For the longest time my only association with millets was in the form of ragi (finger millet) and jowar (sorghum). A couple of years ago my friend Lakshmi who lives in Chennai introduced me to foxtail millet which is also called as 'navane' in Kannada, 'thinai' in Tamil and 'kangi' in Hindi. She highly recommended that I use it as a substitute to rice in pulaos and idli/dosa batters (a great option for diabetics who wish to avoid rice). Since living in Dubai also meant access to such products was limited I decided to hunt for it on my trip to Mangalore. In 2015 July I finally found a whole variety of millets at Desi Utthana, a small store in Mangalore (see notes for details), the focus of which was to popularise organic and locally grown/native grains using sustainable farming methods. I was told that while 'desi' means 'of one's own land/local', 'utthana' means 'to raise/grow/arise from the land'. The store is a very basic one with perhaps more than 200 different products showcased on simple iron shelves. Products ranging from different kinds of honey, herbal teas, jams and spices to organic grains is what you can choose from.
To bring in the New Year and to continue my resolution to make cakes that cater to those with special dietary needs I made this gluten free, 3 layer dessert cake using foxtail millet for the base cake. The eggless chocolate mousse layer is a combination of dark chocolate & orange. The final layer is mildly sweetened whipped cream dusted with cocoa. This was so delicious that it got polished off in minutes when I served it to my cousins. Nobody could tell that the cake layer was millet based. I am very happy that millets can be used in baking too. I will be trying out more recipes using millets and will share them this year.
I wish all my readers a Happy New Year 2017!! Have a safe, happy, promising & fun-filled year ahead! God bless!
Foxtail Millet, Chocolate & Orange Mousse Cake ~ Gluten Free Recipe
Prep time: 30 mins | Chilling time: 4-12 hours | Serves: 8
For the base (cake)
- 100 grams foxtail millet flour * see notes
- 100 grams caster sugar (you may use soft brown sugar for its deep flavour)
- 100 grams butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 200 grams good quality dark chocolate (between 55-70% cocoa solids)
- 450ml whipping cream
- zest of 2 oranges (about 1 teaspoon)
- freshly extracted juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)
- unsweetened cocoa powder to dust
- pared orange rind to decorate
- 1/4-1/2 cup icing sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line the base of a 9" round, loose bottom pan (springform pan) with baking parchment and grease the sides very well with butter (don't miss this step as it can get tricky while serving if the mousse gets stuck to the sides)
2. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter/margarine till fluffy. Add the eggs in two parts beating well between each addition.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and add this mixture to the egg mixture in two parts and fold gently. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or till the cake is firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan. The cake must cool completely before you layer the mousse over it.
4. Place the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan with a little water. Let the water simmer making sure that the water does not touch the base of the bowl. Stir with a clean, dry spoon till the chocolate has melted. Remove and allow to cool.
5. In another bowl place the whipping cream and beat it with an electric beater till you get soft peaks. (To make a design see notes) Transfer the whipped cream into the bowl of melted chocolate and gently fold in till incorporated. Add the orange juice and zest too and mix.
6. Spoon the mixture over the cooled cake and level the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Cover with pan with cling film or foil and refrigerate for 4-5 hours or overnight for best results.
7. Decorate with the pared orange strips if desired before serving. Remove the sides of the tin (use a palate knife dipped in hot water and run it along the sides to loosen it up if required) and serve.
1. Foxtail millet is known as 'kangi' in Hindi, 'thinai' in Tamil & 'navane' in Kannada. If you have no access to ready made flour you can use 100 grams of the grain and dry roast it lightly on a hot skillet. Cool completely before powdering it in a coffee grinder or dry mixer jar of your mixie. For best results sift the ground flour a couple of times and re-grind to achieve a fine powder. If you grind it only once you may end up with gritty flour that won't taste very good in the cake.
2. If you wish to make two layers of the mousse then divide the whipped cream into 3 parts (roughly). To 2/3rds of the portion, add the melted chocolate and to 1/3rd of the portion add approximately 1/4-1/2 cups of icing sugar (begin with 1/4 cup, taste as you go and add more only if required). Now add the chocolate mousse over the cake first and top it up with the plain white whipped cream and smoothen.
3. Desi Uthana in Mangalore is located in the ICICI Bank building above Madhu Bazaar (near the Post office), Hampankatta. They also have stores in Bangalore & Hubli. All details can be found on their website.
4. Foxtail millet is also available at Lulu hypermarket, Karama, Dubai in the section where semolina is available. For those of you living in other countries do check your local Indian store or purchase it online.