Recipe Post: Laddu (Somalian Sesame & Peanut Confection)

These remind me of those crunchy sesame bars packed with sugar & corn syrup that you find in all of the delis of NYC, but these laddu are much easier on your teeth (they are soft with a slight chewiness) and your blood sugar levels, AND they have the added richness of peanut and cardamom.

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These are really my kind of treat. They remind me of those crunchy sesame bars packed with sugar & corn syrup that you find in all of the delis of NYC, but these laddu are much easier on your teeth (they are soft with a slight chewiness) and your blood sugar levels, AND they have the added richness of peanut and cardamom. I adapted the recipe from Xawaash, a Somali food blog written by a couple who now live in Canada.Their recipes and stories are full of lovely details that convey a deep love for their native country.

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I adapted the recipe so that it contains no added sugar and requires no cooking.

Ingredients: 

125 g Sesame Seeds, raw
1/2 tspn Ground Cardamom
125 g Roasted Peanut Butter (unsalted)

200 g Medjool Dates, pits removed

Method:

Toast the sesame seeds and cardamom in a small pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant. Let cool. Grind sesame seeds in food processor (pulsing) until they are a fine powder (do not over-grind, or they will become tahini paste!). Remove from food processor and set aside.

Place peanut butter & dates in the food processor and puree until smooth and homogeneous. Add the ground sesame seeds and pulse just until mixed in.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Place the laddu mixture on top and squeeze into a squared ball. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top, and use a rolling pin to roll the paste into a uniform 1/2-” thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic wrap and cut into desired shapes. The laddu can also be rolled into balls. My first batch came and went within a single day. Enjoy yours while they last!

Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread / Cake (Recipe Post)

Having harvested a bunch of zucchini from my garden two days ago, I had to figure out what to do with all of them. Zucchini bread was the obvious use in the sweet department. Here is the resulting recipe that produced a DELICIOUS cake.

Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread / Cake with teff flour and dates (no refined sugar)
Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread.

Having harvested a bunch of zucchini from my garden two days ago, I had to figure out what to do with all of them. Zucchini bread was the obvious use in the sweet department. I remembered the zucchini cake with crunchy lemon glaze by my former boss, the late pastry chef Gina DePalma. It appears in her 2007 book Dolce Italiano and is available here on David Lebovitz’s site. The cake is full of flavor, with warm spices balanced by tart lemon and a strong undertone of olive oil. My attempts at adapting it yielded a result that was better than I had hoped for. I actually had a kind of breakthrough with this recipe, realizing that in some cases (including this one), it’s better to chop dried fruit and coat/mix it with a gluten-free flour (gluten-free because that way you don’t have to worry about developing the gluten while mixing with the fruit over a long period) than to puree the dried fruit and attempt to work it into a batter. Here is the resulting recipe that produced a DELICIOUS cake:

Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread (Adapted from Gina DePalma’s Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze, Dolce Italiano)

Makes two 6″ round pans.

Ingredients:

180 g All-purpose flour (or your preferred gluten-free flour blend)
2 tspn Cinnamon
1 tspn Ginger
1/2 tspn Nutmeg
1 tspn Salt
1 tspn Baking powder
1/2 tspn Baking soda

3 Eggs, room temperature
250 ml Olive oil
2 tspn Vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon

300 g Zucchini, grated & squeezed to eliminate liquid
135 g Walnuts, toasted and chopped

385 g Medjool dates, chopped
110 g Teff flour

Zucchini, freshly harvested from the garden
Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread.

Process:

To toast the walnuts, place the whole, raw walnuts on a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake at 350°F for 5-8 minutes or until fragrant (once finished, lower the temperature to 325°F for the zucchini bread). Once cooled, finely chop in the food processor. To chop the dates, pulse them in a food processor until they are chopped and just starting to clump (the goal is to chop them as fine as possible without pureeing them into a paste). Toss them into a stand mixer bowl along with the teff flour, and mix with the paddle attachment until the chopped dates are well coated with teff (See below). Set aside.

Chopped Dates and Teff Flour (refined sugar free)
Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread.

Make sure the oven is at 325°F (convection, if you have that option).

Place the first seven ingredients together in a bowl and mix with a whisk until well-combined. Using the stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high with the paddle attachment while SLOWLY adding the olive oil in a THIN stream from a measuring cup. After several minutes, the color should be lighter and the mixture should be the consistency of hollandaise sauce (Think runny mayonnaise). Add the vanilla and lemon zest.

Add the flour-and-spice mixture to the egg mixture, and beat at medium-high speed for 30 seconds to develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the zucchini, walnuts, and date/teff and beat on medium-high speed until well combined (but don’t over-mix). Scrape down the sides and give it a little mix with a rubber spatula, making sure that the batter looks homogeneous.

Evenly distribute the batter between two 6″ round pans and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester (knife, skewer) inserted in the center comes out clean.

Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini bread / cake batter ready to go into the oven. With dates (without refined sugar) and teff flour.
Spiced Olive Oil Zucchini Bread.