Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

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When your mama asks you to make her birthday cake, you hit pause on your damn diet and you make your mama a birthday cake. #MamaDidntRaiseNoFool

What kind of cake did she want? Chocolate! And boy, did I ever deliver. This cake, my chocolate cake, is so light, fluffy, insanely moist, and decadently rich. If you’re a fan at all of chocolate cake then you simply must try this recipe. (If you don’t, they will revoke your “chocolate cake fan” card -of this I’m sure.) For my mom, I finished it off with some caramel frosting but you could use pretty much any frosting you’d like to top this bad boy. With that said however, you could also seriously just eat this cake naked -as in hey there, frosting haters, it’s perfect for you too!

Besides being delicioso, this cake is also very easy to make. The first step is to whisk together the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The wet ingredients for this little lovely include a heap load of sugar (always count sugar as a wet ingredient), almond milk, some of the deepest darkest coffee you can find, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce. Once all of that has been thoroughly combined, it’s time to add the dry ingredients in. The dry ingredients include flour, cocoa powder, some leavening agents, and a little salt. The batter should still be fairly liquidy upon whisking the dry ingredients in and that’s exactly what we want because liquid equals moisture.

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The next step is to pour the cake batter into a prepared pan -I used a 13×9 pan which I greased with a little “butter” and then lined with parchment paper. (The greasing helps keep the parchment paper down while you’re pouring the batter in.) Now, you could also use this batter to make cupcakes, or 2 (9-inch) rounds, instead of a 13×9 cake. Should you elect to make either of these I’d suggest that you start your timer with 30 minutes, rather than 45 minutes which is how long the 13×9 will bake for, and go from there.

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When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out nearly clean. And as with any cake, be sure to let it cool completely before applying frosting -if you’re frosting it, that is. Like I said, it’s moist enough that frosting is totally optional.

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Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: as a 13x9 cake, serves 12-16
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Vegan “butter” for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup dark coffee, brewed (Make sure this is measured as an actual cup rather than a coffee cup -I used my Keurig, made the largest cup size, then measured out 1 cup worth.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Burnt caramel frosting or the frosting of your choice (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepareĀ a 13×9 pan by greasing it and then lining it with parchment paper. (The grease helps the parchment stay put when you’re pouring the batter in later.) If you’re not wanting to make a 13×9 cake but rather cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, prepare those pans as needed instead.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar with the almond milk, coffee, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce, and whisk until smooth. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk again until smooth. (The batter will still be pretty liquidy but that’s exactly how we want it to be!)
  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the 13×9 cake comes out nearly clean. If doing cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, start with 30 minutes on the timer and then check the cakes with a toothpick and see if more time is needed. When done, if frosting or decorating, let cake cool completely first.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

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Sweet, buttery, and a little toasty -that’s what this frosting is.

It was inspired by my mom who asked me to make her a chocolate cake with caramel frosting for her birthday. I knew that I could totally handle the chocolate cake part but the caramel frosting part? I hadn’t made vegan caramel before, let alone attempted a caramel frosting. Thrown for a loop, I decided to turn to that wonderful world of information that we call the internet where I learned that you can make vegan caramel using unsweetened, full fat coconut milk. With a little tweaking on the ideas I found online, I managed to come up with a recipe for a caramel frosting that has a slightly burnt, toasty flavor to it which contrasts nicely with the overall sweetness.

Now, it’s not the quickest frosting to make but it is pretty easy.

First things first, you’re gonna grab a small pot and pop it onto your stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk and then add in some vegan “butter,” a little brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to simmer. Here’s where the time factor comes into play -you’re going to let this simmer for 1 hour, whisking it about every 8-10 minutes.

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When an hour has passed, add in a dash of vanilla then carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, slowly add in powdered sugar (scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed) until the desired consistency is reached.

Since I was frosting a 13×9 cake, which was remaining in it’s pan, I opted to kept the frosting on the softer side adding only 2 cups of powdered sugar to it. If you’re using this frosting for cupcakes or cookies though, where it needs to really stay in place, you’re going to want to add more powdered sugar. And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: enough to frost a 13x9 cake
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk with “butter,” brown sugar, and salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, whisking occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the vanilla. Carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, add in the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. For a softer frosting, for a non-layered cake, add 2 cups of powdered sugar. For a more stiff frosting, for layered cakes, cupcakes, or cookies, add a little more powdered sugar until you reach the consistency desired. (And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)

Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Here’s the 1st of 2 declarative statements in this post: I hate pineapple upside-down cake.

Yeah, you read that right! My mom, on the other hand, loves it. It’s one of her favorite desserts so it was high time I set about making her a vegan version that would take the cake -pun intended! Now here’s the thing about my mom, it takes a lot for her to call something, “great,” or, “perfect,” but those were the exact words she used to describe this cake so you better believe it’s something to try -if you’re a fan of pineapple upside-down cake, I mean.

Ready for the 2nd declarative statement of this post? Here it is: I don’t drink alcohol -like ever.

While I’m not a drinker (by personal choice) I do like to cook and bake with certain adult beverages from time to time. I find that they can really help amplify flavor, and add complexity, when used in moderation. Now I say moderation not because you’re going to get your family and friends plastered if you use too much (the alcohol does actually cook out), but rather because people tend to not enjoy super boozy recipes. Too much alcohol, just like too much salt or any other ingredient, can ruin a recipe in a heartbeat.

“But, Heather,” you might be asking, “if you don’t drink then how do you even know what flavor you’re adding to your recipe in the 1st place?” It’s called Google, my friends. There are plenty of sites out there which help break down the flavor complexities of things like champagne, red wine, and bourbon whiskey. Some even go so far as to tell you which flavors pair well with the adult beverage you’re looking into. I also happen to be surrounded by people who absolutely are willing to take a swig of something and tell me all about it. Sounds a little sketchy, I know, but it all absolutely works and this lovely little cake is proof of that!

To get started, we need to whip up some egg replacer (my favorite, Ener-G) so that it’ll be ready for us to use in a minute. Normally I’d be telling you to follow the instructions on the box, which says to use warm water to hydrate the Ener-G, however this time we’re doing things a little differently -a little more badass, one might say. We’re hydrating the Ener-G with bourbon whiskey! Oh yeah, you can do that, and we just did. #MicDrop

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Next, in a mixing bowl, the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) get whisked together until smooth. Then I add the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice (stolen from our can of pineapple slices), egg substitute, and the vanilla, and stir to combine. Now set the cake batter aside for a moment to prepare the pan for it.

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For this cake you’ll need a 10-inch round pan. Spray it generously with nonstick spray and then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the edges of the pan. The goal here is to have the bottom of the pan greased and the sides both greased and floured to prevent the cake from sticking.

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In the bottom of your prepared pan you’re going to pour in some melted vegan butter. Swirl it around the pan to make sure it sits evenly in the bottom then add in the brown sugar ensuring that it too is even across the pan. On top of that goodness, lay down the pineapple slices and, in the center of each, a maraschino cherry.

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Now grab the batter we made earlier and gently pour that into the pan. Get your cake into a preheated oven and bake it for about 45 minutes.

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You’ll know it’s done when the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan and the top, soon to be bottom, is golden brown. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

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After 5 minutes has passed, it’s time to turn that bad boy out! My preferred method for doing this is to sandwich the cake pan in between to large sheet pans with the sheet pan the cake is about to be flipped onto lined in parchment paper. Pinching the sheet pans tightly together so that the cake pan cannot move in between them, give the whole thing a quick flip then carefully remove the top sheet pan and the cake pan to reveal your upside-down cake!

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 1, 10-inch round cake, serving 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg substitute + 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 1/2 cups flour + more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from can of pineapple slices)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 7 slices of pineapple (a 20-ounce can will provide more than enough slices and juice for this recipe)
  • 7 maraschino cherries
  • Nonstick cooking spray for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare egg substitute by combining Ener-G powder with bourbon whiskey. Stir well then set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt. Whisk until smooth then add in the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice, egg substitute, and vanilla. Whisk to combine then set aside.
  3. Prepare a 10-inch round pan by spraying it with nonstick spray then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the inner edges to coat just the edges (not the bottom) lightly with flour. Shake out any excess flour.
  4. Pour melted vegan butter into pan. Swirl it around in the bottom of the pan to ensure an even layer and then sprinkle in the brown sugar, by hand, also making sure that it is even across the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of pineapple slices (7 slices to be exact) in the bottom of the pan and then place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Gently pour cake batter into pan then bake for 45 minutes. The cake will be done when edges are pulling away from pan sides, cake top (soon to be the bottom) is golden brown, and a toothpick stuck halfway down into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let finished cake rest in pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn cake out being very careful as it will still be very hot. (Read in post about how I prefer to do this!) Cake will keep in an airtight container on counter for up to 3 days.

Vegan Irish Apple Cake

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With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner I wanted to do a post featuring something Irish made vegan! My main criteria? It could not, and absolutely would not, be colored any shade of green. #IPityTheFoodColoring

Of course my first thought was, “ERMAHGERD POTATOES!!!” A logical first thought but alas, I wanted something different. I wanted something that was Irish but that didn’t punch you in the face with its Irish-ness. I wanted something that would caress your cheek (whichever cheek you prefer to be caressed upon) and then whisper in your ear, “Iiirriissshhhhh.” Immediately my mind went to desserts and, thanks to a little search engine inspiration, I figured out exactly what I wanted to make -Irish Apple Cake, also known as Kerry Apple Cake.

The traditional versions of this beloved Irish treat aren’t that sweet and they usually feature apples alone as the star of the show. I mean, it’s called apple cake so what would you expect, right? But in my modern take I have 2 stars -the apples, of course, and walnuts which add crunch and a little bitterness to offset the tart apples. I also upped the sugar just a smidge but the cake isn’t cloyingly sweet by no means so you can still enjoy it for breakfast just like they sometimes do in Ireland! However and whenever you choose to enjoy it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it -especially if you’re an apple lover like I am!

To get started, I went ahead and prepared some egg substitute for use a little later in the recipe. (By now I’m sure you know what my favorite egg substitute is in baking but, just in case you haven’t checked out any of my other recipes before, it’s Ener-G and I prepared it according to the instructions on the box for 2 eggs worth of substitute!)

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After I prepared my egg substitute I then prepared the walnuts by tossing them around with a little flour. We do this because nuts, and things like them that you add to cakes, tend to sink to the bottom of the cake if not coated in a little flour. Now, the batter for this cake is rather thick so I probably didn’t have to do this step but I thought better safe than sorry and it only took like 5 seconds to do! When all of your walnuts are nicely coated in a light layer of flour you’re just going to set them aside for a moment -we’ll come back for them soon, I promise!

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Okay, time to make the cake batter!

First I mixed the wet ingredients, including the egg substitute I made earlier, together. And remember now, we count sugar as a wet ingredient in baking. After all of that was whisked to perfection, I added the dry ingredients and gave it all a good stir. The batter should be pretty thick and that’s exactly how we want it to be so don’t be tempted to add more liquid. Once the batter is made set it aside for a minute so that we can get the apples ready.

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For the apples, you’ll wash them (obvi), then peel them and slice them thin (think 1/5th of an inch or a little over 1/8th of an inch). You’ll then core the slices and cut them into more bite size pieces. Lastly, you’re going to toss the bite size pieces in with a little flour -just like we did with the walnuts.

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Now it’s time to build our cake -no degree in cake building required!

In a prepared pan (sprayed, floured, and lined on the bottom with parchment paper) I add a thin layer of the cake batter. Don’t worry about spreading the thick batter out edge to edge, it will get pushed out as we add stuff to it. Speaking of adding stuff to it, we will then add half of our apples, pressing a little with each one to help spread the batter out, and then we will add half of our walnuts.

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On top of that first layer of apples and walnuts you’re going to spoon on dollops of batter. Again, we’re not looking to completely cover the pan edge to edge, we’re just looking for moderate coverage. Add the next layer of apples and walnuts now -the remaining amounts of each. Be sure to once again be pressing on the apples as you lay them down so that they help spread the batter around a little. The final layer is the remaining cake batter dolloped and then gently spread/pressed around to ensure that the apples are all covered. Once the final layer is complete you may then put the cake into the oven.

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When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Let that bad (Irish) boy cool completely then give him a nice dusting of powdered sugar and enjoy!

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Vegan Irish Apple Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Egg substitute for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G -it’s my favorite!)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour + 1/2 tablespoon for walnuts + 2 tablespoons for apples + extra for pan
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 granny smith (green) apples
  • Powdered sugar for dusting over finished cake

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by greasing it, dusting it with flour, and then lining the bottom with parchment paper. Prepare egg substitute according to directions on packaging for 2 eggs if you haven’t done so already. In a separate small dish, prepare walnuts by coating them with 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, vegan butter, almond milk, egg substitute, lemon juice, and vanilla. When combined, add 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to incorporate dry ingredients. Batter should be thick and smooth. Set aside for a moment to prepare apples. To prepare apples, wash then peel the apples. Slice apples into thin slices, core the slices, then quarter the slices. In a small bowl, toss the apples with 2 tablespoons of flour to lightly coat them.
  3. Grab your prepared pan and add in a thin layer of batter. Enough to coat most of the bottom but don’t feel the need to get it edge to edge. Layer in half of your apple pieces, pressing down on each as you add it so as to help push the batter around into a more even layer. Add half of your walnuts over top of the apples. Now add another layer of batter by spooning dollops of batter into the pan. Again, don’t worry about getting complete coverage because the batter will spread as you add the next layer of apples and walnuts. Add the final layer of apples and walnuts just as you did the first. Lastly, top the whole thing off with the remaining cake batter, dolloping it on and then carefully smoothing/pressing it out to ensure that all of the apples are covered.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes. When done, a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool cake fully then dust with powdered sugar. Cake will keep on counter in an airtight container, or covered well, for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days.