Saturday, March 15, 2008

spiced up chocolate

I love, love, LOVE chocolate. I personally think it's a basic food group in itself. Lately, I've also been on a spice kick. It must be this cold, long winter. This recipe for a vegan chocolate cake, spiced with cayenne and cinnamon, hits the spot!

Mexican Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups flour*, sifted
1 cup sugar (I like turbinado sugar or Florida Crystals evaporated cane juice)
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2-3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan. I also line the bottom of the pan with unbleached parchment paper.
• In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Stir in the cinnamon, cayenne, vanilla, vinegar, oil, and water. Mix until just combined.
• Pour into the prepared cake pan and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool.
• Dust with the confectioners’ sugar before serving.

* note on flour: the original recipe called for unbleached flour, but I like using whole wheat pastry flour for most of my baked goods, for extra fiber. Make sure you don't use whole wheat bread flour, which will give the cake a heavy consistency.

Spicy Dark Chocolate Sauce:
Melt 2 squares of vegan dark chocolate (check ingredient list to make sure there is no milk) with 1/4 cup water or soy milk. Stir constantly over low heat until the chocolate is melted. I like using a heatproof silicone spatula to make sure I scrape the bottom and sides of my saucepan so that the chocolate doesn't scorch. (You don't want any of that wonderful chocolate to go to waste, do you?) Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 Tbsp. vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance), 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and cayenne pepper, to taste. Check for sweetness -- the original recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar, but I like to start with less since I like my chocolate bittersweet.

This cake is amazing! When you take your first bite, it's the chocolate you focus on. After you swallow, the heat of the cayenne lingers, and that's when you feel the kick!

Recipe adapted from VegCooking.

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