This cake is infamous in our house.
Affectionately know as “the cake that blew my Whole30”, it’s earned it’s place at the top of my all time favorite cakes. My husband has already requested it as his next birthday cake. Obviously it’s not for everyone – if you aren’t a tahini lover than it’s probably not a good fit but it if you do love tahini? Welcome to heaven, my friend. We’re talking soft, buttery layers of caramel cake topped with fluffy mounds of lightly sweetened tahini mousse, crunchy maple-candied pecans, and shreds of melt in your mouth halva. It just doesn’t get any better.
Oh wait, it does. I didn’t mention that it’s gluten and grain free, did I? It’s also refined sugar free. The cake is sweetened with coconut palm sugar and the mousse with date syrup. It might have ruined my whole30 but it could have been a lot worse, right?
Perhaps another reason that I adore this cake so very much is because of the way it was inspired.
On a Friday evening this last September in Tel Aviv, I sat in the dining room with an Israeli family, sharing a traditional Shabbat dinner. If you’ve never attended a Shabbat dinner, I suggest you put it on your to-do list. American Thanksgiving dinners have NOTHING on a Shabbat dinner. Shabbat dinner begins the Jewish sabbath and is held on Friday evening to kick off the following day of religious observance. Families gather together to enjoy an abundant meal. As I sat with my fellow colleagues around a long table dressed with glowing candles and a pomegranate-studded pistachio cake, we were served more dishes that we had possibly ever seen in one sitting. From simple beet salads to roast meats, fresh baked breads, stews, vegetables prepared in every way imaginable, and even a hot, broth-y pot of some sort of braised kofta (like a meatball surrounded with a bread-like mixture) that was accidentally spilled down my back as it was being set on the table. Dafi, our poor (and culinarily gifted) host,was mortified. I simply found it amusing. Like I told her then – it makes a great story!
Dinner was magnificent. I could have died happy then. But shorty after, dessert was served. I found it quite unassuming at first – little bowls of a beige mousse. Then I took a bite and discovered one of the best things I had on my entire trip to Israel. Dafi’s husband had made it himself that morning. Cream, tahini, and date syrup, beaten together to form the most sumptuous, rich, nutty, earthy mousse. It was topped with candied pecans and shreds of halva. And it was so good that I’ll never forget it. I’ve been so excited to share it with all of you and I thought this cake would be the perfect way to do so. With that said, it can also be served just as I had it at that glorious dinner, on it’s own. Simple and perfect.
p.s. If you ever find yourself in Israel and want to experience a Shabbat dinner for yourself, or wish to dine in the home of a local family, please give Betzavta a click. They set tourists up with host families so that you can do just that. I spent 8 days in Israel and was given countless wonderful experiences. Of all of the things I did and saw, attending this dinner was one of the absolute highlights of the trip. I learned SO much about the culture, the people, the food, everything! It’s such a fond memory that I hold close to my heart, now that I’m back home (and eating much less vibrant dishes – fewer too, haha!) Thank you Vibe Israel for such a wonderful experience!
- 1½ recipes Paleo Caramel Cake Batter (see above recipe for link)
- 3 cups Heavy Whipping Cream, divided
- ½ cup Tahini
- ½ cup Date Syrup
- ¾ cup Pecan Halves
- ¼ cup Maple Syrup
- ½ cup + Shredded Halva (or classic halva, crumbled)
- In a small bowl, whisk the tahini and date syrup together untill smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour a 9" round (at least 3" deep) baking pan.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven on for the candied pecans.
- Carefully remove cake from pan and place on a plate or serving dish.
- Cover and let cool completely.
- While the cake cools, candy the pecans.
- Place a non-stick mat or sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Place the pecans and maple syrup in a small saute pan. Heat over medium/high, stirring constanty, until all of the syrup has cooked into the pecans - Pan should be relatively dry.
- Spoon the pecans onto the prepared baking sheet and separate the pecans as best you can.
- Place the sheet of pecans in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted. Remove from oven and let cool.
- When cake has fully cooled, make the mousse.
- Place the cold cream in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electic mixer until very stiff peaks form.
- Add the chilled date syrup/tahini mixture to the whipped cream and gently fold in untill fully combined. Spoon the mousse into a piping bag fitted with desired tip(I used a large french tip) and pipe the mousse generously across the top of the cake.
- Top the mousse with the candied pecans and as much shredded halva as you like.
- If not serving immediently, keep chilled unti service.
- Store any remaining cake in an airtight container in the fridge. Willl keep for 3-5 days.