Dessert with an Ayurvedic Angle

A while back I met Navaz Nooshin of Welmor Enterprises. Navaz imports Sweet Wellness Organic Jaggery from India. She gave me a couple different jaggery products to try and I am pleased to be sharing my discovery here with you. Navaz is passionate about educating people on the health benefits of Jaggery, which is basically a sugar cane product that has been around for centuries. Jaggery is made from organic unrefined sugarcane juice. The juice after extraction and removal of external impurities is slowly cooked on a low flame until it reaches a soft pulpy caramel consistency. It hence retains all the vitamins, minerals and fiber. In addition, all the polyphenols and flavonoids are kept intact giving jaggery its medicinal properties. And it is known for having ayurvedic benefits as well. So for me, if you are going to have some sugar, why not get a minimally processed and more nutritious version? The consistency and color of jaggery may take some getting used to. It does not grind down the same way refined sugars do. It is very moist, and even the “powder” that I received from Navaz was more like little moist morsels of sugary goodness. Navaz explains that the consistency can vary, and that was just the condition of the jaggery I received. I didn’t let anything about the consistency stop me from exploring this new sweet pal in my kitchen. I have enjoyed it a lot in warm almond milk beverages, tried using it in a mango chutney, and have sweetened a cup of tea or two, all with some success. But I really wanted to bake something with it. After giving it some time and keeping my imagination open, I found a terrific role for the jaggery powder that couldn’t have been more perfect. In this healthier version of a classic comfort cake, the jaggery contributes to a perfect, caramelized pineapple topping, but with some added nutrition! I look forward to exploring this healthy sweetener more and keeping you posted along the way.

jaggery caramelized pineapple upside down cake with macadamia cream

FOR THE CAKE:
2-3 T melted coconut oil
1/3 cup organic jaggery powder
1 16-oz. bag frozen pineapple chunks, or about 1 1/3 cups fresh pineapple cut up.
1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose baking mix (I used Montana Gluten Free)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter
3/4 cup almond milk
2 eggs (or use flax eggs to keep it vegan)
1 T vanilla extract

FOR THE MACADAMIA CREAM:
¾ c. macadamia nuts, soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained
1/4-1/2 c. filtered water
2 tbsp. pure agave nectar
Splash of vanilla extract

jaggery and cake

Preheat oven to 350. Pour the melted coconut oil in the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Brush a little oil up the sides of the pan as well. Sprinkle the jaggery powder around the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle the pineapple chunks evenly so that they evenly cover the bottom of the pan.
In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside. In the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer or another bowl, cream together the softened vegan butter and coconut sugar. Then add the vanilla, almond milk and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Spread the batter into the pan on top of the pineapple layer. Make sure it is smooth and even.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the cake pan and flip the entire pan and plate over to invert the cake. You may need to tap the bottom of the cake pan until the cake comes loose and settles into the plate. Remove the pan and what should be revealed is a beautiful cake with a caramelized pineapple topping.

To make the macadamia nut cream, blend all the ingredients in a blender, starting with 1/4 cup of water, then adding only enough water to make it blend into a Chantilly cream consistency. It may take several minutes to break down the fibrous macadamia nuts into a creamy consistency. Serve immediately over the cake with some fresh fruit and-or berries.

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