Jeremy’s Super Delicious Raw Chocolate Cake

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Behold! Jeremy Kuhn of Deliciosity frosting his raw chocolate cake. During our February Supper Club, Jeremy talked us through how to make the cake and demoed his lovely frosting…

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Raw Chocolate Cake
3 c. almonds
5 c. walnuts
2 c. dates
1 tsp. vanilla powder
1 ½ c. cacao powder
2 T. coconut sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Grind the almonds into a fine powder using a food processor. Transfer almond flour to another container. Coarsely grind walnuts. Overprocessing will release too much of the oils and eventually create a butter. Combine all ingredients in food processor, reserving the dates for last. The mixture should start to hold together. If it’s too crumbly still, add a few more dates.

Press the mixture into a 9×13 pan, lightly greased with coconut oil.
Refrigerate until ready to add frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
1 c. dates, soaked for at least an hour
2 avocados
½ c. date soak water
2/3 c. coconut sugar
¼ c. grapefruit juice
½ c. coconut oil
8oz. cacao butter ( ½ c. melted)
½ c. cacao powder
¼ c. carob powder
½ tsp. vanilla powder

Dissolve coconut sugar in grapefruit juice to create a syrup. Place jar of coconut oil in pot of hot water to melt the oil. Chop cacao butter and melt over double boiler. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Frosting will need to be placed in a refrigerator or freezer until set. This can be done before putting it on the cake, or after.

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Katie’s Gluten-free Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies

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The lovely Katie Williams (pictured above) brought these delicious cookies to our September Supper Club. Below, she demonstrates how she made them more healthy and vegan! It’s a great example of how easy it is to transition recipes. Thank you, Katie!

Katie’s Gluten-free Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies
Ingredients
• 1 1/4 cups almond meal
• 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used cacao nibs)
• 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
• 1/3 cup brown sugar (I used Raw Coconut Sugar)
• 1 egg (I used 1 Flax egg; 1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water)
• 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
• Handful of dried cranberries (optional)

Directions
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond meal, dark chocolate
chips, coconut, baking powder (raw coconut sugar), salt and sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg (flax egg) until uniform in color and
doubled in volume.
3. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla, then add to dry ingredients and
mix until just combined.
4. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or even overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheet with 1-1/2 inch
space in between each. Press down slightly to flatten a bit.
7. Bake until edges begin to brown, 7-10 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

Retreat Chocolate

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So, I needed one of those desserts that would help the organization holding an afternoon luncheon and work retreat at my house say–wow, I’m never usually this alert, imaginative and creative at 3:30! Think Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters coffee and something chocolate… maybe double chocolate. And throw in some sugar–and some dates, too, in case the sugar doesn’t do the trick.

Most of the time, I’m cooking for health, but this time it’s pure chocolate decadence. A feast day! (Lunch was super healthy… I’ll post about that tomorrow.)

One of my go-to books for this kind of treat is “Sweet Vegan” by Robin Asbell. I didn’t modify the recipe much, so I had my fingers crossed that it was on the web already and, yes indeedy, it is my lucky day–or yours, depending on how you feel about chocolate brownies. You have to go to page three of this article to get it, but it’s worth it.

You will be able to tell from my photo that I didn’t crush the pistachios and create a layer (I wanted to, but I did not have the time–plus someone was not into nuts in the group). I would definitely do that next time as I love pistachios. I also didn’t make the ganache topping (see aforementioned reason). There’s a ton of chocolate in this already. I don’t think it’s necessary, but it is a lovely touch.

And, when Robin called for a tablespoon of baking soda, I balked. I live in fear of my baked goods tasting like baking soda. I put in two scant teaspoons and they rose just fine. You have to make these far enough ahead so that you can cool them and chill them to cut them. But she recommends you serve them at room temperature.

The salty, dense, super-chocolatey treat went over very well!

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German Chocolate Cake

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Happy Vegan Month of Food! Let’s start with some cake.

This cake is so good and so easy.  There are a million recipes for the cake.  Those Depression-era recipe testers have given us great egg-less, dairy-free chocolate cakes.  I have lots of variations, but for the base of this cake, please refer to either this one given to me by friend, Caitlin,  Or this one that I modified from a recipe in Bon Appetit.

I love making this cake for birthdays–and it is also my birthday cake of choice.  I made it for our last supper club to celebrate friend Beth Leeson’s birthday, and I got several requests for the recipe.  After you make and bake your chocolate cake of choice, here’s the topping (which I have modified slightly) from the Chicago Diner cookbook to use less Earth Balance and more other ingredients than called for.  If you don’t have barley malt (which I didn’t recently), see the substitution below.

The big trick here is to quickly spread this on your cake.  It really does firm up quickly, so have everything ready.  You can use the chocolate frosting provided in Caitlin’s recipe on the outside of the cake, or you can choose to be more authentic and just use the coconut-pecan topping.  Either way it is delicious.

German Chocolate Cake Topping (adapted from Chicago Diner)

Ingredients
3 T soy margarine (or coconut oil)
1/2 cup Sucanat (or other raw sugar)
1/2 cup barley malt (or 1/3 cup brown rice syrup and 1/4 cup molasses)
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2 eight (or nine) inch chocolate layer cakes, cooled

Directions:
In an iron pan, dry toast the coconut by placing it in the pan and stirring over medium heat. Stay around and watch it. When it begins to turn brown and you smell a nice nutty aroma, remove from pan and set aside.
Melt margarine in a small heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add sugar and barley malt and stir until incorporated and sugar is melted.
Add other ingredients and stir until well mixed. Divide in half and smooth half over each cake layer. Start by mounding in the middle and spreading outward. This requires a delicate touch so you don’t tear your cake, but it’s the only challenging part. You can do it! Especially for this delicious result.

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Thank you, Chicago Diner! We love you!

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Springtime in May!

During that brief hot spell (between snow and freezing rain), we had a beautiful night for our May supper club. Our special guest was Bea Jokusch, owner of Baked by B. Her authentic pretzel rolls and bread speak for themselves. Delicious and affordable, you you can order by emailing her at jockusch@comcast.net or calling 676-8752.

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Everyone was interested to hear about my trip to New York with my literacy project Wireman.  You can see wonderful (short!) videos of kids and teachers on my youtube channel.

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While in New York, I ate at 3 well-established and famous-for-their-delicious vegan food restaurants: Candle 79, Blossom NYC and Angelica’s Kitchen. While there I sampled dishes like the Morrocan-spiced chickpea cake at Candle 79. It was served on a bed of sauteed kale, broccoli, onions and jalapenos with a red pepper coconut curry sauce and date-apricot-ginger chutney and sprinkled with toasted almonds. It was good–no doubt about it–but it wasn’t more flavorful than entrees like Dave Ogren’s roasted vegetable and chickpea patties with cucumber mango relish and coconut curry sauce.

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Or Melissa’s Hot & Cold Thai Salad or my spicy black bean cakes with guajillo rojo sauce, roasted tomatillos and cilantro-lime sour cream.

May supper club 007And that’s just for starters, we had delicious roasted vegetables, homemade bread…well, here’s the rest of the photo gallery–we’re saving the desserts for last!

May supper club 022Above K.C.’s roasted veggies, below Nancy’s amazing sweet potato salad.

May supper club 021My mizuna salad, adapted from this one in the NYTimes (a little smoked paprika and jicama stood in for the smoked turkey)

May supper club 013Marilyn’s Herb Vegetable and Orzo Salad

May supper club 020And Shawn’s fried green tomatoes–stop!

May supper club 023I don’t have lovely pics of the garlic sauce, the arugula pesto, the bok choy salad, the double pea stew or the marinated salad.  It was such a bounty.  Thank you everyone.  Please note that there are simple and elaborate dishes.  The most inventive dish (he always wins!) went to Geoff Fields who, admittedly, had to handsell his Thai tasting vinegar.  Geoff made a rhubarb, grapefruit, lemon and mint simple syrup infusion and paired it with balsamic vinegar.  What a palate cleanser. Plus, it looked just like a glass of red wine!

May supper club 037And we needed to cleanse our palates for the amazing array of desserts.  Fortunately, for all of you I have recipes or links to many of these.

First up, Christina’s ginger-spice cupcakes, made famous by Chloe Coscarelli, the first vegan baker to win Cupcake Wars.May supper club 027Here’s Christina with her husband, Dave.

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Vegan Banana Bread made for us by Liddy and Ruth’s Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

May supper club 030Here are Ruth and Terry.  It was their first time at the supper club!

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Kris Siegel brought her son Bennett and this lovely chocolate cake.  Find the recipe at the end of the post.*

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Last but not least, here are Cindy’s beautiful mini banana splits

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Because it was spring! some of us opted to sit outside…

May supper club 046Melissa and I took the opportunity to snap some photos.

May supper club 045 sp2Appreciative diners, Ryan and Dorothy.

May supper club 050And clean-up helpers spearheaded by Molly made the evening fly by.

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We hope you will be encouraged to join us if you, too, are interested in healthy (and sometimes indulgent) plant-based food, good conversation and nice people!

We’re especially hoping to see Marie Catrib as our special guest next month.  As you may have noticed from last month’s post, Marie cooks a lot of our dishes….

shoes and name cards 003But she never gets to sit down and enjoy herself. So we made her a big invitation and are hoping–fingers crossed–she can come with some of her staff to be served by us. Even if she’s not able to come, we wanted her to know how much we appreciate her food.  Thank you, Marie!

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Last but not least, thanks to Melissa and Marilyn for helping me with the photos and a big thank you to Christine who supplied us with re-usable name badges!

*Deep Chocolate Vegan Cake & Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
(with Kris’s notes in parentheses)

Chocolate Cake: (This recipe makes an 8” square cake-not nearly enough, in my opinion. Double it to make a 2 layer cake, or a 9”x 13”)
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
½ c. canola oil
1 c. cold coffee (or water)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. cider vinegar
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting: (I tripled this recipe to frost 2 layer cake & had some frosting left over.)
1/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
¼ c. smooth peanut butter
3-4 T. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
Directions for Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour your baking pans.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine oil, coffee or water, and vanilla. Pour liquid into dry, and mix until smooth. Add vinegar and stir briefly. Pour into prepared pan(s).
3. Bake 25-30 minutes.
Directions for Frosting:
1. In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips over medium-low heat. Beat together peanut butter, water, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, add melted chocolate, mixing until blended. (My frosting was too thick, so I added a few tablespoons of soy creamer.)
2. Spread frosting onto cooled cake.

Bon Appetit Cake Goes Vegan!

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For a girl who has a healthy eating blog, I sure do fancy chocolate cake recipes. I have this philosophy that my cakes aren’t exactly health food, but they’re so much healthier than other–yes, even vegan–versions. So if you want a little indulgence, start here. My latest creation is a vegan version of Bon Appetit’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Fun Cake.

The cake wasn’t too hard since it was already vegan and similar to other cakes I’ve made. I modified it by using full-fat cocoa powder from Penzey’s and coffee instead of water. Coffee in a chocolate cake makes it just that more chocolate-y.

One More Chocolate Cake Recipe
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (full fat if you can get it)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup coffee (I use decaf, but really good stuff from Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters)–or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (if you’re gonna make if vegan, check the ingredient list for milkfat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8 X 8 pan and put parchment paper in the bottom (to make your life easier, of course). Whisk dry ingredients together. In a 2 cup measure, whisk wet ingredients together. Don’t combine wet with dry until your pan is ready and the oven is preheated. In this story, the dry and the wet have chemistry and you don’t want them making out on your counter, but in the oven so the cake rises. When everything is ready, mix the ingredients together until just combined, pour into your pan and slip the pan into the oven. It will take 35-40 minutes to bake. I never got the hang of sticking a toothpick in the middle. They always come out with stuff on them. I like to gently touch the top of the cake. If it feels firm to the touch and the cake is coming away from the sides of the pan (even a little), it is probably done.

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Here’s where I get all proud. The mousse in the Bon Appetit recipe comes from egg whites. And so many vegan versions of this use tons of Earth Balance and Spectrum Spread (the health-food version of Crisco). Yukky! Here’s what I did and it tastes as good as it looks. Maple syrup balances the beaniness of tofu. Trust me. No one will know if you do this right.

Peanut Butter Mousse

1 box extra firm tofu
2 T maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup smooth 100% peanut butter (no Jif, people!)
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted

Put all ingredients except coconut oil in your blender and blend until completely smooth. Add coconut oil through blender hole in a thin stream (you are running the blender). Transfer this peanut butter pudding to the refrigerator to chill while the cake cools and you prepare your toppings.

Chop 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts and 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate. Once the cake has completely cooled, invert it onto a platter. I cut this into wedges and you can see how pretty it is. The mousse is very well-behaved, light and fluffy. The whole cake kept very well in the fridge for several days on a cake plate. It did not dry out. I’ve been doing Kris Carr’s Adventure cleanse (no gluten, no sugar, la la) or I wouldn’t know this.

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I’m already thinking about giving this hot little number a makeover with some crushed chocolate cookies and the mousse with its toppings in a martini glass.

Out of this world–chocolate chocolate chip cookies & a free class

Kris Siegel is a local librarian for KDL who loves to bake. That’s why she offered to leave her cookies at the supper club when she had to take off early. I was pretty excited at the prospect of having a few cookies around the house, but when I checked a half hour later, they were all gone! This was a ‘most-requested recipe.’ Thank you, Kris, for writing it up for us.

In addition, Kris is teaching a free class on veganism at three local libraries. Here are the details.

Vegan in Grand Rapids – What? Why? How?
“Curious about the vegan diet? Explore what it means to exclude meat, eggs, dairy, and animal-derived ingredients, why people eat this way, and how to shop, cook, and dine out as a vegan in Grand Rapids.” Kris plans to keep students happy by bringing food samples. Um, maybe I should repeat that. Food Samples!

The schedule: Walker Public Library on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 pm; Alpine Township Public Library on Wednesday, October 17 at 6:30 pm; and Comstock Park Public Library on Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 pm

This is a great opportunity to go and ask questions–baking and otherwise–to explore this way of cooking and living.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
This recipe is adapted from the one in Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. It’s one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. Here goes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
4 tsp. ground flaxseeds
½ cup soy milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vegan semisweet choc. chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
2. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the oil and sugars. Add the flaxseeds, soymilk, and vanilla, and mix well.
3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Add chocolate chips and walnuts. Don’t over mix.
4. Drop teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for a few moments before you remove them to a wire rack.

Tip from cookbook: If you don’t have flaxseeds, you can leave them out. The cookies will be a bit less chewy but still yummy! (I never tried this)

Variations:
White Chocolate Chip-Cherry-Chocolate Cookies: Replace the choc. chips with white choc. chips and replace the walnuts with dried cherries.
Orange-Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Omit the walnuts. Add 3 tsp. of finely grated orange zest to the liquid ingreds.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies: Omit the choc. chips. Replace ¼ cup of the soy milk with hazelnut liqueur. Replace the walnuts with chopped, toasted hazelnuts.

Here they are close up!