I'll let you in on a secret - I hate mixing fruit and "other flavours". To me, I'm totally good with an apple, peach, plum or orange all on its own, mixed berries or chopped pineapple in a bowl and even scooping mango or kiwi out of its skin. But unless it's a piece of my mom's apple pie or squares or a warm slab of banana bread, I generally avoid adding things to it (and don't get me started on fruit salad! That one's a texture thing). Food combining aficionados love me.
That said, my mom and grandma love mixing fruit with stuff, especially chocolate. My mom's favourite stocking stuffer is a Dark Terry's Chocolate Orange, and my grandma's weakness is chocolate-dipped berries and cocoa-banana smoothies. The stylists I bring treats to every time I go for a haircut like anything chocolate, so I always know where to look for inspiration!
A while back I made a good deal of creamy Richer Ricotta after buying a few cartons of half & half on sale on a whim. Around the same time, I came into a basket of mixed blackberries and raspberries which I originally was going to put in a pie... until Mom started mixing a handful of them and a scoop of ricotta with her yoghurt pudding at night. For some reason, that became a "lightbulb" moment for me, and I immediately zipped over onto Pinterest where I knew I had saved a chocolate and berry cake made with ricotta cheese.
A brief scan of Playful Cooking's recipe and a few tweaks later (namely adding whole grains, using Pure Via Granular Stevia for half the sugar and making my version an eggless one), a decadent mixture of ingredients found their way into the oven. While it was baking away, I whipped up some Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting and let it chill while the cake cooled.
Even without frosting, I could tell this cake was going to be a big hit - it was tender and moist without being soggy or dense, had a finely textured crumb speckled with berries and a present but not dominant sweetness. I was surprised that it was tempting even me, given that not only was it a fruity "quad-fecta" (banana, applesauce, blackberries and raspberries) but it was a fruit medley with chocolate and "other stuff"). My mom swiped my trimmings as I was frosting and cutting the cake and declared I was playing favourites by giving it to the girls at the salon and not her!
Fruity Ricotta Chocolate Cake
Makes one 10" springform pan, 16 slices
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¾ cup canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup Pure Via Granular Stevia
2 large bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cup full fat ricotta (ideally homemade)
1/3 cup plain nonfat Greek yoghurt
1/3 cup warm coffee
1 cup fresh or frozen berries (I used local blackberries and raspberries)