Sunday, September 28, 2014

Six Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake

What is not to love about this Six Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake? Just reading the title generates excitement: six minute = quick, vegan = low cholesterol and parve (hello Jewish holidays), and chocolate cake = immediate euphoria and giddiness, duh.

But that's just the icing on the cake. (Ha, ha.) Pantry item predominant, economical for your wallet, a one-pot wonder (can I even say, NO pot wonder? All the ingredients are mixed straight into the pan), and these superlatives don't even cover taste! Yes, this cake tastes as rich, decadent, and elegant as it looks. Dark as the night sky, it is moist and light, vivid and opulent, delicate yet powerful. It is going to become your go-to chocolate cake recipe, receiving ooo's and ahh's by all lucky enough to receive a slice. I'll leave it to you whether or not to reveal that this delectable dessert took less time to whip up than a pot of coffee.

I love the idea of spending all day in the kitchen creating a mastermind dessert that leaves you spent but wonderfully proud. But just like there is a time and place for complicated, multi- step aesthetic baking projects, there is also a time and place for the get-er-done quick fix dessert. This recipe is the latter. Messed up dessert #1 two hours before tonight's housewarming party but still need to bring something? Here is your cake. Made your first from-scratch Rosh Hashanah dinner, but realized you'd need to clone yourself three times to include dessert on the menu? Viva la vegan.

Now, to top the cake. Here is where things get tricky (and where my six minutes turned into over an hour.) The original recipe comes with a chocolate glaze, which I've included below, but the water/chocolate combo didn't work for me—it came out really liquidy and yuck. Next time, I will try adding the water slowly into the chocolate, rather than visa versa, to control the amount of liquid in the glaze.

My backup was a simple chocolate butter frosting (there goes the Vegan and the parve—whoops!) that worked wonders. However, the cake and the frosting were both so rich, that I think next time I'll try to make the glaze again to keep things simple. A simple dusting of confectioners sugar or whipped cream and sliced fruit would be great options, too.

Six Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake (from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts)
Makes 1 Cake


Cake Ingredients
1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil (I recommend coconut oil)
1 cup coffee
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Chocolate Glaze
½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
¾ cup hot water
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Frosting
½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick butter at room temperature

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar directly into a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan. (You can also do it in a mixing bowl to make sure nothing spills over.)
2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix together the oil, coffee, and vanilla.
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.
5. Make the glaze OR the frosting: To make the glaze, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Stir in the hot water and vanilla into the melted chocolate until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake.
6. To make the frosting, whip the butter until creamy. In a double broiler or microwave, melt the chocolate. Add the chocolate to the butter, and beat until consistency is smooth. Frost the cake with a spatula.

7. Refrigerate the glazed/frosted cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY Frozen Yogurt

All summer I've kept this essential DIY Frozen Yogurt recipe to myself; requiring no ice cream maker and consuming a paltry 5 minutes of your time. I'm sorry! Do you forgive me? I promise my inability to share this coveted sweet treat stemmed from mere forgetfulness, not a perverse calculation to hog all the frozen yogurt for myself. (Mwahahah.) Now, with open arms, I share with you my one-gadget, two-ingredient ingenious froyo recipe.

Because I am a girl who likes sushi and hummus and kale; by default I must have an insane frozen yogurt addiction that propels me into a morphine withdrawal-like frenzy if I don't have it every week. Check, stereotyped fulfilled. When I misplace my wallet, my primary concern is the possibility of forever losing my Tasti D Lite, Pinkberry and 16 Handles frequent buyer cards.
But here is the truth fellow lets-do-spin-then-grab-sushi-and-froyo-after! friends—froyo really isn't so good for you, even if it's post Sweetgreen. What it lacks in fat it more than makes up for in sugar and chemicals; the antithesis of a wholesome, unprocessed food. And while I myself am guilty on many occasions of justification ("but it only has 150 calories so it really can't be that bad"), we all can admit that the $5.50 per cup minimum charge can really can burn a hole in the frequent consumer's wallet. 
So, what is the froyo addict to do? First, buy an immersion blender such is this Cuisinart Smartstick. (Don't complain that it costs $35. That's 4 post-dinner dessert cups + 1 I'm-just-going-to-get-a-giant-tub-but-eat-it-instead-of-dinner cup.) Next, get yo'self some frozen fruit! I love the Trader Joe's mixes—berry medley, tropical fruit blend—and mango chunks are my favorite if sticking to one variety. While you're at it, grab some non-fat, low-sugar plain yogurt: Fage 0% and Siggi's Icelandic-style Skyr will satisfy the charge.
Combine, blend, and you're done! The consistency is truly uncannily similar to chain-produced frozen yogurt, as well as the taste. What's amazing is that this DIY version has no added sugar (you'd never guess!) and is solely made up of protein-packed yogurt and real fruit—the cleanest froyo you'll ever have. Once you go [immersion] blender, you'll never go back: this little guy can also make soups, sauces, and pestos right in your own mixing bowl; clean up barely required.

My tried and true favorite is mango, greek yogurt, vanilla almond milk, and nutmeg. What combo do you plan on mixing up?

DIY Frozen Yogurt
Makes 1 serving

1 packed cup of frozen fruit (for big chunks like mango and strawberries, cut in half or give a few minutes to defrost)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or Skyr
dash of liquid (water or milk)
dash of spice (Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamon)
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

In a medium to large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together with a spoon. Insert immersion blender, making sure the mouth is covering the bottom of the bowl at all times, and blend until mixture reaches uniformed consistency. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rosemary Orange Zucchini Bread

If it's even possible to get zoodeled out, I have on more option for you to use up the farmers markets' seemingly endless zucchini supply. A loaf for late-summer loafing, try this Rosemary Orange Zucchini Bread: a truly delightful, savory twist on the beloved baked good.

We all know what to expect in a standard dessert bread—eggs, sugar, flour, and butter or oil lay the foundation for the added shredded veggie of choice; an appurtenance of nuts and/or chocolate chips are always well-received. As if to counteract the presence of produce, these breads are generally cloyingly sweet—a firm reminder that despite the presence of nutrition, this bread is meant to serve your sweet tooth.

All that changes with this recipe.  After halving the sugar, adding wholesome nutty flax seed and whole wheat flour, and using heart-healthy olive oil and yogurt to ensure proper moistness, I was left with a perfectly versatile bread: sumptuous enough for dessert, yet also hearty enough for breakfast or snack without going into a sugar coma—or the associated guilt.  Food 52 (are you familiar with this site? If not, check it out—it's my go-to cooking blog for likeminded kitchen enthusiasts; and the community is fantastic) describes it the best: "a rosemary and orange-scented loaf cake that feels both indulgent and virtuous."

Oh, it does. The rosemary, pointedly sophisticated outside of its usual Thanksgiving milieu, balances the earthy zucchini wonderfully; a pleasing savory opposition against sunny orange juice and zest. You can hardly taste the olive oil, but the barely there hint of grassiness is just right. This loaf is truly best describes as the sum of its parts; individually, the ingredients are slightly curious. But it works, ebulliently hearty and delicious—and freezes well too!

Rosemary Orange Zucchini Bread (adapted from Food52)
Makes 2 loaves

2 large eggs + 1 flaxseed egg (1 tbsp flaxseed meal stirred with 3 tbsp water)
1/2 cup of plain yogurt (preferably low-fat)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of sugar*
2 cups of zucchini; shredded
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary; finely minced
Zest of one orange (preferably Valencia)
Juice from 3/4 of the orange 
3 cups of flour (I used 2/3 whole wheat; 1/3 white)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of toasted pecans; chopped

*I eliminated 3/4 cup of additional sugar from the original recipe. This cut may be drastic for some, so if you are sugar-inclined, add 1/4 cup more (you can taste the batter as you go.)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans and set them aside.
2. In a large bowl beat the eggs (plus flaxseed egg). Mix in the yogurt, oil, and sugar. Then mix in the shredded zucchini, rosemary, orange zest, and orange juice. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add toasted nuts.
5. Once the batter is well combined divide it evenly between the two loaf pans.
6. Bake the loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Start testing if the loaves are done at 45 minutes, and every 5 minutes after that until a tester, such as a knife, comes out clean.)

7. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes inside the loaf pan before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve plain, or with your favorite jam.