This, friends, was a test. A test to see which one is stronger…my laziness, or my pride. Well, pride won, by about a mile. Because after my carrot cake disaster I had several options: 1) Do nothing, serve carrot cake and hope for the best 2) Create simple yet pleasing backup cake to serve in case carrot cake is inedible, or 3) Spend all day making complicated chocolate espresso swiss buttercream and piping chocolate designs to prove to yourself that you ain’t gonna let no homely carrot cake bring YOU down.
Guess which one I chose.
Which is totally ridiculous. It’s like missing the opening height in the high jump and waltzing over to the official and saying…you know what? I’m just going to try again at 6 ft.
And yet, here we are.
Also, the chocolate cake was vegan.
I’ll wait. Are you done scoffing? Ok, well now let me go ahead and tell you this vegan cake is DELICIOUS and never have I heard a non-vegan complain about it. So put your vegan hatred aside for a moment and make the damn cake. It’s not even about veganism, it’s about magic. Because when you add the cider vinegar to the batter it reacts with the baking soda and the batter turns pale and then you shove it in the oven and it creates a really great and moist texture. Magically.
I took the frosting from another recipe. I really wanted to buttercream this cake. I know, it totally defeats the purpose of the vegan cake in the first place when you slather it with 2 sticks of butter. But I wasn’t serving any vegans and since this was a birthday cake, I wasn’t content to just sprinkle it with powdered sugar and call it a day (incidentally…this cake is totally great just sprinkled with powdered sugar and called a day). So I doubled the cake recipe and made a 4 layer cake.
There is a moment every time you make buttercream when you are convinced you have messed it up. I haven’t made buttercream in a while, so I forgot this happens. When you add the butter to the shiny egg whites, it curdles. And you’re like, what the F? What is going on? Did I ruin this again? CAN I NOT DO ANYTHING RIGHT GAAAHHH>!@>>! But then all you have to do is keep beating. Don’t stop believing! And sure enough, a few minutes later, everything works out and you have silky beautiful buttercream and you should really learn how to freak out less, darling.
Vegan Deep Chocolate Cake
from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics (I doubled it to fill 2 8″ rounds)
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water or chilled brewed coffee (i just happened to have 2 cups of cold coffee hanging around…twas a miracle)
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 tbsps cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously oil an 8″ square or round baking pan and dust with a little sifted cocoa or line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, combine the oil, water or coffee, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well blended and smooth.
Add the vinegar and stir briefly; the baking soda will begin to react with the vinegar right away, leaving pale swirls in the batter. Without wasting any time, pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve the cake right from the pan or, when it’s cool, transfer it to a plate.
Chocolate espresso buttercream
from Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake recipe at Use Real Butter
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tsps instant espresso powder
1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
(Below, I used Jen’s method. She never lets me down)
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, and 2 teaspoons espresso powder in top half of double boiler. Allow to heat for 8 to 10 minutes, transfer to a stainless steel bowl and stir until smooth. Set aside until needed.
Marcel’s method: Place 1 pound of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat the butter on low for 2 minutes then on medium for 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the butter to a large stainless steel bowl. Set aside until needed. Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 5 egg whites and 1 cup sugar in the top half of the double boiler. Gently whisk the egg whites until the reach a temperature of 120°F, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the heated egg whites to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Remove from mixer. Fold melted chocolate into the butter, using a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine. Fold in the whipped egg whites until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Jen’s method: Place egg whites and sugar in a Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Set bowl over 1 inch of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently until mixture reaches 140°F. Remove from heat and set on Kitchenaid mixer with balloon whisk. Whisk on speed 4 until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while – should be cooler than your hand). Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify (this might take 6-10 minutes). Once desired consistency has been reached, fold in cooled chocolate until well incorporated.