Nothing Says “Thank You” Like Chocolate
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.
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.
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.