Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Crazy Cakes: Chocolate Heath Bar Layer Cake

This is what's about to happen:
Words cannot even describe this cake....
The Inspiration: There is a cafe near my home that my friends and I always went to growing up, it's called Aroma Coffee and Tea. It has amazing food, but even more amazing desserts. My friends and I spent many a half hour staring into their ginormous pastry case trying to decide what desserts to get for many years of our lives. One of the most unique and decadent cakes I tried was a chocolate, heath bar cake. It was so rich and sweet, but the saltiness of the heath bars played off of the sweet frosting perfectly. I was also surprised to find that when I cut into the chocolate cake, a thick liquid oozed out of  the pores of the cake, and I was even more surprised and delighted to find that this liquid was in fact a sort of caramel. So, chocolate cake, soaked in caramel, frosted in a decadent chocolate frosting, and topped with heath bars. That was the cake I tried many years ago, and that was the cake that I recently got a crazy craving for. However, I wasn't vegan then, and I am now, so I thought it would be fun to try to re-create it. The experiment turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.....
Nutrition Note: This is a rather decadent dessert recipe, so don't expect there to be any talk of complete proteins, or tons of fiber and antioxidants here. Although now that you mention it, chocolate does have tons of antioxidants, and the coconut butter that is called for in each part of this recipe just so happens to be an excellent source of fiber. But really, although this dessert may not be the healthiest thing on the planet, it is far healthier than the non-vegan alternative. The only source of fat in the recipe is a whole food (coconut butter, or coconut mana) rather than a processed and unnatural oil/fat. This recipe does call for sugar, but you can totally use brown sugar, maple sugar, or any other type of granulated sugar that your heart desires. I used brown rice syrup rather than corn syrup in the caramel and heath bars, and the flour can be whole wheat or white all purpose (baker's choice) depending on your preferences. This cake is definitely no meal replacement, but it is definitely much kinder to your body, your taste-buds, and the planet than a conventional cake of this nature.

Important Recipe Notes:
This recipe contains 4 portions (one of them is optional), the cake, the frosting, the optional caramel sauce, and the heath bars, as well as general assembly instructions for the double layered final product.
Coconut Butter: This recipe calls for coconut butter (also called Coconut Mana) for all components, NOT coconut oil. Coconut butter is a whole food, it is simply pureed coconut flesh; whereas coconut oil is a highly processed food.....not a whole food at all.
Coconut Milk: The frosting in this recipe specifically calls for the coconut milk, but not just any coconut milk. It has to be canned, full fat coconut milk that has been placed in the freezer for at least an hour or the refrigerator for at least four hours. This is because the only portion of the coconut milk that we use is the heavy, thicker white portion that floats to the top when it is cooled. It is also easier to separate the thick portion from the more liquid portion when it is cooled.
Candy Making and Thermometers: Heath Bars and caramel, which are technically types of candy, can be tricky to make. Most people use fancy cooking thermometers when making them, but I am not a fancy person and therefor do not possess such fancy tools. I have using the method I described numerous times to make heath bars, and it has always been successful, the key is to heat it up until it starts to bubble, and then reduce the head to the lowest possible setting to avoid burning.
The Caramel Sauce portion of the recipe is optional. Some people might not like a cake that oozes caramel or that is too moist, or they might just think it's overkill. Go ahead and skip this step if you don't feel like doing it; I personally love the caramel soaked cake, but they cake will still taste great without it!
- Sorry in Advance: For the lack of photos. All three times I tested this recipe I just kept forgetting to take pictures because I was managing making all of the components at the same time and keeping track of ingredients and measurements for my records. Next time I make it I will take more pictures and add some pictures for key steps in the recipe; I'll just add them as updates to this post.

Recipe: Chocolate Heath Bar Layer Cake

Moist Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour (you can use regular or whole wheat, I actually prefer regular white flour for this recipe)
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cup granulated sugar
This is what I mean by "lined with parchment paper"
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut butter (I use this brand)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup unsweetened soymilk
Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients except for the sugar and set aside.
3.  In a medium bowl, using a whisk or a large fork beat together the sugar, coconut butter, and 1/3 cup soymilk until fluffy/creamed. This took me about 5 minutes of hard beating by hand.
4. To the large bowl of dry ingredients, add in the remaining 1 2/3 cup soymilk, vanilla, vinegar, and coconut-sugar mixtures and mix well. Mix until everything is evenly incorporated and smooth.
5. Line the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and then pour half of the batter into each pan.
6. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let cool for half an hour before removing the cakes from the pans. Then place the cakes in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes before icing them.

Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients:
16 oz unsweetened chocolate (often called baking chocolate)
2 cups coconut butter
1 can coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 4 hours
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 cup soy milk (optional, depends on how thick you like the frosting)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave with the coconut butter for 30 seconds to a minute. Watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.
2. Once over half of the chocolate is melted, remove from the microwave and mix everything by hand until the rest of the chocolate melts.
3. Scoop only the thicker portion of the coconut milk (the white, dense portion that has floated to the top of the can, while leaving the liquid, somewhat clear portion behind) into a large mixing bowl for your electric mixer.
4. Add the melted chocolate and coconut butter to this mixture and begin to beat on medium-high speed.
5. Add in the vanilla and salt.
6. Sift in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until the frosting has reached your desired sweetness.
7. Depending on how thick or or not thick you like your frosting, add soymilk in, one tablespoon at a time, until the frosting has reached your desired thickness.
8. Let it chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Heath Bars
Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp water
Directions:
1. Add all ingredients to a medium, heavy-bottom pot on the stovetop and begin to heat on medium heat while mixing with a wooden/heat resistant spoon.
2. Once the mixture begins to bubble stop mixing it and turn the heat down to low and let the mixture cook like so for about 5 minutes.
3. Stir the mixture for a minute or so, and then leave it alone to cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Stir the mixture and let it cook again for about another 5 minutes.
5. And, stir the mixture and let it cook again for another (final) 5 minutes, making sure it does not burn, then turn off the heat. The mixture should be far more golden-brown than it was when you first started heating it, if not continue to cook on the lowest heat (but still bubbling) until it looks like a rich, caramel brown.
5. Line a small cookie sheet or tray with parchment paper, and pour the mixture onto this tray. (You could also try using those individual silicon molds that they now sell for baking, but I haven't tried this myself so I don't know how it would turn out).
6. Cool in your fridge (or freezer if you're impatient, which I always do) until the heath bars are cool and solid to the touch.
7. You can easily remove the heath bars thanks to the parchment paper, and either cut them using a super shart knife or crumble/smash them into chunks.

Caramel Sauce (Optional)
Ingredients: 
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut butter
Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a small pot on the stove top and heat until bubbling.
2. Turn the heat down to low and watch the contents of the pot until they begin to bubble again.
3. Let the contents of the pot sit for about five minutes while bubbling, and then turn off the heat.
4. Give the pot a final stir and let the caramel sit in the fridge to cool.

Assembly:
1. Using a serrated knife, cut off the dome/curved top of each of the cakes so that the top of each cake is perfectly flat.
The finished product!
Also, I just got lazy with shaping the heath bars and just
cut/pried them out in giant blobs from the pan.
2. Place one cake with the cut side facing up on a cake tray or rased plate. If you choose to soak the cake in caramel sauce, gently spoon the caramel sauce over the cake until the entire top has been covered/soaked with the caramel sauce. Give the cake 5 minutes to absorb the sauce before moving on to the next step.
3. Spread a thin layer of the chocolate frosting over only the tope of this cake so that it the entire top of the cake is covered.
3. Place the second cake, with the cut side facing down (towards the frosting) onto the frosted bottom cake. You can add caramel to the top of the second cake as well if you desire, if not skip on ahead to the next step.
4. Using the remaining frosting to frost the top and side of the cake. Always add the frosting to the top, and then spread it down to the sides, never apply frosting directly to the sides of the cake.
5. Lastly, take your heath bar squares or crumbs/chunks and press these into the frosting.

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