Saturday, 30 May 2009

Quadruple Layer Chocolate Cake

quadruple layer chocolate cake
vegan chocolate cake
So, here we are with another sweet baked good....but, I did have a good excuse this time as it was my husband's birthday on friday :) I was planning on making something quite different (which I won't mention now in case I ever get around to it!) but couldn't do as tofutti cream cheese is getting hard to find - there's a little hint for you! Anyway, decided to just make the chocolate wacky cake again as it's so good, but, decided to go a little more decadent and make it four layers with a very yum chocolate 'butter'cream. It turned out very good, these aren't the best pics but the cake is so moist and light against the rich, fluffy buttercream. I was also thinking of drizzling a ganache all over the top of this but then calmed down and regained my senses! They aren't in the photos but I served this with fresh strawberries which went so well with it.

Chocolate Cake: Best to make these the day before.
375g plain flour
300g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
60g cocoa powder, I used bourneville - sifted
3 tsp vanilla extract
160ml vegetable oil
2 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
480ml cold water

Grease and line two 7 or 8 inch round cake pans - set aside. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Combine all dry ingredients and whisk well. Combine all wet ingredients and whisk well. Pour the wet into the dry and gently whisk until just combined. Pour evenly into the two pans and place in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick, it should come out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it - mine needed 35 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool but leave them in the pans, they will split while cooling if you remove them. When cool remove from the pans, wrap firmly in cling film (again to prevent splitting) and place in the fridge overnight, this will help prevent splitting and will make slicing the layers easier.

Chocolate 'Butter'cream:
500g icing sugar
125g vegan margarine
90g dark chocolate, at least 70%, melted and slightly cooled
2 Tbsp oat or soy cream, slightly warmed

Cream the margarine and sugar in a stand mixer, when it starts getting dry add the chocolate and quickly mix until incorporated. Add cream in stages until you get a nice, thick but spreadable frosting.

Remove the cakes from the fridge and place on a cutting board. Using a long, thin serrated knife slowly and carefully cut the cakes in half. It really isn't as hard as it sounds as long as you go slow and keep turning the cakes, don't worry about cutting the centre until you've worked around the edges. Place the top layer, top side down on to your serving plate and spread with some of the frosting. Place the other cut layer bottom side up on top and frost this. Repeat with the other cut layers and then frost the top with the remaining frosting. Serve with fresh strawberries.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Trillionaire's Shortbread

trillionaire's shortbread
No, not millionaire's shortbread this is trillionaire's, as it's that much richer you see ;) I've been wanting to experiment with this since making Veganomicon's Smlove Pie . While I thought the pie was very yummy I was most impressed with the peanut butter caramel and maple candied pecan topping. I wasn't sure if it really went with the chocolate tofu base as they kind of overpowered it and kept thinking they would make a great bar cookie with a shortbread base, like millionaire's shortbread.

I just used my shortbread recipe from the cinnamon toast cookies then followed the recipe for the caramel and pecans. They are very good but I'm still not 100% happy with my cookie recipe, it's nice and light and crumbly but the taste isn't as good as could be. I think it just needs some more sugar, next time I would add 75g and some vanilla extract, I think that would solve it.

Only other change I would make is the pecan topping, I was trying to be too fancy laying them out in rows where really you want a bite of pecan everywhere so next time would chop them up and sprinkle all over, or even chop them and stir them into the caramel.... either way they are yum and fantastic with a cup of coffee!

You'll need to make the pecans first:

Maple Candied Pecans: (this makes more than you need but they are fab to snack on!)
110g pecans (1 cup)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Cover a large baking sheet with baking paper. Add pecans to a saucepan over medium heat and stir frequently for 3 minutes. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes more - be very careful not to burn them, I didn't go the full extra 2 minutes there. Add the oil and salt and cook for 1 minute, stir constantly. Add the maple syrup and stir until the mixture is mostly dry. Transfer to the baking paper and let cool. As they are cooling break separate them with your hands. They should cool crisp and glossy and not be tacky.

110g vegan margarine
50g caster sugar (I will use 75g next time)
2 Tbsp cornflour
135g plain flour
pinch salt
*1/2 tsp vanilla* - not in original recipe but would be nice

Beat the marg and sugar together until creamy, beat in vanilla if using. Stir in the cornflour, then stir in the flour and salt. Press into a 8" square non-stick pan and place in the fridge for 1 hour. Preheat oven to a low 140C, prick all over with a fork and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden and edges start to pull away. Set aside to cool.

Peanut Butter Caramel:
1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup

Place all in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until all smooth and thickened, it should fall like ribbons from a fork. Pour over the base and spread out with a spatula. Gently press the pecans into the caramel, either whole or chopped and leave out till the caramel sets.

Chocolate Drizzle:
50g dark chocolate

Melt in microwave and drizzle over! I used a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Nacho Quesadilla

vegan quesadilla
Yes, I do love my cheezly....I didn't really want to do too many posts requiring specific ingredients that a lot of people probably can't buy, like this nacho flavour cheezly. However, any vegan cheese could be used here, I usually just use the super melting edam or mozza anyway. This one isn't super melting but doesn't matter - it melts beautifully. When I first got it I made nachos with it prepared to put up with un-melted cheeze on top but it did indeed melt and made very good nachos.....which got me thinking about making a nacho flavoured quesadilla. I love quesadilla's and would have them quite often in my dairy eating days, so glad cheezly works in these! No hard and fast recipe here and of course you can put whatever you like in a quesadilla but the nacho flavours work really well.

1 large wrap (I find using 2 wraps makes just too much, although I know that's more traditional!)
1/2 avocado, mashed
40g nacho flavour cheezly, grated
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
10g black olives
vegan sour cream to serve - also serve with salsa, I added extra chillies in mine to make it spicier so I wouldn't need salsa as I've recently discovered just how much salt is in those jars - shocking!

Place the wrap on a non-stick frying pan and spread half with the avocado, top with everything else then heat up the pan. When the wrap is warm and softer fold over and cook until both sides are golden, crisp and the cheeze is melted. Cut into triangles and serve with sour cream and salsa.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Bryant Terry's Banana-Maple Pecan Cornbread Muffins

Well, you knew I couldn't stay away for long! Like I mentioned below I have been very eager to try things from my new cookbook, Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. Naturally I was drawn to one of the sweet, bakery items in the book - these fantastic Banana-Maple Pecan Cornbread Muffins. Everything in this cookbook is very healthy, no white sugar or bad fats and a direction I could certainly start going down!

They turned out beautifully and while I am certainly used to my muffins being much sweeter than these I didn't miss it at all. They get their sweetness from just 2 Tbsp raw cane sugar and maple syrup plus the ripe banana - then you get a nice hit from the maple glazed pecans. Lovely. I'll post the recipe I used here, not exactly the cookbook version as I had to make a few changes. First I can't buy whole wheat pastry flour here, which it called for 1/4 cup, and second his pecans were 'double maple glazed' - first with maple syrup and then with maple sugar, a LOT of maple sugar. Now, the only place I can get maple sugar is in Brighton, it's a small bag and costs like 6 quid, meaning I treat that stuff like the granulated gold that it is. So... I used the maple glazed pecans recipe from Veganomicon's Smlove Pie that I posted earlier. Turned out just fine.

Muffins: (recipe was for 24 mini muffins but I don't have that size tin, these are 12 regular)
165g cornmeal
3 Tbsp unrefined corn oil
3/4 cup plain flour
2 Tbsp demerara sugar (raw cane)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
190g banana (about)
240ml rice milk (unflavoured)
2 Tbsp maple syrup

For the Maple Glazed Pecans:
110g raw pecans
2 tsp canola oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt

First make the maple glazed pecans. Set aside a sheet of baking paper. In a saucepan over medium heat lightly toast the pecans for a couple minutes. Stir constantly for a couple minutes more until lightly toasty -careful not to burn. Turn heat down and add the oil and salt, stir for about a minute more. Add the maple syrup and stir constantly - it will bubble up then get dry. Tip onto some baking paper and spread out with a spatula. Leave to cool, as it's cooling, break the pecans up with your hands. Set aside.

For the muffins, grease 12 muffin tin holes with some of the corn oil and set aside. Heat the oven to 220C. In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and whisk well. In a blender add the banana, maple syrup, rice milk and remaining corn oil and blend until smooth. Place the tin in the oven for 5 minutes to get the oil really hot. When there is 1 minute remaining stir the wet into the dry gently - do not over mix, then fold in the nuts. Spoon batter into the tins 3/4 full and bake for 13 minutes or until golden on top and well risen.

He then states to serve immediately and they certainly are good fresh from the oven!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Still here!!

Just wanted to let you all know I'm still around. I ended up in hospital for 2 weeks - I have lupus which is largely under control but now and again it flares up. So if I'm ever not blogging for long periods of time it's probably because I'm in hospital again enjoying the 'vegan' food. This time they gave me egg salad, cream of mushroom soup, a tuna fish sandwich and even offered me oxtail soup! The worst was when I asked for soy milk on my cereal, I could see it on the trolley and they gave me cows milk. For some reason (I blame the medication) I couldn't tell it was milk until I was near the end, then ended up so sick they had to inject anti nausea medication into my butt - nice.

Anyway, I did have some very good meals too, it wasn't all bad and I am on the mend but still very weak so it may be awhile before I'm blogging again. When I do be sure to expect lots of entries from the new vegan cookbook I got - Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African American Cuisine by Bryant Terry . It was featured on Heidi Swanson's blog and I had to get it right away. Can't wait to start trying things, it looks amazing and I think it will become a favorite. Love it when new vegan cookbooks come out!!