You might never think it, but chocolate and fennel just go together. Chocolate is an all-time favorite of mine. There’s rarely a day that passes in which cacao, in some delicious, delectable, or otherworldly way, isn’t a part of my day. Not much can come between me and chocolate. It’s not an uncommon love affair, but I’m always looking for ways to take my chocolate-covered passions to the next level.
This month on the blog, I’ve been diving deep with fennel, an oftentimes overlooked vegetable. Here in the United States, fennel isn’t a staple ingredient in anything really, nor is it at all a very common vegetable. While it’s not hard to find, as most groceries carry it, I wasn’t really exposed to fennel as a vegetable until my early 20s. How to cut it or cook it isn’t common knowledge, nor is its versatility as both a savory and a sweet vegetable.
I think it helps solve the mystery a bit if you think of fennel as a much more flavorful and delicious celery without the bitter. Same watery crispy crunch, same habit of making stalks tightly nestled into each other, but vastly different flavors, nutrients, and medicinal benefits. Adding this unique vegetable to your desserts is an easy way to not only impress your friends and family with your sophisticated palate, but to also sneak in a lil’ dose of nourishing plant medicine into your sweet indulgences.
the secret ingredient = candied fennel
You can use both candied fennel bulb and seeds to add a double dose of botanical pizazz to your chocolate cake. While the candied fennel bulb is a fun and unique surprise, the candied fennel seeds really take you on a magical flavor ride with each bite. If I had to pick using either candied fennel bulb or seeds, I’d definitely go for the seeds. The characteristic anise-like flavor is more pronounced, plus the added crunch is a nice compliment to the melt-in-your-mouth softness of cake.
Making candied fennel bulb and seeds is easy and takes little more kitchen know-how than knowing how to boil water.
how to add fennel to your chocolate cake
There are many different ways in which you can add candied fennel to your cake. If you need a little more convincing before you’ll brave adding an oddball vegetable to your tried and true chocolate cake, read this to learn all about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of fennel. It’s a vegetable full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and support for health digestion.
Here are a few super easy ways to add fennel to your desserts:
- Rough chop candied fennel bulb and fold into your cake batter prior to baking. (Add 3/4-1 teaspoon powdered fennel seeds for more flavor.)
- Fold minced candied fennel bulb or seeds into your buttercream just before spreading onto your cake.
- Rough chop (or purée!) candied fennel bulb and use as a filling in between layers of cake or for center-filled cupcakes.
- Sprinkle candied fennel seeds on top of your cake or use them to decorate your cupcakes.
Do you have other ideas for incorporating fennel into your desserts? I’d love to hear about them! Drop me a comment below!
Happy botanical baking, y’all!