Chocolate Overload Cake

Chocolate Overload Cake

I had a super cool Valentine’s day cake planned for you this year. Truly I did. It looked really beautiful in my head, but in real life, it was a fail. Twice. And by fail, I mean it involved me huddled in the corner of my kitchen with flour covered yoga pants and frosting in my hair. So I ended up totally bah-humbugging my V-Day dessert this year because I just needed to few days to regroup before bringing you a new version of this cake and sharing some final thoughts on my month long vegan challenge. And it’s just in time for my birthday!

Chocolate Overload Cake
Chocolate Overload Cake
Chocolate Overload Cake
Chocolate Overload Cake

Even though I completed my vegan month last week, I still find myself eating mostly vegan because I’ve noticed that I just feel better, lighter, and more energetic. I almost wish this weren’t true so I could just go back to eating a crap ton of cheese and butter. While I’m not ready to switch to a completely vegan lifestyle, this challenge has definitely changed the way I think about food in terms of health, environmental impact, and animal welfare issues. Essentially, I’m just trying to sneak more chocolate into my diet while pretending to save the world. But really, I do want to continue to eat mostly vegan, perhaps by way of the “vegan before 6″ diet or maybe be a weekday vegan. I’m not sure yet, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have tried anything similar.

The funny thing is that I grew up eating mostly vegan food, but I just never noticed it. My parents are from a part of India where meat or eggs just aren’t a part of the menu. The only time I noticed it was when I wanted to bake cakes for friends or relatives and I felt at a loss without eggs.

Since then, I think I’ve tried every recipe for vegan and/or eggless chocolate cake out there, and the one from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is always what I go back to. You can use soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk, and it works equally well with natural or Dutch process cocoa powder. I’ve even tried replacing 1/2 cup of the milk with espresso or coffee and I like it even better. I wish that my teenage self had this recipe when trying to make birthday cakes for my grandmother, because it would have saved my family from eating the glue like substance that came out of the oven and pretending to enjoy it for many years.

This recipe makes a 3 layer 6-inch cake, but if you’re not into tall cakes, the PPK recipe makes a 1 layer 8-inch cake. The frosting is made out of coconut cream, which I found at Trader Joe’s (and is a available at most asian grocery stores). You get twice as much cream as a can of regular coconut milk and don’t have to worry about the cream and the water not separating properly. If you can’t find coconut cream, you can use 2 cans of full fat coconut milk and get about the same amount of hardened cream after you refrigerate it for 24 hours.

I have a way of overcomplicating cakes by adding a lot of stuff (hence the overload), but you can simplify it by spreading the frosting in between the layers and serving it without the ganache, mix-ins, or chocolate curls and it would still be delicious. That was my original plan, but then I went crazy with chocolate because eeets mah birthday!

Chocolate Overload Cake

Yield: One 3 layer 6-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (200 grams) unbleached granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil, grape seed oil, or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder (regular or Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut cream, refrigerated overnight
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process (or natural) cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • Optional mix-ins: 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and/or cacao nibs
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup, 120 ml)) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  • For the Chocolate Curls:
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable shortening

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
  4. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until foamy.
  5. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and cool completely before frosting.
  10. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  11. Open the can of coconut cream and pour off any water that has separated from the cream.
  12. Put the hardened coconut cream in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  13. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat to combine.
  14. Add the melted chocolate and beat until combined (don't over mix).
  15. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  16. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  17. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until it is just about to boil.
  18. Pour the heated coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and let stand for a few minutes.
  19. Add the maple syrup and whisk until smooth.
  20. You can omit the maple syrup. It just gives the ganache a shiny look (which you can't tell from the picture because the cake was just taken out of the fridge).
  21. For the Chocolate Curls:
  22. In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 30 second intervals on 50 percent power.
  23. Stir in between each interval until smooth.
  24. Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture into a thin, even layer onto a cookie sheet.
  25. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until the chocolate has set.
  26. Remove the cookie sheet from the refrigerator and use the end of a spatula and push the chocolate away from you to form the curls. If the chocolate flakes, it's too hard and will need to sit at room temperature for a minute or two before you start curling. If it comes off the cookie sheet easily and doesn't curl, it's too soft and will need to set in the fridge longer.
  27. Refrigerate the curls until you are ready to use them.
  28. To Assemble the Cake:
  29. If you plan to frost the outside of the cake, set aside about 1/4 of the frosting for the outside of the cake and mix the chocolate chips and cacao nibs into the remainder of the frosting.
  30. Place the one layer of the cake on a 6-inch cake board.
  31. Spread 1/2 of the frosting onto the first layer.
  32. Do the same with the second layer.
  33. Place the 3rd layer on top and use the frosting that you set aside to lightly frost the top and sides of the cake.
  34. Let the chocolate glaze cool slightly and pour in slowly over the top of the cake until it starts to drip down the sides. You may not use all of it depending on how much coverage you want.
  35. Place the chocolate curls on top of the cake.
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Chocolate cake recipe adapted from ppk.com and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Double Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie for Two

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

One of my unofficial goals for January was to post recipes more regularly. I was going to blabber more frequently about being vegan and just stay on top of all things blog related. But then life happened, I tested out several cookie recipes and accidentally left some out on the counter, and my dog got a hold of them. A few sleepless nights, several trips to the vet, and a few gallons of carpet cleaner later, I’m happy to report that my dog is okay. Even though I’m failing on the posting regularly goal, at least I’m still vegan (which is the longest I’ve followed any diet ever!) and I came up with a pretty darn good cookie. Word of caution: keep far far away from dogs.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I made you a skillet cookie just for two, because nothing says I love you like a gooey chocolate cookie. The texture is actually a cross between a brownie and a cookie that’s and filled with more melty chocolate chips. Essentially, it’s chocolate heaven. If you’re single, no worries. I could easily polish this off in one sitting by myself, and I won’t judge you if you do too.

This recipe is really simple to make – one bowl, dump and stir, and no mixer required! I tested the cookies with both tapioca flour and cornstarch, and liked the texture that the tapioca flour produced. However, I know it’s not as readily available, so you can sub cornstarch. Just know that it will have a slightly crispier exterior as it sets, but these are best served warm out of the oven anyway. Top with Triple Vanilla Ice Cream, grab two spoons, and dig in with your loved one.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Double Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie for Two

Yield: One 5-inch skillet cookie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, grape seed oil, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 (85 grams) cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup (55 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and spray a 5-inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, non-dairy milk, both sugars, tapioca flour, and vanilla extract with a fork.
  3. Continue beating the mixture with a for for 1-2 minutes until it thickens and resembles a smooth caramel.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and gently stir until combined.
  5. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of flour and cocoa powder and stir until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, being careful not to over mix.
  7. Spread the dough into the cast iron skillet and bake for 9-11 minutes.
  8. Serve warm and top with ice cream.
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Vegan Triple Vanilla Ice Cream

Triple Vanilla Ice Cream

I’m now 2 full weeks into being vegan, and the learning process continues. I suppose I already knew that you can be a really unhealthy vegan if you only eat carbs and processed foods, but I learned it the hard way when I did just that because I was too lazy to go to the grocery store. I really learned the hard way after eating frozen “mock” chicken sliders for 3 meals in a row and then trying to exercise. Let’s just say I was barely functional for the rest of the day.

So after my run I took a 3 hour nap and barely dragged myself out of bed for dinner only because Aaron had suggested we try a vegan restaurant in town called The Spiral Diner. I’d had a bad experience there a few years ago with a Philly cheesesteak so I was reluctant to go back, but I’m glad we gave it another shot. We had chips and queso, which has been the only acceptable cheese alternative I’ve had so far, followed by a decent vegan BLT with the best spicy ranch sauce I’ve had (vegan or otherwise), and the most amazing chocolate and peanut butter milkshake. After I got some much needed fat into my system, I went from on the verge of quitting this whole non-dairy lifestyle to feeling reenergized and ready for the next couple of weeks.

I’ve done a better job about being prepared and planning out my meals this week so I haven’t felt quite as fatigued, but nothing has been able to take my mind off of that chocolate peanut butter milkshaaaaake! Which is part of the reason why I’m posting an ice cream recipe in the middle of winter. The other reason is that I had originally intended on posting a vegan vanilla ice cream recipe last summer, but I failed so many times at it that I put it on the back burner.

Triple Vanilla Ice Cream
Triple Vanilla Ice Cream
Triple Vanilla Ice Cream

This is a take on recipe I found on Serious Eats, and by far has the best texture of any vegan ice cream I’ve tried. The triple vanilla part comes from using a vanilla bean, vanilla extract, and vanilla sugar (you can learn how to make vanilla sugar here). This recipe uses corn syrup, which I know many people prefer not to use, but Wholesome Sweeteners makes an organic non-GMO variety. If you have a corn allergy, you can proabably use tapioca syrup, brown rice syrup, or golden syrup since they have a similar texture, but I haven’t tested them.

If you have difficulty scooping the ice cream right out of the freezer, let it sit outside for 5-10 minutes before serving. Not only is it easier to scoop, but the flavors of rock solid ice cream right out of the freezer are less pronounced, so letting it rest will actually help it taste better.

I was planning on posting a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter milkshake after this one, but I felt a little bit silly telling you to dump things in a blender and calling it a recipe, so here it is: 1 cup of ice cream + 1/2 cup non-dairy milk + 3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder (or natural or raw cacao if you prefer) + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter = Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshaaaaaake!

Vegan Triple Vanilla Ice Cream

Yield: one pint plus a little extra

Ingredients

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled in the refrigerator for 24 hours
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop off the hardened coconut cream (you won't need the remaining coconut water).
  2. Combine the coconut cream, coconut milk, corn syrup, vanilla sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Scrape out the inside of the vanilla bean and add it to the mixture, stirring the mixture frequently. Set the vanilla bean pod aside for later.
  4. Once the mixture begins to simmer, use an immersion blender to blend the ice cream for about 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a blender and blend it that way.
  5. Stir in the vanilla extract and place the vanilla bean pod in the mixture.
  6. Pour the hot mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely chilled.
  7. Remove the vanilla bean pod and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
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Recipe adapted from Serious Eats
If you don’t have vanilla sugar, you can use regular unbleached granulated sugar.