lightly vegetal, and I knew that the darkness of the chocolate would mask any trace to the unwitting tastebud.
When baking with nettles in the past, I found that the easiest way to integrate them into the batter was to blend them with whatever liquid was going in. The recipe I used for Extreme Chocolate Cake had two liquid components- 1 cup milk, and 1 cup water. For the water, I substituted a cup of coffee and for the milk I used the same amount but blended in about 4 packed cups of raw nettles.
Dry ingredients in the bowl.
Adding my secret green mixture.
Post bake shiny cakes!
For the frosting I had been considering ganache, but decided to keep the theme wild gleans. With the freakishly early warm weather we've been having this year, almost everything has been a month or two ahead of season, including many berries. Mulberries are abundant in Louisville and I've never been one to let abundance go to waste.
I stewed them on the stove for a few minutes and found that this yielded a delicious sweet-sour compote.
Then I mixed in about half a can of coconut milk and a couple teaspoons of honey. The sweet factor was perfect! Very delicate and creamy, not a sugarbuzz frosting. At this point, my concoction was thick, but not spreadable, so I froze it for an hour.
This was the perfect amount of time in which to eat dinner with the birthday girl, Dad, and the grandparents. Mom was sporting a funny tin foil hat they gave her at a restaurant she went to the day before??
Just before serving, I spread the icy-creamy berry mush between the layers and on top of the cake. The final product was a devils food-like moist deliciousness, but not too rich thanks to the fruity frosting. And as for my secret ingredient... I fooled them all!!
My Dad couldn't stop raving about how good it was :D