Day 30 of VeganMoFo…..
The last post of the month long vegan food feast is finally here! What a blur it has been and did it ever go by quickly. I was hesitant to initially sign up for it, 20 new recipes in 30 days seemed a little daunting for me since I am currently in school full time and work 30-35 a week but I filled in the sign up form and sent it away (almost) with immediate regret. What have I done? Have I gone crazy?
In a panic I started clicking away about the VeganMoFo 2013 blog roll and remembered how disappointed I was not signing up for last year’s event since I lacked the confident to try something so challenging. With this in mind, the panic (somewhat) settled I got to work pouring over vegan and non-vegan cookbooks alike to be inspired get some recipe ideas and flavour profiles I wanted to highlight with the season change. On my little whiteboard calendar I scheduled out the recipes and testing days, trying to be realistic about the time I would have to get everything done. I brought meals and treats into work asking my carnivore co-workers and friends to taste test almost everything I made, they happily obliged. The Pureed Broccoli and Cheezy Soup, Vegan Beer and Chocolate Chilli and this recipe were amongst their favourites.
I was once told that people in their kitchens are just looking for that perfect chocolate cake recipe. Molly Wizenberg states in the final chapter of her book A Homemade Life that a chocolate cake recipe is important in any cook’s repertoire (other things being important too) but a good chocolate cake was essential. With this spirit in mind, I wanted to create my perfect vegan chocolate cake for my repertoire (and hopefully yours too).
To me, chocolate cake needs to be rich, decadent and chocolate-ly. I have never heard some complimenting a chocolate cake that was airy and light. I like it when you can satisfy your chocolate craving with just a sliver of cake. Or a giant piece? I am not the boss of you.
When I first made this cake the taste was great but the cake looked rather plain and I wanted to end my first ever VeganMoFo with a bang. I called in a professional who was willing to be paid in cake and vegan Pumpkin Spice Lattes, my beautiful and talented friend Holly. She is so wonderfully creative, makes amazing tassel garlands and wants everything in the world to be sparkling and beautiful. She herself sparkles every day. I knew when she brought over a vintage box and bags of styling props, fresh flowers and a gorgeous white stand from Le Dolci bakery that I had put my precious cake into good hands.
I decorated the cake while she crafted a custom made little sign celebrating the end of Vegan MoFo 2014 and set up the shoot. My regular shoots are never quite as glamorous as this one but it has inspired me to get a little more creative and a lot more sparkle friendly.
I wouldn’t have thought of gold, peach and green accents (I am more of a black and white girl) but everything turned out beautifully. Now for the bang!
In her styling bag she brought a few sparklers but couldn’t remember if they were specifically meant for the outdoors or were acceptable for inside. We took the gamble and were blown away with the results however our squeals of delight were quickly drowned out by the pounding sound of the smoke detector. Oooops. Ringing eardrums and one pissed off cat later we were finally ready to cut the cake.
Swoooooon! I am in love with that word lately because it is perfectly describing how I am feeling about this dessert. The rich chocolate mixed with creamy coconut milk to make the most perfect decadent ganache, the double layer of dark chocolate cake and with the nutty toasted slivered almond edge, who wouldn’t swoon?
This cake is a little more expensive to make than my other recipes so you may want to save it for special occasions however not any more expensive than attempting to get a great tasting vegan chocolate cake custom made from a bakery. Homemade is always the way to go and you get to shamelessly lick the spatula if you are so inclined. I don’t think I have ever met anyone, young or old that would refuse a spatula coated in chocolate batter.
I loved doing VeganMoFo since it taught me a lot about myself: mistakes I have made with my organizational skills, how to work under pressure and of course where I want to be in the next few years, in life and with this site. For now, I am happy to take a little break from the kitchen (it needs a deep clean!) and enjoy my accomplishment. Until next year VeganMoFo….
Special thanks to Holly Bowman of Champagne Hearts: Parties-In-A-Box creator, stylist, sequin enthusiast and chocolate lover. This shoot was everything I wanted it to be because of your artful eye and hard work making sure every sequin is in the right place. Thank you so much for everything you did for me from making me a custom tassel garland to getting the hair out of my face when I was elbow deep in chocolate. I am a lucky gal to have such a wonderful and inspiring friend.
Thank you to Le Dolci in Toronto for allowing me to use your perfect white cake stand for the shoot and Sweet Woodruff for the gorgeous peach and white flowers that I have been enjoying well beyond the shoot day. Follow Le Dolci on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups boiling water
- 4 ounces dark chocolate squares
- 2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 2/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ¾ cup coconut milk, just the white solid part on top of the can
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 8 ounces dark chocolate squares
- 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
- 2 ounces vegan white chocolate
- 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
- Set oven rack on the middle slot and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the boiling water and cocoa until fully incorporated. Let cool.
- Spread half of the coconut oil between the two 9-inch pans in a thin layer. Dust the oiled pans with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess powder.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Place a small metal or glass bowl over a pot with a few inches of water in it. Add the 4 ounces chocolate squares to the bowl and bring the water to a gentle simmer but not boiling. Be sure the bowl fits snugly in the pot and no steam or water gets into the bowl of melting chocolate. Stir occasionally until most of the chocolate is melted, take off the heat and stir constantly until all the chocolate is melted.
- Once the cocoa water is cooled off (it can be warm but not hot), add in the wet ingredients to the medium bowl and mix until combined. In the dry ingredients bowl, create a well in the mixture and slowly add the wet ingredients including the melted chocolate.
- Whisk until combined, a few little lumps of flours are ok but do not over-mix the cake batter. The batter should look shiny and silky.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. With a rubber spatula, spread the batter to the sides and smooth the tops.
- Bake for 32-35 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean or with one or two crumbs on it but no raw batter.
- Transfer cakes to wire racks and let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the cake’s perimeter, invert the cakes onto the rack and allow them to cool completely before glazing with the ganache.
- Measure out the coconut milk solid and allow it to come up to room temperature. You don’t want it to be refrigerator cold when mixing it with melted chocolate.
- In a medium bowl (metal or glass) add the chocolate squares and coconut oil and use the same method as you did for the chocolate for the cake.
- Take off heat before the chocolate is completely melted and stir constantly until all the chocolate is melted. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the cocoa powder) and whisk until completely combined.
- Add the sifted cocoa powder and whisk until combined. I kept my ganache at room temperature while the cakes cooled.
- When the cakes have completely cooled you are ready to decorate. If your cake has a little bump in the middle of it, gently cut this off so it will sit flat with the other layer.
- Set the first cake back on a wire rack, poke a few holes into the top of the cake with a fork and spoon on 1/3 of the ganache onto the top of the cake. Spread the ganache evenly over the entire surface of the cake to the edges.
- Top with the second cake and pour the rest of the ganache over the middle of two layered cakes, spreading as you go to ensure the chocolate will cover its entire surface and sides (see picture). Once the ganache has covered the cake VERY CAREFULLY transfer the cake from the wire rack to the decorating plate (or serving plate). I used a wide spatula and had a helping hand. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to let the ganache set slightly.
- While the ganache is setting, melt the white chocolate in the microwave or the “bowl in the pot” method. With a rubber spatula transfer the white chocolate to a piping bag with a very small circular tip or I just used a Ziploc bag with a teeny bit of the corner snipped off. Drizzle the white chocolate quickly over the chocolate cake in whatever pattern you like, I did a zig-zag pattern at one angle and then the same pattern at its opposite angle.
- Gently press the slivered almonds all over the perimeter of the cake. With a sharp knife, cut into the cake, wipe the knife off and make another cut to make a slice.
- Read the entire recipe and instructions before you begin. There are a few things you need to time accordingly and bring up to room temperature before mixing it into the recipe.
- If you can't find vegan white chocolate, don't fret! It was mostly for decoration for the shoot but don't skip the almonds. They are insanely good with the rich chocolate ganache.
- The cake itself can be made up to 1 month ahead of time, double wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer Ziploc bag. Thaw out slowly in the fridge before glazing.