Thursday, October 17, 2013

Deep Dark Chocolate Stout Cake #2, or the Accidental Vegan Cake (with optional non-vegan Chocolate Ganache)

Don’t get me wrong; I have absolutely nothing against vegans. It’s just that no one in my house happens to be one.  So when I set out a while ago to improve on my original Extra Stout Extra Chocolate Cake  , the furthest thing from my mind was making a vegan cake. The foremost thing on my mind? Lack of eggs in my refrigerator.  Yes, even renowned foodies occasionally run out of the basics…I’ll have six kinds of brown sugar in the house, but not eggs. Such is my life.
This is now the second time I’ve made this cake; last time it went so fast I didn’t get any pictures, and we almost suffered the same fate this time. Next time I’ll try and snap more pictures before the resident chocoholics get hold of the thing. Please don’t let the sad pictures (or the fact that it’s vegan) stop you from making this cake – it’s super easy, sinfully delicious, and probably the moistest chocolate cake you will ever eat in your life. Maybe it’s the weird ingredients (beer and vinegar? Really? ) or maybe those vegans do know something…nah, I’m sorry, I can’t go there.  Props to you if that’s your calling, but I can’t give up my meat, cheese and butter  quite yet.  Although… one cool side effect of this cake being vegan is that it’s also easy to make kosher pareve;  I do have friends that will appreciate that.  To keep this truly vegan (or pareve) just make sure your ingredients are also vegan / pareve; you’ll also need to skip this ganache, though that’s not necessarily a problem – this cake is delicious plain, or with a shake of powdered sugar.  You could also use a non-dairy milk (I’ve never done it but I’ve seen plenty of recipes out there) , or you could try using a buttercream that’s made with vegan or pareve margarine instead of butter (again, not something I have experience with…but go for it !) If real cream from real cows isn’t a problem for you…go for the ganache. I said this in the first recipe, but it bears repeating: while “chocolate ganache” sounds all fancy and pastry-chefish, in reality it’s just chopped up chocolate melted with heavy cream and beaten with a whisk until it’s silky, smooth and sexy.  That’s all there is to it. You do need to use bars or chunks of chocolate (chocolate chips are formulated differently than regular chocolate; they have less cocoa butter and more oil, and they don’t play as nicely with the cream in this particular application); whatever they sell in your supermarket in bar form will be fine (Ghirardelli is pretty widely available, and a damn fine baking chocolate. No, I don’t get paid to say that :) )

Oh, and I should have probably mentioned this in the beginning; if you’ve made it this far and the voices in your head are still saying things like “Beer in cake? EW!” or “but I don’t like Guinness!” politely tell them to go pound sand (or let them eat cake !) One of the reasons people like Guinness (and other stouts) so much is that it’s deep, dark, and - yes – chocolately. You’re basically just using that to your advantage here. And yes, most liquor stores will sell you one can or bottle of stout – although really, you should buy more. Stout is a beautiful thing!

Deep Dark Chocolate Stout Cake
(thanks to  A Whisk and a Spoon for the inspiration)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark is amazing here)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (10 oz) Guinness or other stout
1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee   
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a  9” nonstick round cake pan liberally with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment. 
Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In a separate large bowl mix together stout, coffee powder, vanilla and vinegar.  Stir into the flour mixture and start to mix it together, then add your oil and combine until you have a smooth batter (large whisk works well here). 
Pour into prepared pan.  Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Check with toothpick – it will still stick and look moist, but shouldn’t look like gobs of raw batter.  Remove from oven and let cool completely on rack, then turn out onto cake plate and peel off the parchment.
Dust cake with powdered sugar, or cover with ganache
Chocolate Ganache
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (will not work as well with chips)
½ cup heavy cream

Melt the chocolate and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle / spread over the top of cooled cake.