I’m 25 today!!! It must be a food blogger birthday tradition, to make your birthday cake before your birthday so that the internet can see it on your birthday. I made these on Monday and photographed/ate them Tuesday. Now that I think about it I like eating birthday cake throughout my birthday week more than eating it just on my birthday and afterwards. It helps that I made another cake yesterday (an upcoming Apple Chai Cake) for to eat for breakfast with coffee this Birthday morning.
The cake in these cute little mini cakes turned out like a dense brownie. It’s sweetened with honey in an attempt to halve the sugar-rush affect natural to birthday cakes. I used real sugar in the frosting, you see. I’m usually a frosting h8tr. Too many fake frostings on store-bought birthday cakes in my youth. I recall very clearly the first time I had a buttercream frosting. Not the details of the scenario — I can’t recall if it was a birthday or a wedding. But I DO remember being shocked that frosting could be something that tastes good — better than the cake itself. It was a “FORGET THIS CAKE” moment, wherein I ate all of the icing and none of the cake. I was always a frosting scraper before that (and after that), leaving bright blue and ice white smears all over my barbie paper plates.
What I’m getting at is: frosting makes or breaks a layer cake experience. I’m down with unfrosted cakes any day. The moist, rich, preferably-chocolate single layer types with maybe a scoop of ice cream on the side. Or ganache covered ones which are basically SEX as a cake. But layer cakes require loads of frosting in my opinion. So it might as well be delicious. And non-lethal, if possible.
Which is why this is dairy free, despite the fact that it has powdered sugar in it (forgive me). I have a great recipe for refined-sugar-free frosting here if you wanna check that out. It’s a favorite recipe, but I recently realized thanks to a reader of this blog that one of the essential ingredients (Better Than Milk Soy Powder) is loaded with a bunch of thickening agents such as xanthan and guar gum. I’m not gonna say I’ll never make it again. It tastes like cream cheese frosting and it’s made with coconut oil (damn it’s good). But I don’t really want to eat thickening gums too often.
So, back to the drawing board. Which means starting with the basics. Which means using the simple, sweet, essential version of frosting that is: butter + powdered sugar + flavorin’. This frosting in mocha and halva (tahini + honey) is YES. Speaking of tahini, I’m doing a little giveaway with Soom Foods today! Their tahini is the best I’ve ever had — creamy, easy to stir in the jar, without the intense bitterness of most sesame pastes. I’m giving away a jar of their tahini. Leave a comment with what you would do with your tahini below and I’ll pick a winner at random in 7 days (9/25/2014).
- 150 grams brown rice flour (heaping 1 cup)
- 60 grams almond meal (1/2 cup)
- 30 grams arrowroot flour (1/4 cup)
- 25 grams cacao powder (1/3 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 cup earth balance or vegan shortening
- 1 & 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons tahini (I used Soom brand)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Preheat the oven to 355F. Grease a 9" cake pan with coconut oil and dust it with a light layer of brown rice flour mixed w cocoa powder.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients: brown rice flour, almond meal, arrowroot flour, cacao powder, salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine applesauce, honey, vanilla, chia, egg, and coconut oil. Using an electric whisk or immersion blender to combine everything until the mixture is creamy. Let sit for 5 minutes -- this helps the chia to plump up and become gelatinous.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, folding everything together. Add the hot water, and fold everything together once more. Add your batter to your cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. The top of the cake will look dry and a sharp knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Let cool for an hour. Once cooled, use a 2 inch cookie cutter to cut out circles from your cake. You can save the extra cake bits to fold into ice cream -- or top it with some berry coulis and ice cream and enjoy as is! Set your mini-cake circles aside.
- While the cake is baking, make your frosting.
- For the mocha frosting: Add a half cup of earth balance to a medium mixing bowl. Add a 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the earth balance. Using an electric whisk/beater, whip everything together until you get a shiny, well-combined frosting. Set in the fridge to firm up further for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
- For the halva frosting: Add a half cup of earth balance to a medium mixing bowl. Add a 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, tahini, honey, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the earth balance. Using an electric whisk/beater, whip everything together until you get a shiny, well-combined frosting. Set in the fridge to firm up further for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
- Cover each of your mini cake layers with a thin crumb coat of frosting -- I had 4 layers in mocha for my tall mocha cake, and 5 layers in halva for my two halva cakes.
- Put your layers in the fridge to chill as soon as you've coated them in the crumb coat. To arrange the cakes (once the crumb coat has set) spoon out a teaspoon of icing on the bottom layer of your cake. Top with the next layer. Repeat until you've topped your cake with the top layer.
- Spoon out two tablespoons of icing on the top layer (or as much as you need) and, using a butter knife, spread your icing gently over the top of the cake, down the sides of your cake, adding more frosting to the top of the cake and working down as needed.
- Coat the whole of your cakes in frosting and smooth out with the edge of your butter knife.
- At this point, if cooled my cakes in the fridge for another hour and then added a second coat of icing -- just to really seal the deal.
Full disclosure: I received a jar of Soom Foods tahini, at my request, to develop this halva frosting. All words and opinions are, as always, my own.
Filed Under: Chocolate, Dairy Free, dessert, Gluten Free Tagged With: birthday cake, cake, chocolate, coffee, cupcake, dairy free, dessert, frosting, gluten free, icing, mini cake, mocha, sprinkles, vegan
A wave of tomatoes and red peppers has crashed down over my kitchen counters, reflecting gold and pink on to my white walls. Big, melting yellow tomatoes and thick walled peppers boil down into a sweet, punchy soup — kicked up by yellow curry and ginger. Coconut milk makes a creamy stock. You need one soup pot, a sharp knife, a wooden spoon to stir it all, and a metal immersion blender. Then, of course, you need someone with an appreciation for soups to share it with. It goes well with a viewing of Good Morning, Vietnam. And a glass wine.
September is here. September is one of my favorite months — the heat is just starting to dissipate, so you can still go for a dip and eat ice cream but there’s still that promise of cool evenings for sipping soup and cocooning in a felt blanket. At some near date in the future I could break out my squash colored knit dresses and wear layers of socks with ankle boots. A scarf wouldn’t suffocate me with its cotton folds. A wide brimmed hat won’t flatten my hair down with a ring of sweat. I might even eat birthday cake outside while watching chickadees swing about in shadowed evening light.
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons curry vindaloo
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 long Italian sweet peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 large heirloom tomato (about 2 lbs), chopped
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 can full fat coconut milk (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
- small heirloom cherry tomatoes, to garnish
- In a large soup pot over medium high heat, toast the coriander seeds and curry powder together for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally -- the coriander will take on a toasted color and the mixture will become fragrant. Add olive oil, and fry 30 seconds more. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sautee until the onion becomes tender, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine to the soup pot, and let it cook down by half. Add your sweet peppers, tomato, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and vegetable stock and cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Cut off the heat and add your salt. Using a metal immersion blender, blend together the soup until you get a creamy, smooth texture. Serve piping hot, topped with a bit of coconut milk and some sliced cherry tomatoes, to garnish. This is great topped with crackers, as well!
Planning a wedding is like getting caught in a rip-tide. You wade out. The water looks choppy but you’ve dealt with choppy water before. You feel the muscles in your body, the weight in your bones. The froth at the edges of crests that slam together releases a familiar, salty spray that mists over your skin, from top to bottom. Your hair stand on end. You wade a little bit deeper. And deeper still. Your feet are still on the ground. And then you lift your feet, and in 30 seconds your sucked into the current. You can see the curve of the shore, the people smaller and darker as you get pulled out and out and out. The biggest of the waves collapses over you, you sink under. You can feel the salt in your eyes and at the edges of your mouth. You break the surface and you’re beyond the crests. The shore is just a line. The people are specks. You float on, beyond where folks on the shore even know you’re out there. If your lucky, a boat will curve over your way and you’ll be lifted out of the water onto the faded planks, spread out like a slip of canvas to dry in the sun.
Coconut flour is an unwieldy medium. It soaks up liquid like a sponge — requiring you to use counter-intuitive ratios of liquid to dry ingredients. As if that wasn’t enough, it has a drying quality in the mouth. It’s my arch-nemisis, in gluten free baking. But the universe keeps gifting me free bags of coconut flour (whyyyyyy?!) soI feel that’s a sign that I need to tackle it with at least a pinch of gusto, if not a whole barrel of whoopass.
So I thought to myself: LET’S MAKE CUPCAKES. With the kind of manic determination required to pretend that would work after so many failed attempts. I’ve had more coconut flour failures than I can even remember. Let’s just say most of my coconut flour cakes, muffins, biscuits, and the like have flopped. Like a fish gasping for air on the wharf. Like a sumo wrestler’s belly coming in for a heavy landing on a skinny contender.
But, once again, I found myself gazing over the whirring S blade of my food processor, willing this recipe to work.
And it did.