Category Archives: Baking

The Best Chocolate Cake You’ll Ever Eat

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This is the only chocolate cake recipe you’ll ever need.  Here’s what I love about it:

  • It’s the moistest, fudgiest, and softest chocolate cake you’ll ever eat.
  • It only takes one bowl! What is better than that?! Separating wet and dry is the worst.
  • This cake is fool-proof.  I’ve made it dozens of times, both gluten-full and gluten-free, and it comes out amazing every time.
  • It’s vegan by nature! Meaning you don’t have to do any substitutions for eggs or butter, like in other vegan recipes.
  • People who have eaten it have told me that this is the best cake they’ve ever had…vegan or not vegan.  You need to try this.


Here’s how I found it. 

A few years ago, my sister went to the Humane Society of the United States Conference in DC for a few days.  She heard amazing people speak and came back with a bunch of free samples, pamphlets, and information.  One pamphlet she passed my way had this cake recipe on it.  

HSUS created this recipe and I’ve adapted it.

Top it with your favorite frosting (I’ve played around with everything from peanut butter to mocha to super chocolate) and have at it!  I promise this cake won’t last long.

Yield: 12 cupcakes, 2 6″ round pans, 1 9″ round pan

Ingredients:

  • Cake pans
  • Earth Balance and flour for pans
  • 1 1/4 c. flour (same amount for gluten-free, plus 1 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Then, add the wet ingredients to the large bowl and mix until combined.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

 

 

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Changing Lives…One Carnival at a Time.

Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to sell my baked goods at a carnival.  My dad is the parish manager at his church, Sts. Peter and Paul in Mt. Vernon, and they were holding their annual church carnival.  They had all the typical carnival fare: rides, cotton candy, funnel cake, and…my booth!

Got my own banner and everything!

Got my own banner and everything!

In preparation for the four days of carnival fun, I feverishly baked my butt(er) off! For the first night, I made my famous chocolate peanut butter squares,

My famous chocolate peanut butter squares

you gotta try these.

apple hand pies, pumpkin bread slices, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I sold out of the peanut butter squares on the first night.  In fact, I think I ended up making peanut butter pie each day prior to showing at the booth!

Apple hand pies...Made with freshly picked apples  from the orchard!

Apple hand pies…Made with freshly picked apples from the orchard!

Other nights included gluten free-super-fudgy-brownies, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, mini apple pies, and gluten free snickerdoodles.

Gluten free brownies...the fudgiest brownies you'll ever taste.

Gluten free brownies…the fudgiest brownies you’ll ever taste.

Gluten free snickerdoodles...so amazing.

Gluten free snickerdoodles…so amazing.

How cute are these??

How cute are these??

 

It was a great experience.  I got to chat with people who were dairy-free themselves, and we commiserated on the lack of dessert options in our neighborhood.  It was also pretty cool seeing how excited they got that I could provide exactly what they were looking for.

The most interesting part of the four days was the many conversations I had with people, trying to convince them that my dairy-free desserts tasted exactly the same as full milk, full butter treats (and they really do, seriously).  I even provided samples most days, and there were lots of surprised looks.

Some people really could not understand why anyone would want to be dairy or allergy free. That boggled my mind.  I know there are people out there who cannot tolerate certain foods.  However, I think that some of those people eat them anyway!  In the past when I’ve talked to people (colleagues, friends, etc.) about my dairy intolerance, I occasionally get the response, “yeah, I can’t really eat dairy.  But I could never cut out cheese or ice cream.”

One gentleman in particular refused to believe that my vegan peanut butter squares tasted good. (He also misread the sign I put there, thinking that ‘vegan’ meant ‘veggie’.  Veggie peanut butter squares? Ok, that’s not too appetizing, but learn how to read, dude.)

You tell him, Michelle.

You tell him, Michelle.

I eventually convinced him to buy a brownie, and he walked away before I could see his first bite.  I think it’s just interesting that outside the big city, people are still a little behind on the allergy-free baking.

Overall, the carnival was a success.  I made some money,  got my name out there, and maybe opened some eyes on a whole healthier way to eat dessert.

Blogging about a Blog…Am I getting too meta?

Okay, so I’ve been slacking.

My last blog post was in August.  Today is the third day of October. Yikes.

I wish.

I wish.

…But I’ve been busy!  In the last two months I’ve gotten back to the daily grind of teaching 11th grade English, filled Etsy and other customer orders, had a booth for four days at a carnival where I got to showcase my dairy free delicacies, (more about that later), and then quickly caught a cold!  So, I have a lot to share with you.  Let me work backwards in chronological order.

Today, my Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie was reviewed on a blog called “Confessions of a Northern Belle” .  Let me pause there for a second.

MY pie. Got reviewed.  By a blogger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that’s right.  Now it’s not just my family members who think my stuff is tasty. Other people, whom I’ve never met, like my treats, too!

It all happened by surprise, actually.  “Confessions” author, Caitlin, found me randomly on Etsy.  She recently became dairy free and was looking to see if any desserts could satisfy her sweet tooth while not causing a stir in her stomach.  I was happy to oblige, and promptly sent her a peanut butter pie.

Remember these bad boys?

Remember these bad boys?

She and her husband loved it, and like most people who try my stuff, could not believe it was dairy-free! You should definitely check out the review, and her blog.

Here’s the review in full: http://www.confessionsofanorthernbelle.com/2014/10/goodness-cakes-dairy-free-pie/

Getting Ready for Fall

Okay, I know, I know, it’s only the first day of August.

And there’s still a lot of vacation time before school starts back up again where I’ll be lost in the abyss of grading papers, dealing with students, and planning out lessons.

I'm pretty sure I've said this A LOT

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this A LOT.

 

However, recently I sold an order of vegan pumpkin donuts through my Etsy shop, and had leftover pumpkin puree that I didn’t want to go to waste.  My mom wanted some sort of baked dessert for a mid-afternoon meeting she was going to have, so I decided to use the rest of the puree so my ingredients wouldn’t spoil.

I was already making her coffee cake muffins (see my last post) so I didn’t want to make her donut muffins as well…I have this thing about needing to present treats in different shapes/forms, especially if they are in the same order.  So I decided to take my recently discovered vegan sugar free pumpkin donut recipe and play around with it.

I made the batter.  I could have used my donut pan and made actual donuts, but it only makes 6 donuts at a time.  That means to make a full dozen, I have to make 6, wait for them to cook, then take them out of the pan and make the second batch.  I’m exhausted just typing that out.  Why not just get another donut pan? Because I’m lazy and cheap and don’t make donuts that often…well, I guess I do now.

They learned their laziness from me

They learned their laziness from me.

 

Okay, so I made the batter.  Instead of making muffins, I decided to try it in a loaf pan.  Batter is batter, right? So it should be fine. Right?

The dough did not really rise.  It kind of just sat in the loaf pan.  It took a lot longer to bake, also, and I was worried it was going to stay raw on the inside.  (I also made this at 6 in the morning, so half the time I was delirious with sleep, running back and forth from the oven to the couch, allowing myself 10 more minutes of rest each time I checked the oven).

Finally, out it came.  I quickly made a cinnamon spice glaze to go over this dessert which I am now calling Pumpkin Pie Cake.  It was dense and thick like vegan desserts sometimes are, with a very concentrated maple pumpkin taste. It wasn’t light or fluffy like a cake would be. I would say it was more like a brownie, kinda fudgy.  The glaze really saved it-I mixed powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little bit of coconut milk and put it in the fridge to harden a bit. It soaked into the cake and gave it a great fall flavor.

Here’s how it turned out:

vegan pumpkin pie cake

Looks like meatloaf…tastes like cake!

Close up of that cinnamon glaze. mmmm finger lickin' good

Close up of that cinnamon glaze. mmmm finger lickin’ good

 

Everyone said it was delicious, and it was pretty tasty.  It really reminded me of fall, and once I sliced it, it looked even  more appealing.  Though I think it bore  a serious resemblance to meatloaf, it is a vegan pumpkin cake that I would definitely make again.

Aren't you just ready for fall?

Aren’t you just ready for fall?

Just Mayo-Just a Perfect Egg Replacer

You did not read that title incorrectly.  I meant it- Just Mayo, Hampton Creek’s completely cholesterol free (and vegan, btw) mayonnaise, is a delicious egg replacer.  (plus I think their logo is super cute)

It's a plant in the egg instead of a chick...because it's made from plants!

It’s a plant in the egg…because it’s made from plants! Get it?

Now you might be saying: hold up.  Why in the world would you ever use mayonnaise instead of eggs?

 

Well, let me tell you.

 

Boyf’s brother, Clip, has been working for Hampton Creek for a little less than a year now and has been boasting of this mayo since he began.  Being vegan, Clip talked of Just Mayo’s delicious taste, its health benefits, and its popularity. He is a top seller of Just Mayo, and can get vegans and non-vegans alike to love this product.  (Okay, shameless plug over).

Recently, Clip gave me a few jars to try.  In addition to their regular tangy mayo flavor, Just Mayo also makes Chipotle, Garlic, and Sriracha flavors, which I have yet to taste.

This is my fridge right now, plus some giant containers.

This is my fridge right now, plus some giant containers.

I quickly found myself with an excess of mayonnaise.  Now there’s a sentence I never wanted to utter.  (I’m not huge on condiments…I HATE ketchup.) Coincidentally, my mom was ordering some sort of breakfast item for a morning meeting she was having at her office, and I was out of eggs.

Clip and his gf told me that they had made cake with Just Mayo as an egg replacer, but hadn’t ventured out into any other type of baked goods. In their experience, the mayo made the cake super moist, but a bit oily.  Just Mayo’s website also offers a chocolate cake recipe, but no other baked items.  I was determined to experiment.

So I put two and two together…and made coffee cake muffins with Just Mayo instead of eggs! I googled the ratio of mayo to egg and found that 3 tablespoons of mayo can substitute one egg.  (I’m not sure who discovered that, but pretty cool).

I used Mark Bittman’s recipe for coffee cake muffins.  The best part was making the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter mixture and mixing that INTO the batter as well as putting it on top of the muffin.  Mmm. I love Bittman.  Never been disappointed with any of his recipes.

Doesn't this guy look like he knows about food??!

Doesn’t this guy look like he knows about food??!

The batter looked whipped almost, like mousse.  Chocolate mayonnaise mousse.

The result?  Delicious, dense, tangy vegan coffee cake muffins. The mayo worked like a charm, binding the batter and producing a muffin that was not too heavy (like I often find vegan muffins to be).  I’m not sure if telling non-vegans the secret ingredient is appetizing, so I’m keeping it a secret.  Knowing that the mayo was there, I could definitely taste the tang from the vinegar, but still delish.

Just look at the inside of that muffin. So moist, so delicious.

Just look at the inside of that muffin. So moist, so delicious.

vegan coffee cake muffins

Close up of that brown sugar/butter/cinnamon topping. mmmm

Vegan coffee cake muffins

Here they are all on the counter.

Have you ever made anything with mayo? Share your story!

 

The Vegan Scone Adventure

Last week, my mom ordered a dozen scones for a morning work meeting she was holding at her office. I was excited, as I hadn’t tried scones before, and was determined to make them vegan.  I wanted to see if it could be done.

Almost everything I read about scones says that the fat in the batter is really important, and that’s why most scones use heavy cream, buttermilk, milk or cream, you know, loads and loads of dairy that would leave me sick for days.  Scones are known for their rich, buttery taste and fluffy, flaky texture, something you usually only obtain from real, fatty butter.

I always stayed away from scones, never attempting them because I knew that it would be hard to achieve the texture everyone knows and loves with dairy substitutes.

But I was curious.  So I looked online for some recipes, and found this one that uses coconut cream.  I was intrigued-I know coconut cream has the ability to whip like whipped cream, which is the same thing that heavy cream does, so it had to be the same, right?

I tried the recipe.  The ingredient list called for canned coconut milk (cold).  I found the coconut milk at my local fruit and vegetable mart, but for some reason, did not pay attention to the little parentheses telling me to refrigerate the can.

Thinking nothing of it, I made the batter with the room temperature coconut milk, and it looked nothing like the picture on the blog.  The batter itself was tasty, but definitely not thick enough to mold and form into a loaf like the recipe instructed. It was soft almost like a cake batter.

At this point, there was no turning back.

Here was the result.

Here's the recipe's version...

Here’s the recipe’s version…

 

vegan scones

..and here’s mine. womp womp.

photo 3

More like a breakfast cookie than a scone.  The texture was soft and chewy like a cookie, but it tasted more like a scone.  Stumped, I went to boyf and asked his opinion.

Instantly, he realized I had not used cold coconut milk.  “Oh, well, there’s your problem.  Coconut milk reacts very differently when it’s cold.”

oh.

duh.

 

So I rapidly chilled my coconut milk in the freezer.  Have you ever done the trick of wrapping a wet paper towel around the can and sticking it in the back of the freezer?

The second batch was better; the batter was thicker in consistency for sure.  However, it still was too wet to be molded like the original recipe.  I added a bunch of flour to the batter to try and thicken it up.

The result was more like a scone, but I guess I would call it more like a cake.

I mean, this LOOKS more like a scone, right?

I mean, this LOOKS more like a scone, right?

Maybe the coconut wasn’t cold enough? That’s my only guess.  Is it really just about having full fat and eggs to hold it all together?

The breakfast cookies and “scones” were delish, but not what I was expecting.  Unfortunately, I think that is a common theme with my vegan baking.

What do you think? Ever attempted scones? Leave me a comment below!

Working my butt(er) off

In my last post, I wrote about how I made 5 desserts in 4 days.  I didn’t write, however, about how I proceeded to eat those desserts every day in the last week.

A few days ago, I was asked to make a peanut butter chocolate dessert for my mom’s co-worker.  So I made THE peanut butter chocolate dessert: peanut butter chocolate squares with a graham cracker crust.

I mean...come on.

I mean…come on.

I did some research online and found this Buzzfeed article chronicling the most amazing peanut butter desserts on the internet.  That led me to the peanut butter squares.

I can't resist. Must. eat. now.

I can’t resist. Must. eat. now.

Naturally, I wanted to make sure that the recipe would be successful, so I just HAD to make myself a batch as well…in the form of a frozen peanut butter pie.

...and it's vegan, too!

…and it’s vegan, too!

You know, for quality assurance purposes.

He knows what I'm talking about

He knows what I’m talking about

The results were delicious, (though the crust did not stay together as much as I wanted it to; maybe more butter is needed next time) and the pie was rich and filling.  So boyf and I ate some, and then we ate some more.  And then after the third or fourth day of eating peanut butter pie, I had sufficiently broken out with a few blemishes and stuffed to the brim with desserts. I felt gross, fat, and sluggish, though I was happily stuffing my face night after night.

I felt like Miranda from Sex and the City.  You know that episode where she makes a chocolate cake and proceeds to eat the ENTIRE thing? At one point she even throws it out! …and then eats it out of the garbage can.

Though I did not subject myself to dumpster diving, I lacked all control when it came to that peanut butter pie.  It was only once I brought it to a family gathering that I could unload it on someone else that I finally felt rid of it (my unsuspecting grandmother has no idea how much deliciousness she is in for).

So here’s my topic for today: how can I be a baker and not eat everything last bite of what I make? How can I bake my butt(er) off to my heart’s content and how much time will I have to spend working my butt(er) off at the gym?

Now I’m not completely obsessed with being skinny..for me, it’s more about being healthy and fit.  I understand that the amount of work I’m willing to put in at the gym and the amount of food I put in my mouth directly corresponds to the way I look.  I eat healthy most of the time, but, well, you know, I HAVE to know what my stuff tastes like, so sometimes I have to taste the batter, the finished product, and maybe a couple of extra items that are leftover…or I have to make myself a batch, just to check 🙂

Either way, I feel like I am in a constant battle of wanting to bake myself into a frenzy and not wanting to eat everything I create.  When school is in session this dilemma becomes easier, as I bring the desserts into work. Teachers and students LOVE free food. But in the summer, this is harder. It’s just me and boyf and my family (my sister loves/hates when I bake because she eats it all, too).

Have you ever had this issue? Wanting to make something delicious for the fun of it, but not necessarily wanting to eat it all?

Leave me a comment below!

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