Recipe: Ten-minute vegan chocolate cake

Accoutrements for improvising applesauce.
Accoutrements for improvising applesauce.

We had another house dinner last Saturday, and it was kind of a relief not to be organizing it (many thanks to Morgan for taking charge!). I couldn’t just sit around not contributing, though…and when I happened upon a link promising “Six Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake” in the recipe archives of the legendary Moosewood Restaurant, I knew I had to try it.

Dry ingredients (finally used up my GF flour blend. Baking with spelt flour, here I come!).
Dry ingredients (finally used up my GF flour blend. Baking with spelt flour, here I come!).
The rather disgusting-looking wet ingredients (minus the cider vinegar).
The rather disgusting-looking wet ingredients (minus the cider vinegar).

Not without a few changes, of course, because I’m incapable of leaving well enough alone. I reduced the sugar by 1/4 and substituted grated apple (applesauce is apparently not a thing in the UK) for some of the oil. I greased the baking pan I used (which was neither 9-inch round nor 8×8-inch square, since we don’t have either) in the hopes that this would offset the additional sticking potential of a reduced-oil cake. For the coffee, I dissolved a packet of instant coffee in cold water and whisked it until it dissolved. I also read on the blog of somebody else who made an adapted version (Cookie and Kate) that the glaze could be made more frosting-like by reducing the amount of hot water used to 1-2 Tbsp, so I tried that. Finally, I mixed the batter in a separate bowl, because I was worried about not mixing in all the dry ingredients if I tried making it all in the baking pan. All in all, I figure this adds a few minutes to the prep time, so we’re calling this a ten-minute cake, not six. (Sadly, this also does not include baking time, prep time for the glaze, or cooling time…)

Everything but the vinegar. I didn't get a picture of that stage because I was too busy frantically stirring.
Everything but the vinegar. I didn’t get a picture of that stage because I was too busy frantically stirring.

While I’m reasonably happy with how it turned out (and it certainly got eaten with no complaints!), I think I’d try Moosewood’s glaze. I found the cake to be a bit dry and crumbly, and I have a feeling that a more liquid glaze would help with both those issues, as would using normal flour instead of the rather grainy gluten-free mix that I’ve been using. The chocolate “glaze” turned out the consistency of frosting when warm, but set to approximately the consistency of a chocolate bar when cooled…which I guess I should have expected, because that’s basically what it was! This made it separate from the cake when we were cutting it, and it was all a bit messier than expected. It might just be me, but richness of the topping made the cake seem less chocolate-y. I think I’d try increasing the amount of cocoa next time as well.

Fresh out of the oven! You can see some pale swirls from where the vinegar didn't quite get mixed in.
Fresh out of the oven! You can see some pale swirls from where the vinegar didn’t quite get mixed in.
Right before slicing.
Right before slicing.

Accounting for all the issues that my alterations caused, I’d say this is more Moosewood magic, and a great, basic vegan chocolate cake from which many wonderful variations could spring…

A bit crumbly, but delicious!
A bit crumbly, but delicious!

Ten-Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake

Adapted from: Moosewood and Cookie and Kate.

1.5 c white flour (I used a GF blend)
1/3 c natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce or puree of 1/2 peeled apple
1 c cold water or coffee
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

Optional chocolate glaze:
1/2 lb semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp – 3/4 c hot water*
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Lightly grease a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan (I used an 8×10-in baking dish, because it’s all we have).

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar.

In a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl, measure and mix together the oil, cold water or coffee, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the larger bowl and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk.

When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Quickly pour into the cake pan and put in the oven.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (mine took 20, but was spread thinner in the pan than yours will be if you use the cake pan sizes recommended) and set aside to cool.

For the optional glaze: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, microwave oven, or reset the oven to 300º and melt the chocolate in the oven for about 15 minutes in a small ovenproof bowl or heavy skillet. Stir the hot water and vanilla into the melted chocolate until smooth (I found a fork/whisk, quick motion, and patience to be key). Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake. If you’re doing the thick version, spread like frosting.

Refrigerate the glazed cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestion: if not vegan/dairy-free, whipped cream or ice cream of pretty much any flavor would be awesome here. If vegan or dairy-free, maybe a nice glass of almond or soy milk or some coconut whipped cream.

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