This week’s Ingredient is Chyavanprash, an Ayurvedic tonic with the consistency of a really sticky jam, almost tar-like. I spotted jars of it at my favorite yoga studio and asked Sarah, an Ayurvedic practitioner, for the scoop.
The ingredients in Chyavanprash vary depending on who makes it. I used the Banyan Botanicals variety and it contains 17 ingredients. Some brands contain as many as 80 ingredients. The common ingredient is amalaki fruit, sometimes called amla or Indian gooseberry. This fruit has the highest concentration of Vitamin C of any fruit and is a great antioxidant. Balancing the sour of amalaki is the sweet flavor of ghee and pungent flavors of spices such as cardamom and ashwaganda.
Sarah told me Chyavanprash is usually eaten by the spoonful after breakfast or dinner, not incorporated as an ingredient into a dish. In following Ayurvedic principle, it should not be heated beyond the temperature in a cup of warm water because it contains honey. Honey heated above 108 degrees Fahrenheit turns to a glue-like substance believed to be difficult to digest. So how would I bake with this? As a filling and frosting for cake, of course!
I chose to bake a layer cake free of refined sugar, dairy and eggs with a bit of ginger zing. Between the layers is a filling of Chyavanprash. Topping the cake is a refined sugar-free frosting created with coconut oil and milk, chyavanprash and raw local honey. Although the cake is vegan, Chyavanprash contains ghee so it is not vegan. This cake is very dense and a bit gingerbread-like. While the flavor is unusual, my tasting crew this evening enjoyed it and said they would eat it again!
Ricotta Ginger Cake (refined sugar-free, vegan)
1 cup teff flour
1 cup almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
2 T. flax meal in 1/3 cup hot water (this is an egg replacement, it will be very gooey)
1 cup coconut crystals
1 1/2 cup tofu ricotta (recipe below)
1 stick Earth Balance Vegan Butter-y Stick, melted and cooled to room temp.
2 t. vanilla bean paste
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. fresh grated ginger root
1-9.4 oz. jar Chyavanprash
Combine teff and almond flour with baking powder and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer, add flax meal slurry and coconut crystals. Beat until well incorporated. Add tofu ricotta, melted butter-y stick, vanilla bean paste, lemon juice and grated ginger root. Mix for 2 or 3 minutes until all ingredients have blended together. Slowly add in flour blend, mix on medium for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add 1 cup of batter to each of four 9″ round cake pans, lightly oiled. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. This is a very moist cake, however a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when cake is done. The surface of the cake will also appear dry when it is done, but wet just a couple of minutes prior to being done.
Allow cakes to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Carefully remove each layer onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
Place first layer on cake stand/serving plate. Add a heaping Tablespoon of Chyavanprash to the layer and carefully spread using an offset spatula. Chyavanprash is very thick and challenging to spread, go slow so you don’t damage the surface of your cake. Place the second cake layer on top of the first, repeat. Do this one more time, topping with the fourth layer of cake.
1 12.3 ounce box extra-firm silken tofu
1/4 cup plus 1 T. cashews, ground into a fine powder (I use a coffee bean grinder)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Using a food processor, crumble 3/4 of the box of tofu into the bowl and add the ground cashews. Mix until the texture of a nice buttercream frosting is reached. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining crumbled tofu. This will not be perfectly smooth due to the nuts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
1 T. vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquified
2 T. Chyavanprash
2 T. raw local honey
1/4 cup coconut milk (from a can)
Place all ingredients in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender. This will be a very liquid-y mixture. Put mixture in refrigerator for around 30 minutes before frosting the cake. The longer it is in the refrigerator, the stiffer it will get as the coconut oil re-solidifies.