Whole Wheat Vegan Chocolate Cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

I’ve decided to up my chances of keeping my New Year’s resolutions by making them easier this year. Let’s call them goals instead, shall we? I figured I could handle one short term goal and one long term goal.

Long term goal- phone detox. You know that moment when you find yourself on your phone, iPad, and computer all at the same time? Guilty. I’m going to start my detox by NOT looking at my phone first thing in the morning. Doesn’t sound like much, but baby steps, people. I may have to buy a real alarm clock.

Short term goal- Go vegan for a month. You can do anything for a month, right? It’s not too far of a stretch from my current diet. I wish I could say that I had a really good reason for doing it other than I’m just curious about life without cheese, but I just want to try it. Needless to say, you’ll be seeing more vegan recipes than usual on the blog, starting with this one.

And guess what? It’s a mini cake! I can’t help myself, they are just so cuuute! I healthified it a little bit by replacing half the oil with applesauce and using whole wheat pastry flour. You could also use a half and half mix of whole what pastry flour and all-purpose flour to make it less obviously whole wheat if you want to.

Vegan Chocolate CakeVegan Chocolate CakeVegan Chocolate Cake

During my vegan month, I’m going to explore other frostings outside of the margarine/shortening/so much powdered sugar your teeth hurt variety. I gather from comments and emails that most of my readers don’t like overly sweet frosting (I don’t either), but I have yet to find a good version of vegan swiss buttercream. However, I know there are other good vegan frostings out there and I can promise you that this one is not too sweet and very chocolaty. I added corn syrup to keep the frosting shiny and smooth (keep in mind that this is not HFCS) but you can sub golden syrup, maple syrup, or omit it all together.

Whole Wheat Vegan Chocolate Cake

Yield: One 3 layer 4-inch cake or 2 layer 5-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process but natural will work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 8 ounces (224 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee or espresso (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (optional)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 3 4-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes to curdle.
  3. Add the sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract and whisk until frothy.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.
  5. Divide the batter equally between the 3 pans and bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on wire racks for about 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the wire racks and cool completely.
  7. For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
  8. Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.
  9. Heat the non-dairy milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil.
  10. Pour the non-dairy milk over the chocolate chips and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  11. Stir until smooth.
  12. Stir in the coffee and corn syrup until smooth.
  13. To make the ganache extra smooth, you can use an immersion blender to blend it.
  14. Put the ganache in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes or until it reaches a spreadable consistency.
  15. To Assemble the Cake:
  16. Place on layer of cake on a 4-inch cake board or a plate.
  17. Spread about 2 tablespoons of ganache on top.
  18. Do the same with the 2nd layer and place the 3rd layer on top.
  19. Place the frosted layer in fridge for 5-10 minutes to set up. This will prevent the cake from sliding around when you frost the outside.
  20. Remove the cake from the fridge and place a large dollop of frosting on top of the cake.
  21. Using an offset spatula, work your way around the sides until the entire cake is covered with a thin layer of frosting.
  22. Let the crumb coat set in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  23. Once the crumb coat has set, spread a thicker layer of frosting on the top and sides of the crumb coat to create a smooth finish.
  24. Top with fleur de sel or sprinkles.
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Notes:
Since these cakes are so small and I don’t want to lose any when I level the cake, I used Bake Even strips to keep the cakes flat. Using these may add a couple of extra minutes to the baking time.

You may be wondering, “Who the hell has 3 4-inch cake pans?” I don’t, actually, and I had to wash out my 4-inch cake pan in between baking each layer. If you’re not as devoted to mini cakes as I am (by devoted I mean insane), you can make two 5-inch cakes, or one 7-inch cake. You might even be able to fit it into a 6×3 inch pan, but I haven’t tried it.

2014 Recipe Favorites

Happy (almost) New Year! I hope 2014 was great for you. I say this every year, but I just can’t believe how fast it went by. It’s like time speeds up the older I get. I can’t wait to share more recipes with you this year, but before I do, let’s take a look back at our favorites from 2014.

Your favorite cake: Vegan Vanilla Birthday Cake
This was the winner by a landslide! I’ll definitely be making more vegan cakes in 2015.

Vegan-Vanilla-Cake

My favorite cake: Chocolate Chip Layer Cake
The cake that happened by accident turned out to be my favorite! I love the combo of the chocolate frosting and whipped cream, and mini chocolate chips make everything better.

Chocolate Chip Cake

Your favorite cupcake: Nutella Bomb Cupcakes
What can I say? You have good taste. This one comes in a very very close second for me, too.

Nutella Cupcakes

My favorite cupcake: Spiced Apple Walnut Cupcakes with Goat Cheese Frosting
Because goat cheese frosting always wins.

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Your favorite non-cake dessert: Vegan Chocolate Pudding with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream
Peanut butter whipped cream!!!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

My favorite non-cake dessert: Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies with Sea Salt
Another vegan recipe. Just goes to show that you really don’t need eggs or dairy to make a great dessert.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cookies

Before I go, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have read this blog, made a recipe, left a comment, pinned on Pinterest, liked on Facebook, or followed on Instagram. It means the world. Here’s to a great 2015!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Crunch Cake

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch Cake

I will admit that December has pretty much been kicking my ass so far. In the balance of work/blog/life/sleep, blogging has been coming in last place. Not to mention the fact that I’m married to a non-Indian person now so I have to think about Christmas and presents and all that stuff more than I normally would. I did, however, have a few minutes to throw together this little cake. And by throw together, I mean I had 2 failed attempts because I tried to rush and ended up leaving out some important ingredients (like eggs) the first couple of times. Remember that whole post about having a relaxed holiday? Yeah, that totally didn’t work. But enough grumbling, let’s talk cake!

The cake recipe is from The Brown Betty Cookbook, which has been sitting unused on my bookshelf for entirely too long. The Chocolate Buttermilk Cake requires 2 egg yolks, which had me wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites. In hindsight, I probably should have used them in the frosting, but that would have been too simple. Plus, I have been stalking Katherine Sabbath’s instagram profile lately, and I love the idea of using meringues as cute little cake toppers.

Aaron loves mint chocolate cake, but he requires that it be paired with mini chocolate chips, so I threw some of those in between the layers. I also had a few Peppermint Jo Jos on hand so I crushed them up and threw some of those in along with some crushed meringue cookies because, why not? It’s a total smorgasbord of minty chocolate chippy cookie crunchy goodness. I didn’t measure how much of each topping I used, but after I tasted the finished product, I wish I had added more. You can add anything you want- crushed candy canes, peppermint bark, etc. And don’t be afraid to use a heavy hand. Texture = good.

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch CakeMint Chocolate Cookie Crunch CakeMint Chocolate Cookie Crunch Cake

If you don’t have 7-inch cake pans, you can get 3 shorter 8-inch layers out of this recipe or 2 9-inch layers. Keep in mind that if you use different sized baking pans, you will need to adjust the baking time.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Crunch Cake

Yield: One 3 layer 7-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the Buttermilk Chocolate Cake:
  • 2¼ cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (60 grams) plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ (180 ml) cup boiling water
  • For the Mint Meringues:
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) superfine sugar (I took granulated sugar and put it through the food processor)
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • a few drops of green gel food coloring
  • For the Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
  • 8 large egg whites or 8 ounces (227 grams) liquid egg whites
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (454 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 teaspoons mint extract
  • a few drops of green gel food coloring (I used Americolor brand)
  • Toppings:
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Peppermint Jo Jos or Mint Oreos
  • Leftover mint meringues
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hot milk

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and grease and line 3 7-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract until blended.
  4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat on low speed until blended. Turn the mixer up to medium high and beat until smooth.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in ¾ cup boiling water and beat until blended.
  6. Divide the batter equally between the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes.
  7. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.
  8. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  9. For the Meringues:
  10. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium low speed until they are frothy (about 60 seconds).
  12. Add the cream of tartar and turn the mixer up to medium high.
  13. Beat the mixture until it becomes stiff and shiny. (about 90 seconds).
  14. Add about ½ of the sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the remaining sugar, mint extract, and a few drops of the food coloring and beat until incorporated.
  15. Place a round pastry tip in a decorating bag and fill the bag with the meringue mixture and pipe onto the parchment paper (I made a few in different sizes).
  16. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the cookies are firm, smooth and dry.
  17. Turn the oven off and let the meringues sit the oven for a few more hours or overnight.
  18. After the meringues are completely cooled and dry, use the edible pens to decorate them.
  19. For the Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  20. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer).
  21. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water, nor should the water be at a rolling boil. It's the steam that's going to heat the egg whites, since we don't want scrambled eggs.
  22. Heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 150 degrees fahrenheit (140 is ok for liquid egg whites), whisking frequently so as not to get scrambled eggs.
  23. Remove the bowl from the heat, and whip the egg whites on medium high using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer.
  24. Whip the egg whites until they become fluffy and double in volume. The bowl should be cool to the touch (this will usually take several minutes).
  25. Turn the mixer down to medium low, and add the butter in one chunk at a time, until it has all been incorporated.
  26. If the mixture looks curdled at this point, this is normal. Just keep whipping for a few more minutes until it comes together. If the mixture looks soupy, you can add a few cubes of chilled butter, or stick the whole bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and then continue beating.
  27. Once the buttercream has become smooth, and the mint extract and food coloring and beat until incorporated.
  28. To Assemble the Cake:
  29. Place one layer of the cake on a7 or 8-inch cake board.
  30. With an offset spatula, spread about 1 cup of the buttercream filling on top of the first layer.
  31. Top with mini chocolate chips, crushed oreos, and crushed meringue cookies.
  32. Repeat this process with the second layer, spreading the remainder of the filling on top.
  33. Place the 3rd layer on top.
  34. Place the cake on a turntable, and apply a thin layer of the chocolate frosting on the sides and the top of the cake to lock in the crumbs.
  35. Let the frosting set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  36. Apply the remainder of the frosting to the sides and top of the cake.
  37. Refrigerate the cake while preparing the glaze.
  38. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  39. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup.
  40. Microwave on medium power for 30 second intervals and stir after each interval until the mixture is smooth.
  41. Drizzle in the hot milk a little bit at a time until you reach a pourable consistency.
  42. Pour the warm glaze over the top of the cake (the frosting should be cold) and use an offset spatula to even it out.
  43. Top the cake with additional mini chocolate chips, crushed oreos, and meringue cookies.
  44. Serve at room temperature.
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Notes:
Cake recipe adapted from the The Brown Betty Cookbook
Chocolate Glaze adapted from allrecipes.com
Design inspired by Katherine Sabbath

-Since there are a lot of components to this cake, I made it over a period of a few days. I made the cake and the meringues one the first day and kept the cake in an airtight container at room temperature. I frosted the cake the next day, and did the glaze on the 3rd day.

-The glaze on this cake is shiny at room temperature. I was in a hurry to take the pictures and the cake was still cold so the glaze had hardened.

-Don’t forget to wipe down your tools with vinegar before making the meringue cookies and the swiss buttercream. Any traces of grease can cause a weepy meringue.