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Nothing Says “Thank You” Like Chocolate

August 25, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Cake blasphemously topped with Sour Cream Ganache

Since Fig Jam & Lime Cordial posted a recent “In My Kitchen” photo of chocolate slab cake, I haven’t been able to get the notion of a simple, homey chocolate cake out of my flood-addled brain.  Throughout the post-flood recovery, our indefatigable staff worked hard to salvage thousands of flood-soaked architectural drawings for the University, and many of them worked through substantial portions of the weekend.  Their dedication deserved a sweet thank-you, and nothing says “thank you for working in uncomfortable, stinky conditions with a cheerful, can-do attitude” like chocolate cake.  At least, in my world, that’s one of the many things that chocolate cake can say.

I had been meaning to try a vegan chocolate cake recipe recommended by a long-time acquaintance in the Boston area.  Similar recipes have been knocking around at least since WWII, when eggs were in short supply.  I gussied up the basic recipe with coffee and cinnamon, which gave the cake a bit of a Mexican chocolate flair.  You can make this recipe with cider vinegar or white vinegar, but I used rice vinegar because it’s what I had on hand.  It did the trick.  The rise in this cake comes from the gas-producing reaction between the vinegar and baking soda, so make sure to get the batter into a hot oven as quickly as possible after combining the wet and dry ingredients.

Vegan Chocolate Cake (a.k.a. WWII Cake, Depression Era Cake, or Wacky Cake)

Worried that a vegan cake might be dry or light on chocolate oomph, I frosted the cake with a sour cream ganache a former coworker taught me to make.  I miscalculated: the chocolate cake was moist and rich all on its own, and I think I would have preferred it without the fudgy topping, perhaps just lightly dusted with powdered sugar.  Nonetheless, here are both recipes — for separate sampling or in combination, at your discretion.

“After the Flood” Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup coffee, cold

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Dry ingredients.

Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add the wet to the dry ingredients, and whisk quickly until smooth.  Pour immediately into a parchment-lined 8″x 8″ baking pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top springs back when touched.

Sour Cream Ganache

5 oz. milk chocolate

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1 cup sour cream

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl at 30-second bursts at 30 percent power in the microwave, stirring thoroughly between heatings.  Go slowly, and be careful not to scorch the milk chocolate.  Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and remove from heat when melted.  Stir in the sour cream and vanilla.  This frosting stiffens as it cools, so be sure to spread it while it’s still warm.

  1. August 25, 2010 12:01 pm

    This looks like the chocolate cake of my dreams. VEGAN? Did I really read that? I must try it. This vegan baking thing is making me very curious. Nice way to say thank you. Do you think you could send me a cake as a “thank you” for leaving a nice comment on your blog? We should be friends. I always am the one baking my thank you’s but have no one doing the same. Flowers and cards are nice, but chocolate is monumental!

  2. August 25, 2010 4:40 pm

    LOL — food blogging would be so much more fun if we could swap samples and not just recipes! If you end up putting nuts in the chocolate cake for your dad’s sake, you’ll have to let me know how it works out. I was thinking it might be nice doubled as a layer cake, maybe with some raspberry jam spread between the layers…

  3. Mumei permalink
    August 25, 2010 5:57 pm

    And it makes a great Bloody Mary! Ice, 2 shots vodka, 1-2 shots hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon grated horse radish, 4-5 ounces tomato juice, and Worcestershire and cracked pepper to taste. Garnish with garlic or blue cheese stuffed olives and a pickle wedge.

  4. August 25, 2010 6:09 pm

    I’m going to take a wild guess that you meant this comment for the post below, on Multi-Pepper Hot Sauce! (I blame WordPress for its confusing placement of the “Comments” button, and not the Bloody Marys you’ve been enjoying…) Thanks for the awesome recipe — I can’t wait to mix one up!


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