Speculaas Chocolate Swirl Cream Cake

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The Dutch holiday season begins every November with the arrival of Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus). This bearded old guy arrives on a boat from Spain and hangs around the country for two weeks leaving small gifts in children’s shoes until the real celebration day (his alleged birthday) on December 5th when he leaves the big presents. After that, on December 6th he boards his boat back to Spain, making way for the rest of the celebrations, and just like in most other western countries the excitement continues to build to a frenzy culminating on December 31st. Part of the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition is baking with Speculaas. Speculaas is a mixture of pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg and it is usually added to special nickel size cookies called Pepernoten (pepernuts) as well as larger size cookies, similar to gingerbread cookies which only appear during the Sinterklaas celebration. Speculaas has a wonderful smell and I can understand why any native would become very nostalgic for the magic of childhood just by walking down the street and smelling the aroma coming out of bakeries and supermarkets.

This year I decided to break with tradition and do something else: not bake! Well at least not just yet! The idea of adding Speculaas to something creamy seemed really, really appealing, and combining it with chocolate magical. This cake is sublime and super easy!

Crust

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup dates
a pinch of salt

Filling

2 1/2 cups of soaked cashews
1 2/3 cups of nut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1-1 1/2 tsp speculaas spice (or all spice or cinnamon for the non Dutchies who can’t find this anywhere)
1/4 cup cacao powder

-process all the crust ingredients
-press crust in a cake form and even it out well

-put all the filling ingredients in the blender and blend except for the cacao
-blend very well at high speed until totally creamy
-pour 3/4 of the filling on the prepared crust
-put the cacao powder in the blender with what is rest of the filling and blend well
-pour cacao filling on top of the other filling creating a swirly shape
-shape further with a chopstick or a knife so that the chocolate cream penetrates the speculaas cream
-cover with plastic wrap and freeze for a couple of hours until well set
-sprinkle with cacao nibs

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