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

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!