August 8, 2010

Gluten-Free & Vegan Birthdays

August is a big month for birthdays in my family. We celebrated both Travis' birthday & his mom's birthday this weekend. The Babycakes cookbook has been a big hit since the banana bread, so I baked Babycakes' Chocolate Cupcakes for Travis' birthday dessert. For his mom's cake I went with Babycakes' Double-Chocolate Crumb Cake.

I tried to make McKenna's version of Chocolate Frosting, but I couldn't find the called for dry soy milk powder at my local natural foods stores or Chinese market. However, I did happen upon instant soy milk powder. It's always such an adventure to land upon ingredients that I would never have sought out if it weren't for certain recipes, instant soy milk....Really? I've never been one for powdered milks of any sort...but in this case I figured this was the closest thing I would find to dry soy milk powder since I didn't have time to place an online order.

The rectangle box and the sachets encasing the instant soy milk remind me of the hot cocoa packets from childhood. They were always a warming thought when I was in college and went on winter hikes. Oh and the cocoa with mini dehydrated marshmallows was the perfect treat when I was a young camper in elementary school.

We don't drink much soy milk at home, I stick to raw cows milk or coconut milk and Travis prefers rice milk; we don't have much soy in general around the house; it is a top allergen after all and by now I'm sure most crops planted in the US are genetically modified. So that's reason enough to forgo the soy and use coconut milk and flour in its place in this recipe, but that will take some tweaking and testing.

Using the instant soy milk in place of the dry soy milk didn't yield a fluffy and spreadable frosting....instead I was left with a sauce the consistency of melting ice-cream, not completely runny, but not thick enough to properly frost 1 cupcake let alone 2 dozen. Although after stirring it held up a bit, but still quite loose..I tried to save it by melting it down and adding more coconut oil and coconut flour, however this didn't change much so I turned it into the chocolate sauce for the Double-Chocolate Crumb Cake.

Therefore, I was left with unfrosted cupcakes so in place of the chocolate frosting I created a rich vegan chocolate ganache to top Travis' Birthday Cupcakes. I think next time I bake these cupcakes, I'll add a cup or so of chopped chocolate to the batter, gooey globs of melted chocolate always make everything better! And I'll dip them into ganache or frost with a soy-free vegan chocolate frosting.

The Double-Chocolate Crumb Cake that I baked for Travis' mom turned out to be a favorite. A much lighter crumb than the Chocolate Cupcakes, made up mostly of brown rice flour and potato starch. This cake recasts the glorified Chocolate Cupcake of Travis' Birthday dessert into a supporting role; the crumb topping.

Wishing all of you August babies a Happy Birthday!

Buon Appetito!

Double-Chocolate Crumb Cake

3/4 C brown rice flour
1/4 C potato starch
2 T arrowroot
1/2 C cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t xanthn gum
1 t salt
1/2 C coconut oil, plus more for the pan
2/3 C agave nectar
1/3 C homemde applesauce or store-bought unsweetened applesauce
2 T pure vanilla extract
1/3 C hot water
1 C crumb base (recipe below)
1/4 C chocolate sauce (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9X3-inch round cake pan with circle of parchment paper and coat both paper and sides lightly with oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add 1/2 cup oil and the agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the Chocolate Crumb over the cake, gently patting it down. Return the pan to the oven and bake the cake for an additional 15 minutes. The finished crumb topping will be slightly crisp to the touch, and the cake will be firm.

Let the cake stand in the pan for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edges. Cover the top of the pan with cutting board and flip over. Carefully lift the pan way and re-invert the cake onto a serving plate.

Pour the chocolate sauce into squeeze bottle and drizzle it evenly over the top of the cake in a zigzag pattern from one edge to the other. Rotate the cake 180 degrees and drizzle it again.

I prefer to spoon it over the cake! In any manner I see fit.

Cover the cake with a dome and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Crumb Base

6 unfrosted chocolate cupcakes
1 T coconut oil
3 T agave nectar
1/2 t salt

In a medium bowl, use your hands to crumble the cupcakes into small, fine bits. Add the oil, agave nectar, and salt to the crumb. Using a rubber spatula, fold together the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. For longer shelf life, store in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

Chocolate Sauce

1 1/2 C unsweetened soy milk (I prefer coconut milk)
1/2 C dry soy milk powder
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T coconut flour
1/4 C + 2 T agave nectar
1 T pure vanilla extract
1 C coconut oil
2 T fresh lemon juice

In a blender or food processor, combine the soy milk, soy powder, cocoa powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
For Chocolate Frosting, simply leave out 2 T agave and store in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours prior to frosting cupcakes and up to 1 month.

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