Thursday, 8 May 2008

"i wanna be a chocolate god" post 1: chocolate stout cake

I should warn you. The next two (possibly three) posts are going to be all chocolate, despite the fact that it's spring, so I'm all about mangoes. However, I will resist the urge to blog about them, since I just eat them. As many as possible. Yesterday I strapped a box of them to the back of my bike. Right. Back on track. The first installment of chocolatey goodness is for a fundraiser at work, selling cake to omnivores to raise money for a charity that helps homeless people. Lately, I've seen a lot of stout chocolate cake recipes knocking about. The omni ones, especially the one at epicurious, looked rich and decadent and like the kind of cake that people let out contented sighs after eating and then talk about for days. They had vast amounts of real chocolate and a respectable measure of stout. They had sour cream. And And whipping cream. Gross (dairy), yet I can see how the creamy ingredients would complement the stout and let you make a very rich dessert that wasn't too sweet. Some of the vegan versions looked, um, well.... Gone were all the rich ingredients, and they had been replaced with nothing more than oil! (I don't have an ethical problem with oil, but who wants to eat oily chocolate cake? Ew.) And the chopped up chocolate had been replaced with cocoa! Gasp! WRONG! There were positive comments about these cakes, but I think that just mixing chocolate and stout will get that, regardless of any other factors. I wanted something rich and decadent and not-oily. I wanted the omnivores to think "Sheesh. I should go vegan. Vegans have all the good cakes. I wonder if Ducky will give me that recipe if I offer her massages and my undying adoration." And, deep in the recesses of my little chocolate-addicted soul, I refuse to even contemplate the possibility that coco powder is an acceptable substitute for actual chopped chocolate in baked goods. Augmentation, yes. Something altogether different, yes. Substitute, noooooooo. So now that I've offended both omnis and vegans alike, here's my version. This cake is quite fudgy and not too sweet and very chocolatey. I like the stout. I like the way the sour cream and melted chocolate let the bitterness of the stout and cocoa play nicely with the other flavours instead of taking over or being relegated to a minor component (by using very little stout or a lot of sugar). Spanky has a batch of chocolate stout on the go, so I will do this again when we have our own homebrew. And guess what? The recipe is here, and free. Though proclamations of undying adoration are always appreciated.

dry ingredients:

3 c flour (I used self-raising white)
1/2 c sugar (next time i'll cut it to 1/3)
1/2-3/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla salt (i grind up a vanilla bean in about 1/2 c salt and just keep it for occasions like this).


1 (mori-nu size) block worth of tofu sour cream (use your favorite recipe), minus 3 tbs. (you will need these later)
1c depitted prunes. place in cup. do not pack. now fill the cup with soy milk. let it soak for a while. or just microwave it if you forgot to do this in advance, like i always do.

blend not-so-dry ingredients together

melt 200g dark chocolate (I used green and blacks 85%) in
400mL stout (I used kelpie seaweed ale).

mix dry ingredients.
add not-so-dry and wet ingredients. mix some more.

place in an oiled and floured cake pan and bake at 180C for 35 mins. check. mine was done after 40 mins, but my oven is a speed demon. i suspect ovens who aren't always in a big rush will do this in a more leisurely 45 mins.

then, to bring the holy trinity of snack foods (beer, peanuts, chocolate) together in a single glorious cake, I topped the whole thing with peanut-crumb topping swirled with chocolate icing.

remaining sour cream
icing sugar

I used a lot of cocoa and a little icing sugar, but use your own judgement/sugar tolerance/cocoa tolerance here

peanut crumb goodness:
1/2 c salted roasted peanuts
1/4c flour (i used rice flour)
1 tbs sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbs olive oil (the more olive-ish, the better)

mix peanuts, flour and sugar in blender until you have fine-ish chunks. put on a little tray. add oil and mix with fork. when you take the cake out of the oven, turn the oven off and pop this little tray of peanutty goodness in and it will kind of crisp up like very very unhealthy granola. put it on top of the cake. if you are very industrious, talented, or just trying to get into someone's pants by impressing them with your cake-decorating skills, make a pretty swirl or a pirate flag or something else artistic. otherwise, just put the icing on the cake, thus forming a layer of edible adhesive, and sprinkle the crumbs on the icing.


Tuimeltje said...


I must admit, I never even considered adding real chocolate to cakes, since the cocoa version was already very nice.
Still, definitely something to try.

sinead said...

real chocolate makes the cake fudgier and richer. it's also nice if you don't like your cakes too sweet, but you want them to be undeniably cake (ie- there is no way you could justify eating this for breakfast on the grounds that it's almost like a quickbread. if you eat this for breakfast, you have to admit that you're eating cake for breakfast. nothing wrong with that!). i find that most vegan cakes are oily rather than rich. the tofu/chocolate combo gets around that. of course, sometimes it's nice to have a lighter cake, or a faster-to-make cake, in which case i like to go for one of those ones that uses cocoa, like the one on your site.