Tuesday, 20 May 2008

mexican chocolate cake

Even though chocolate cake is not a traditional Mexican pastry, somehow over time, the addition of cinnamon, perhaps orange zest and maybe a little cayenne pepper seems to give a whole new cultural aspect to just plain old chocolate cake, thus deeming it, Mexican chocolate cake. I'm completely fine with this evolution of chocolate cake and intend to go with the flow on this one. However, I will hold true to the tradition of adding less sugar and incorporating more whole, unbleached, grains like in traditional Mexican baking. Speaking of Mexican pastries- if you live in Nashville I suggest taking a trip to the South side and having coffee and dessert in Aurora bakery on Nolensville Rd. There is not a crumb of chocolate cake, but their tres leches (with rum) will knock your socks off. Get their early for the best selection of freshest and finest treats.

Chocolate cake has made many appearances in my life over the past few weeks. Given my most recent sugar fast- I don't always indulge, or can only eat a small amount, but nevertheless chocolate cake and I are turning into inseparable entities. So when a Mexican themed party arose, I didn't have to think twice about my contribution to the pot-luck. Chocolate cake is just one of those things that almost everyone loves- and looks as though you went to tons of trouble to make it from scratch, when in reality it's extremely easy. I recently hosted a pot-luck themed, 'last supper', meaning, bring what you would want your last meal to be. Hush, it's not morbid or religious, it's fun. We had chocolate cake, brownies and chocolate chocolate chip cookies. This was neither pre-determined nor assigned; this is what people truly wanted to eat as their last meal. Chocolate beat out cheese, potatoes, crab cakes, pasta, bread and many other indulgent foods. There is something extremely decadent about chocolate cake- is it the color, perhaps? Its repuation and stereotype? For me it's the association factor; the fact that chocolate cake is linked to so many fond memories and simply making a chocolate cake can evoke the senses to take me to that moment or can create a new, wonderful moment in time. Yeah, that's how much of a nerd, I mean, chocolate lover I am.

This cake is so easy you can throw it together for breakfast! I'm not kidding. It comes together like a muffin batter and comes out in a cute little 8- 9 inch pan of goodness. I followed a recipe I found vegcooking.com and also on yeahthatveganshit.blogspot.com. They are the same recipes however I used less oil, a real vanilla bean in place of extract, more spices (and a pinch of salt) and substituted almond milk in place of the water and agave nectar for cane sugar. But let's get real, it's just chocolate cake with some spices thrown in- and a little love if you’ve got it. And, it's healthier than most chocolate cakes on the block so it seems extravagant and indulgent but is somewhat kind to your body. So you can....ummm, must. not…... say.....have your cake and eat it too?? Sorry. Had to.

What you will need:
2 mixing bowls
8-9 inch cake pan
Wooden spoon

Dry Ingredients:
1 ½ C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 T coco powder
1 (very generous) tsp cinnamon
1 (not so generous) tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Liquid Ingredients:
1 C agave nectar
1 C water or vegan milk of choice
3 T neutral tasting vegetable oil
1 T white or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extra or seeds of 1 vanilla bean

To assemble:

Pre-head oven to 350 degrees and grease your cake pan with a bit of oil

Completely combine the dry ingredients in one bowl

Thoroughly whisk all the wet ingredients together in the other bowl

Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix until just combined. Over mixing will make your cake chewy and tough so resist the urge to make all those little flour pockets disappear. I promise they will go away while it’s baking

Bake for 30-35 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and at least a couple of hours on a baking rack.
*I got impatient and put mine on a plate well before it had cooled and it fell a bit in the middle, which I don’t mind, but you might. It’s a delicate cake because it does not have the ever so lovely binders and leaveners (eggs and such) to make all those little molecules stick together- thus, leaving you with a slightly crumbly, lighter textured cake.

Top with powdered sugar, fruit, (edible) flowers or your favorite chocolate sauce

Serves 8-10

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