Chocolate Beer Cakes

½ cup unsalted cashews
2 medium apples, peeled and diced
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup flax meal
1/3 cocoa powder
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne or chili powder (optional but highly recommended)
2 eggs
1 cup dark beer, preferably stout
¼ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup diced dried apples (optional)
4 oz chopped dark chocolate or a little more than ½ cup dark chocolate chips
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
Raspberries or berry of choice

Place cashews in a bowl, cover with water and soak for at least 2 hours. In a small saucepan, simmer apples, cinnamon and cardamom over low heat until apples are very tender, 15-20 minutes. Mash apples with a potato masher or fork.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine flour, flax, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne if using. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Stir in beer, oil, vanilla and applesauce. Gently pour wet ingredients over flour mixture and stir just until all the flour is incorporated. Stir in dried apples. Divide batter among 12 muffin greased or paper lined muffin cups and cook for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

While muffins are cooking, place cashews in a blender and add just enough water to cover them. Process until smooth. In a small saucepan, combine cashew cream, chocolate and maple syrup. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring often.

Serve cakes topped with cashew ganache and raspberries.