So guess what? The results of Robin Robertson’s Couscous Cake contest are in and my recipe was awarded 3rd place! You have no idea how cool that is! Once you see all the other amazing submissions that she received, you’ll realize just what an honor it is to have been chosen for 3rd place… by a panel of judges no less! To see the other winners and rest of the top contenders along with their creative & delicious creations, please click on over to Robin’s Vegan Planet website. What follows is my submission for the contest… enjoy!
Apple Pie Couscous Cake (vegan)
1 cup drained silken tofu
1 cup baked apples *
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup instant couscous
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup cream cheese (Tofutti)
1/2 cup light coconut milk
Ok, first things first. I am not a cook. Nor am I a baker or a dessert maker (or a candlestick maker for that matter). I’ve never baked an apple pie before. In fact, I’ve never baked any sort of pie. Or cake. That said, and having already successfully tried my hand at Robin’s no-bake Pumpkin Rum Couscous Cake (minus the rum), I thought I could probably pull off my idea for an apple pie inspired couscous cake for this contest. Here’s what I came up with, along with very helpful suggestions along the way from my mom (someone who actually does know how to cook).
* The first step was to bake the apples. I roughly chopped 3 large green Granny Smith apples and placed them into a baking dish along with 1/2 cup of butter (Earth Balance), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. This was put into a pre-heated 350 degree oven. After 10 minutes I took it out to stir and realized now that the butter was melted that I’d used too much of it (1/4 cup should be more than enough). I wanted the apples and sugar to caramelize and that wasn’t going to happen with all this liquid, so I spooned out quite a bit of the butter, then put it back in for another 30 minutes (stirring every 10).
Next, I made the couscous mix as called for in Robin’s original recipe: In a medium sized sauce pan, combine apple juice, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and pinch of salt, bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in the couscous. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes.
While the couscous did it’s thing, I made the tofu mixture. Into the blender went 1 cup silken tofu, 1 cup of the baked apples, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. This was blended until smooth yet still slightly chunk with soft apple pieces.
Once the couscous was ready I transferred it to a large bowl and combined with the tofu and apple mix until well blended. This was then spread into a lightly oiled 9″ spring form pan, pressed in firmly and evenly. The rest of the baked apples were then spread on top of the cake. This was placed into the refrigerator and chilled overnight.
The next day I made the delicious frosting. I was going for a cashew cream sauce that I was going to pour along the top of the cake and have run down the sides, but what I came up with instead was a much thicker sort of topping which ended up even tastier than I’d imagined it would.
Into the food processor first went the cashews and dates, processed until the nuts were chopped and the dates in pieces. I then added in the cream cheese and coconut milk and processed until it reached a creamy, pasty consistency.
I then applied the frosting to the cake while it was still in the spring form pan. I spooned it on around the apples in the center, using my fingers to get it on firmly and evenly. I was afraid that the frosting would pull away when I took the sides off the pan, but thankfully it did not. I was also pleased and relieved that the cake did not fall apart :)
I then decorated the cake with a more cashew nuts and frosting.
It was really good! I was pleasantly surprised that it worked as well as it did. It was actually quite tasty and pretty close to how I’d envisioned it in my mind. Not exactly, but pretty close. I think it could have done with a bit more sugar and cinnamon, and my mom concurred. Mostly I think it’s the idea that’s a winner, if not the execution.
I think this concept of the apple pie couscous cake is a really good one, and in the hands of a real cook who already knows how to bake a mean apple pie… well, that person could adjust the flavors like a pro and probably make something incredible out of this. It sure was fun to try and make it though… and even more fun to eat it!
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