Friday, May 27, 2011

Chocolate Cake: Two Ways

I'll be the first to admit that it took me a long while to become a chocolate cake person. Chocolate ice cream, no. Chocolate cake, yes. But as with most things we didn't like as kids, it was because I hadn't had a truly good chocolate cake until later in life. I've since realized that for me, the two key components that determine if I'll like (and later crave) a chocolate cake are moistness and subtle coffee flavor.

Today I want to share my two favorite chocolate cake recipes - one vegan and one not. Yes, you heard me, a vegan cake, a vegan cake that puts many typical chocolate cakes to shame. The other cake is classic chocolate cake recipe I learned in a French cooking class. These are my two standbys and I hope they can become yours.

Vegan Chocolate Death Cake
from The Grit

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 12oz. package firm silken tofu
3 cups vegan chocolate chips (many semisweet brands contain no dairy)

A blend of wholesome soybeans, water and natural coagulant is poured into each of these little boxes. Once sealed, the mixture magically transforms into creamy, silken tofu right in the box. Cool, huh?
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease three 9 inch round cake pans, dust with flour and line bottom with parchment paper.
2. Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add oil and vanilla extract. Beat together on low until fully combined. On medium speed, gradually blend in coffee. When the mixture is smooth, add vinegar and blend on low speed until just combined.
3. Divide batter into the pans and bake 20 to 25 minute or until a knife or toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting and eating.
4. For icing: Drain excess fluid from silken tofu, crush and place in a medium saucepan with chocolate chips. Stir together over medium hear until chocolate is very soft. Puree in a food processor until fully blended. Cool  before frosting. Top with edible purple violets for a lovely look.

Classic Chocolate Cake

butter, for grreasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken (If you're tired of buttermilk going bad between cakes, try using Dry Powdered Cultured Buttermilk Blend at 4 Tbsp. to a cup of water. Don't forget to refrigerate after opening.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large to extra-large eggs, at room temperature (Put in hot water for 1 minute if in a hurry)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, or more if needed
1 16oz. bow confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix gently with a fork until combined.
3. In another bowl, add the vanilla to the eggs. Then add the buttermilk and oil and combine.
4. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry using a stand mixer if you have one or beat on low with a hand mixer. Still on low, slowly add the coffee and stir just until combined.
5. Pout the batter into the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes before frosting and/or eating.
6. For icing: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil and transfer to mixing bowl. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat with a mixer until it reaches spreadable consistency. Add more heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, to reach the desired thickness. Frost and sprinkle with nuts if desired.

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