Wednesday, May 28, 2008


And now for the May Daring Bakers Challenge, Opera Cake!

At first look. I thought this was going to take a few (or more) tries to veganize this little bugger. The recipe contained about a dozen eggs, some cream, some butter. What's a girl to do? Tackle the little egg laden booger one bit at a time.

The first bit is the cake layer, the joconde. This is traditionally a thin spongecake like layer. This is where most of the eggs came in so this was going to be the biggest challenge. I needed to find a suitable replacement for 6 lg eggs and 6 egg whites. I decided the best way to go about it would be to make up my own recipe while staying in the spirit of the original. Almond focus, light, airy. This is what I came up with.

Almond Cake
1 cup almond meal (you can make your own with a blender or food processor)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (a nut oil will taste nice here but any would work)
2 cup almond milk (or your favorite milk alternative)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Oil three 8" spring form pans or line cupcake tins (12-15)
Combine a
lmond meal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients using a hand mixer or whisk to fully mix. Add in dry ingredients mixing until fully incorporated.
Pour into prepared pans and bake 30 mins, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Next the syrup, this was easy. The recipe was already vegan and simple. Use this to drizzle into the cake.

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp-1 Tb flavoring of choice (I went with vanilla)

Stir all ingredients into small saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Buttercream, this also had some eggs in originally but I just leaned more towards a light fluffy frosting cream.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tb vanilla
2 Tb melted vegan white chocolate

Beat together shortening and margarine in a large bowl until combined and fluffy. Sift in powdered sugar and beat again to incorporate. Finally add vanilla and white chocolate. Beat until fluffy smooth.

The mousse aspect was optional but who can forget the mousse. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

1/2 cup jam (I used half berry and half apricot)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp agar powder
1/2 pkg (6oz) silken extra-firm tofu
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tb powdered sugar

In a small pot on medium-low heat, whisk together jam, lemon juice, and agar and bring to a slow boil. Cook for 3 minutes reducing heat to maintain slow boil to dissolve agar.
Meanwhile in food processor combine tofu, vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
Add jam mixture and puree again. Refrigerate until completely cooled. Puree again when ready to use to make spreadable.

Then there's the glaze. This took a little work. I wanted a white chocolate glaze like the recipe called for but I had to order dairy free white chocolate. I went with a source I hadn't tried before, Chocolate Emporium. They don't contain any partial hydro nastiness (unless the label is wrong) so I'm pretty happy with them.

3-4oz vegan white chocolate
3 Tb vegan creamer (soy creamer, mimiccream)

In a double boiler melt white chocolate with creamer. Stir until smooth. Add more creamer to reach pour-able consistancy.

Assembly should go something like this.
If you have springform layers.
Layer: cake-syrup-buttercream-cake-syrup-buttercream-cake-syrup-mousse-glaze.
If you have cupcakes.
Cut each cupcake into three layers (see photo for example) and layer each item as listed above. I chose to add the glaze under the mousse.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Couscous Cake?

Looking though some food porn on the ppk I came across a thread featuring couscous cake. I was intrigued. What is this couscous cake you speak of? What a strange idea. After looking at the photo and reading the post I realize that I have a recipe for a couscous cake in a cookbook that I have recently purchased, Vegan Planet. Now this is not a small book so I wasn't surprised in the least that I missed this particular recipe. Also in general I am not a Pumpkin fan. Well it's alright but I have never liked pumpkin pie. How un-American of me, I know. Anyway, also included in this post is a reference to a contest hosted by Robin Robertson on her Vegan Planet blog. "Alright I'm in!" I think. I'm such a sucker. A contest is as good an excuse as any to try out a new and, to me, unusual concept in cooking.

As it turns out couscous cake is a super easy thing to make. Also super quick and super versatile. As this was the first trial of said cake I wanted to keep things simple. I decided to go with the smooth delicate flavor of coconut as it would pair nicely with the fresh fruit I had on hand already. So without further adieu. My couscous cake recipe.

Coconut Vanilla Bean Couscous Cake

1 15oz can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/4-1/3 cup sugar
1 Tb arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1 vanilla bean
2 cups whole wheat couscous

In a medium saucepan heat coconut milk, water, sugar and arrowroot over medium high heat, whisking to fully mix in the arrowroot. Meanwhile scrape out vanilla bean seeds and add to pot. Whisk to incorporate seeds. Toss in the vanilla bean pod as well, this will also add to the vanilla flavor. Once the mixture comes to a boil stir in couscous, cover and simmer for about 1-2 minutes then remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile lightly oil a 8" spring form pan, this is to mold the couscous into cake form. You may try something else if you'd like, this cake comes out fairly firm and cohesive.

After 10 minutes, remove the lid to your pot. Your couscous should have absorbed the liquid. Gently stir the couscous to locate the vanilla beans and pull those out. Now dump the mixture into your prepared spring form pan. Press and smooth down the mixture. Cover and chill until fully cooled through, at least 1-2 hrs.

Remove from refrigerator and you can now remove the spring form pan. Slice and serve like a regular cake garnishing with sauce and/or fruit of your choosing. This cake comes out light with a smooth vanilla coconut flavor that will compliment just about anything you dream up. I paired mine with strawberries and kiwi.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cheesecake Pops are evil!

Better slightly late than never. The April Challenge, my first. And challenge it was. I'm a little late posting so let's get on with it. This month's challenge was a recipe from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor.
I wanted to stay as true to the original recipe as possible. So a basic veganization. My altered recipe follows.
Cheesecake Pops
Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages tofutti cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 pkg extra firm silken tofu
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, flour, and salt until smooth.
Using a mixer, mix on low speed in another bowl the tofu, sugar & vanilla.
Beat the two together.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight. You may need to lightly freeze to firm the cake up enough to scoop.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
They aren't all that pretty. I didn't really get the chance to decorate these. They were too delicious and didn't last long at all. The recipe could use a little tweaking. I may revisit this again to perfect it as they would be a great treat to share. Mega yum!