Monday, February 27, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Vegan Cake

I have made this cake six times in the last six weeks. That is a lot of cake. Each time it has sat on my counter I have made calls to friends asking if I could bring them cake so I don't have to finish it all myself. I jokingly call it Breakfast Lunch and Dinner cake because it really is that good. I have made it for dinner parties 3 times, birthday cupcakes for a little friend, a birthday cake for a tahoe adventure two days ago and an almost birthday cake the first go round.

This recipe was sent to me by a friend. It seems to be a common vegan cake recipe, but I changed it a bit to deepen the flavors, and added a butter cream frosting recipe to compliment the spices. I have no attachments to making vegan food over non-vegan food. When it comes to baking, I just like what tastes best. I think cakes are a tough sell, and hard to get right. This has proved to be foolproof, and when I say it gets rave reviews, that is somewhat of an understatement. More times than not, everyone has eaten two pieces at once when they have eaten this cake. That is a testament to outstanding cake.

The recipe calls for one cup of oil. At first I used melted coconut oil. It worked well to make the cake, but the kids did not love coconut flavor, and complained about it. Then I switched over to walnut oil. I loved the neutral slightly nutty taste. Then I started fooling around with the chocolate. I ended up increasing the chocolate called for in the recipe. I have had too many chocolate cakes that fall short of robust chocolate flavor. The addition of chocolate to the recipe really made the cake shine! Along with increasing chocolate, I added cinnamon and then cayenne, and topped with a Grand Marnier butter cream (non-vegan!) frosting that absolutely catapulted this cake into it's own special universe.

Make sure you line your cake pans with parchment for this cake, and keep a very, very close eye on the baking time. Overcooking this cake even a small bit will adversely affect how spectacular it is. I stand by the oven the last ten minutes of cooking toothpick testing the cakes. The best part about this cake (in addition to how moist it is) is that I bet you have all the ingredients in your house right now to make it, and it takes less than 15 minutes to throw together. The Grand Marnier might be the only ingredient not readily available in your pantry. My good friend made this a few days back for her daughter's birthday and topped it with a bit of powdered sugar and they all loved it. So, there is lots of flexibility. I have two versions of this cake. The spicy and the non-spicy. The cinnamon adds the right amount of base flavor without it tasting of cinnamon. Just a boost of the natural chocolate flavors. The spicy version doubles the cinnamon with a burst of cayenne and may be for the adult dinner party. Either way the results are worth a bit of experimentation.

This is the cake I sent with my ex-husband a few weeks back. M has been with him this past week while school has been out on break. It has been the longest I have ever been away from her. The first week to myself in 7 years. I accomplished a lot, and was very thankful for the space and time to stretch, grow, explore and brainstorm. Among other business adventures I am planning on diving into, I am going to be starting my own CSK (community supported kitchen) share. A small group of locals will be able to subscribe to a weekly box of my special foods. I am planning to include things like bottles of my lacto-fermented soda, homemade mustard and teriyaki sauce and my polenta blood orange cake. Things that I wish I could find locally, but can't. It will be exciting to share this progression with you. This is a food model that I think will be taking shape in communities more and more. Last week I met with my friend, mentor and local business owner who owns a cooking school and certified kitchen in my town. In our conversation, she talked about a friend from Berkeley who was one of the partners who started Three Stone Hearth. It is a very successful model of subscription food. I am really looking forward to starting my own micro-version of Three Stone Hearth, inspired by my friend Wendy's similar vision. A really innovative way to support local farms, local businesses and come together in a communal way to share food. A food nirvana of sorts!

Mexican Chocolate Vegan Cake
makes two cake rounds 

3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups liquid (can be water, black tea, espresso, coffee)
2 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbls vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup walnut oil (or any kind of oil you like)
1 cup coco powder
1 tsp cinnamon
*** Add 1 extra tsp. of cinnamon and 1 tsp of cayenne for spicy version***

In a bowl mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne (optional) salt, coco powder, baking soda with a fork or whisk. Add oil and liquid of your choice. Mix well. Lastly add the vinegar and mix well. Pour into parchment line cake pans that are greased. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 min. Test with toothpick. When toothpick comes out clean, cakes are done. Let cool in pans then frost. 

Grand Marnier Butter Cream Frosting
makes about 2 1/2 cups frosting

1 1/2 stick room temperature butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 good pinch salt (I always use celtic sea salt)
2 Tbls Grand Marnier


Nancy said...

congratulations on your new csk business! i interned at three stone a few years ago, such a lovely group of people.

this cake is positively gorgeous; i would like a slice right now please!

Anonymous said...

This cake had finally exited my consciousness and now here it is just beckoning to be made and consumed! I know that actual cake doesn't exist anymore, or I would be knocking on your door for a slice instead of trying my hand at your craft. It truly is delicious, frosted or not.

Your chicken soup rocks the house. Second time in the last few weeks and we don't have to freeze a bit of it!

Becky said...

Jess, that is an awesome idea!! Holy cow I can't believe it didn't come to you before this! I'm SO excited for you, it sounds like two halves of a whole coming together. I see great things!

Ashley said...

I'm putting this on the list of cakes to test for the wedding right this second! I love the addition of spice.

You CSK sounds incredible - what a novel idea. Your community is in for a treat!

Jessica said...

Nancy I remember you saying that! I was thinking about trying to intern also; you think it was was valuable?

Ashley I thought about it last night and this would be a great wedding cake. It is tender though, for frosting, but it holds up really well. Tell us what you think xo

Becky wish you were closer to taste test for me..

Nik..I love you

Karen said...

Jessica - this looks delicious! What kind of liquid do you use for your cake? Water? Coffee? Can't wait to make it!

Jessica said...

Karen I usually used 1 cup coffee and 1 cup water :)

Anonymous said...

Makes me wish I didn't live in Chicago.

Karen said...

Thanks - yum, can't wait to try!

Angela said...

This cake is so good I think I am going to make it again today. I love how flexible it is and so easy and quick. I can't wait to hear more about your csk! xx

Jessica said...

Angela you have been such a support, thank you so so much. You even tolerate my severe misspellings and crazy typos xo

Anonymous said...

This looks so good, and I've been meaning to make a "for the heck of it" layer cake - it will be easy to make gf and whip up for my little family, I think. Love the cinnamon/cayenne combination, and especially that you don't shy away from using oil.

And your CSK sounds incredible - I agree that this community food model is starting to catch on. Can't wait to hear more about it as the csk progresses. :)

Jax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jax said...

What kind of vinegar do you use? Balsalmic?

Jax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

Jax..I use apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. I would guess balsamic would work..but might impart a flavor which could be a good or not good thing depending on your taste! You could use champagne vinegar too!


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