Archive | August, 2013

Pig Out On Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake will make you as happy as a piggy in a mud bath!

This cake will make you as happy as a piggy in a mud bath!

Converting carnivores, rejoice! You’re going to hog wild when you try this moist, delicious, luscious vegan chocolate cake!

I made this cake for my veterinarian, who is a serious chocoholic and one of the most wonderful people on earth. He provides incredibly compassionate veterinary care to the cats of Project Bay Cat, which is a humane feral cat management program that I co-founded 9 years ago. When I told him I wanted to make him a vegan cake to thank him for his kindness, he cocked his head and looked at me suspiciously, like he was trying to avoid a sucker punch.

“If it’s vegan, it’ll be good for me, so that means that it can’t taste good.  How could you possibly make it without butter, milk and eggs?” he asked with a far-off and somewhat fearful look in his eyes, probably envisioning a cake made of sawdust and frosted with spackle.

The challenge was on and I was determined to knock his socks off. To help overcome his vegan fears, I thought I’d distract him with a cute little pigs-in-a-hot-tub motif.

pig out on vegan chocolate cake

Much to my surprise, I was able to find a vegan version of the KitKat bar to create the siding for the hot tub – the dark chocolate version sold in Canada doesn’t have any animal-based ingredients – bonus!

When my vet saw this cake, he laughed out loud, and when he and his lovely wife tried it, they said it was the best chocolate cake they’ve ever had.

Give this a try – even without the cute pigs or the hot tub, it’ll still make you smile. It’s super simple and quick to make, and it’s moist, scrumptious and guilt-free!

Vegan Chocolate Cake (pigs in a hot tub edition)

Cake ingredients:
2 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cup water
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp distilled white vinegar

Frosting ingredients:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp coconut milk
1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan margarine (or equivalent)
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp agave syrup

Other ingredients:
8 dark chocolate vegan KitKat bars, scored into 32 individual ‘logs’

Cake directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Oil  and flour two 8″ round pan. This is a very moist cake, which makes it somewhat challenging to remove from the pan once baked. So use some parchment paper on the bottom of the pan so the cake will easily pop out when done.

In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients well. Then add all the wet ingredients and stir well. Pour into baking pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto wax paper or parchment.

Frosting directions: 
In a high-sided mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and cocoa. Add all the remaining ingredients, and using an electric beater, mix on low speed for one minute, scraping sides of bowl. Then mix on high for another minute or two until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Hot tub assembly:
I went for a smaller hot tub, so I cut off about an inch around the perimeter of the cakes. Place one cake in the middle of a plate and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Then place the second cake on top. Spread some frosting on top and place your piggies in the ‘mud puddle.’  Frost the sides of the cake generously as this will act as the glue to hold up the KitKat bar siding. Carefully place the KitKat bars shoulder to shoulder, with the unmarked side facing out. To make them even more uniform, gently tie a wide-banded ribbon around the lower section of the hot tub. Then serve and listen to your friends and family squeal when they see this delicious vegan treat!

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Sing Summer’s Song with Plum Granita

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It was close, but I’m happy to report that we survived Plumageddon! During a 3-week period every summer, our beautiful old plum tree dumps enough fruit to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. A few years ago, in a desperate attempt to put all the fruit to good use, I tried 14 plum recipes, and this one – elegant, vibrant Plum Granita – emerged as the Big Hit. It just sings summer! It’s my taste buds’ favorite summer song, and our friends request it more often than a 12 year-old asks to hear One Direction.

It’s no wonder why this granita so popular –  every spoonful of this icy delight bursts with the bright, sun-ripened taste of fresh plums. It’s got much more true-fruit flavor (and a lot less sugar) than sorbet, and its hint of fresh vanilla bean, allspice and cinnamon create a memorable melody of luscious flavor that will make you hum with joy. And bonus – it’s a healthy, fruit-filled alternative to fat-laden, dairy-based desserts. Plum Granita is a snap to make, and since it keeps well in the freezer, you can make a big batch and keep playing this hit throughout the year.

Enjoy!

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Plum Granita

3 pounds red plums, pitted and chopped
1.5 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole allspice berries
1 fresh vanilla bean

In a small pot stir together water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and allspice berries. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds and stir into the mix. Add the sliced vanilla bean as well, then bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to about 1.5 cups. Cool the syrup.

While the syrup cools, puree the plums in a food processor or blender. Place a sieve over a big bowl and press the pureed plums through it.

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This will fill your bowl with a thick liquid that looks kind of like a plum smoothy. Throw away the plum solids. Mix the cooled syrup into plum ‘smoothy’ and stir until well blended. Put the mixture into a Tupperware bowl and freeze for 1 hour. Then stir the mixture thoroughly with a fork, and repeat ever 45 minutes until you create a lovely, fluffy, light icy granita. Yum!

Can you see the tiny black specks? Those are vanilla seeds, which add a heavenly, aromatic dimension to this elegant dessert.

Can you see the tiny black specks? Those are vanilla seeds, which add a heavenly, aromatic dimension to this elegant dessert.