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!

Copycat Hilton Garden Inn Cookies and a Cookie Swap!

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! I was somewhat hesitant to do so this year since I’ve been traveling so much, but I’m so glad I did. It gave me a chance to share some of my favorite cookies with people, and I got to taste cookies from some amazing bloggers. It also gives me a chance to share a story that I was too embarrassed to share earlier, but now that I’m posting this recipe, I can’t hide my crazy anymore.

A few months before my wedding, I went to check out some hotels near my parents’ house in Indiana that our guests would be staying in. After a trip to the Hilton Garden Inn, the manager offered us some of their cookies, warm and fresh our of the oven. I’m not often impressed by hotel cookies, but these were good. Really good. Essentially, they’re oatmeal cookies with cranberries, blueberries, and white chocolate chips. And apparently crack, because they’re totally addictive (don’t worry people who received my cookies, I left that ingredient out).

When I got back home to Dallas, instead of focusing on my upcoming wedding, I became obsessed with recreating these cookies. I even went to a few local Hilton Garden Inn’s so I could get some cookies to aid in the recreation process. They all refused to sell me any and looked at me like I was crazy.

I did, however, manage to get my hands on a list of ingredients, and I found out that the original recipe uses no butter or eggs. However, I like the flavor of butter in my cookies, so I used a half butter half shortening combo, but feel free to use all shortening to make them more authentic. I didn’t like any of the eggless varieties of these cookies that I tested, so I added an egg to mine. I also made these cookies mini, because when it comes to snacks, I’m a fan of quantity. If you decide to make larger cookies, you’ll need to adjust the baking time.

To keep these cookies from spreading, shape them into squares and freeze them for at least one hour before baking. If you don’t care if they look exactly like the original Hilton Garden Inn Cookies, there’s no need to shape the cookies in advance. You can just chill the dough in the fridge for an hour before baking.

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

Copycat Hilton Garden Inn Cookies and a Cookie Swap!

Yield: about 3 dozen mini cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 dried blueberries (or blueberry craisins)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
  • For topping:
  • Rolled Oats
  • Sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar

Instructions

  1. Place the dried cranberries, blueberries, and white chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse a few times until you get smaller bits. (This step is optional, but leads to a more authentic cookie).
  2. With an electric mixer (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar for 1-2 minutes. Don't over mix, as this can cause the cookies to spread.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for an additional 30 seconds until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and beat on low until just combined.
  6. Stir in the quick oats and the cranberry/blueberry white chocolate mixture.
  7. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Use a small cookie scoop to portion out the dough and shape them into squares with your hands. Place the shaped cookies onto the cookie sheets and top with rolled oats and sparkling sugar.
  9. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer for at least one hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  11. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, until the edges start to lightly brown.
  12. Cool completely on wire racks.
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Cookie recipe adapted from allrecipes.com