This is the story of my big cake.
I developed this recipe in one day, but in reality, it’s been part of my evolution for several years. The Chocolate Challenge Cake was inspired in part by my enduring love of baking and my will to want to figure things out. It was also influenced by things that happened while making my way through life. Long before we adopted a plant-based diet and were living in New Jersey, there was Harold’s Deli. They served big New York-style deli sandwiches and even bigger desserts. When a restaurant encourages you to share your food and you still take home enough for three days, you know it’s big. Bruce described their cakes accurately when he said they were the size of a tom-tom drum. The memory of a Harold’s cake had been sequestered in the recesses of my brain until a new restaurant opened up in our Delaware hometown. Their signature dessert is the Chocolate Challenge Cake that has four layers of cake, chocolate syrup and fudge-like frosting. True confession time: yes, we did order a slice. Since a portion of the proceeds go to charity, I felt it was my moral obligation to order the cake. One towering slice of this cake is big and tasty, but way too rich for what my body is used to. I left the restaurant feeling full from the cake and energized by the prospect of developing a plant-based recipe for a Chocolate Challenge Cake of my own. When I adapt conventional recipes into plant-based versions, I try my best to minimize certain ingredients like fat and refined sugar without compromising on taste. This recipe is what I call “plant-based” or vegan and is meant for an occasional indulgence. For the layers I used my chocolate-pumpkin cake recipe because the only fat comes from the milk and cocoa powder and is dense enough to support a thick frosting. The frosting is made with silken tofu, non-dairy chocolate and dates; the only refined sugar is in the chocolate. I couldn’t believe my eyes after I stacked the layers and piled on the frosting. The result was BIG — a dense choclolate cake with a dreamy fudge frosting that’s not too sweet or laden with excess fat. While this cake might look and taste like one heavy-duty dish of decadence, you won’t leave the table feeling weighed down. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.
Note: To make the cake as pictured, you will need to double the cake recipe and triple the frosting recipe. If you want to make a smaller-scale cake, simply make one recipe of both the cake and the frosting. The cake can be frozen by wrapping the slices in waxed paper, then placing in freezer bags.
Vegicurious Chocolate Challenge Cake
Make two recipes of the following cake:
2 cups soy, coconut or almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar (1-1/4 cups was good)
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
2/3 cup cocoa powder (sift out lumps)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8” baking pans and line bottoms with parchment.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, applesauce or pumpkin, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks.
Make three recipes of the frosting:
½ cup dates
12 oz. extra firm silken tofu
4 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup cocoa powder (optional)
Pour boiling water over dates and let soak about one hour to soften. Place dates and remaining ingredients in container of a high-powered blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you could omit the dates and add granulated sugar to taste.
Place cake layer on cake dish with flat side facing up. Spread a thick layer of frosting on top (I used 4 large ice cream scoops.) Repeat with the next three layers. Place remaining frosting on top layer and spread on sides and top of cake. To frost the sides, drag the icing from the top and spread along the sides. (An offset spatula works best for this.) Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.
22 Feb 2017