Being a herbalist I often don’t see much distinction between food and herbs. They all contain the same phytochemicals and can have a therapeutic effect, they are simply used in different ways. Many herbs used in herbal medicine are also considered foods and visa versa, such as oats, nettles, dandelion leaves, artichoke, aniseed, rosemary, turmeric, alfalfa, fennel, ginger, garlic, kelp, tamarind, peppermint and so on. For me, the lines tend to blur between them at times. I delight in pondering the herbal actions of specific foods and exploring the food-like uses and qualities of herbs. And when I’m in the kitchen, this merging of herbs and food can be a lot of fun!
This is a particularly complex cake because I have so many ingredients on stand by in my kitchen, but you can easily leave out the herbs/flowers without any significant change to texture/flavour, and exchange the prunes for more dates, which you will love if you are a sweet tooth. All of the nuts are fairly interchangeable if you have a strong food processor, but keep in mind walnuts are very oily! I store all my herbal teas and nuts in the fridge to ensure freshness and avoid rancidity/mould.
6 pitted medjool dates
1 cup of nuts (see below)
2 pitted prunes (optional)
1/4 cup of chamomile flowers
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until the mix is fairly fine. Then press the mix into the bottom of cup-cake containers or a cake dish. If I’m making cupcakes, I roll the mix into equal sized balls first, pop each one into it’s holder and then press it flat.
I used 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, 1/2 cup of walnuts and 6 brazil nuts. If you love using nuts to make cakes and you eat these cakes daily, brazil nuts should be considered a sometimes food because they are so high in selenium you can easily overdose. The occasional large dose won’t matter but doing it consistently would! Walnuts are amazingly oily, adding a beautiful creaminess and moisture to any layer you include them in, but a little goes a long way. Almonds, macadamias and brazil nuts are much drier.
I often use prunes if I don’t quite have enough dates, or if I need extra moisture but don’t want to add coconut oil. Water isn’t an option with ice-cream cakes because it makes the cakes icy instead of creamy. Prunes only have a mild sweetness compared with dates and they don’t have the same wonderfully sticky ability to bind everything together.
1 cup of cashews
5 pitted medjool dates
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
A splash of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of coconut oil (optional)
Blend the ingredients until the mix is smooth. Spread this layer over the first
I usually use real vanilla pods but it’s been so long since I made a cake my last vanilla pod had dried out and gone hard! The coconut oil in this layer isn’t necessary if you have a good quality food processor. It’s really only there for extra moisture.
4 pitted medjool dates
1 cup of berries
1 cup of cashews
1 teaspoon of rose petals
2 teaspoons of hibiscus petals
Blueberries for decoration
Blend everything except the blueberries in a food processor. I used a mix of frozen berries (strawberry, blueberry and raspberry) and frozen peeled banana. Spread this layer over the last and then ass the blueberries for decoration, pressing them in slightly so they are held by the top layer. Put your cake/cakes in the fridge and freeze overnight. To serve, simply cut and eat. The oils from the nuts stop the cake from feeling cold in your mouth, and it’s best eaten frozen. But if you make a larger cake and you can’t cut through it, simply let it sit on the bench for a few minutes to thaw and try again.