cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

A few months ago my little sister made every Italian mother's nightmare come true...she became a vegan! In the words of one of my favorite movies My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "What do you mean you don't eat no meat!?" Needless to say we all gave her a hard time. I mean whats a life without cheese, without that perfect runny egg yolk, without BUTTER!? We all thought it was a phase but hey this girl has been sticking to her guns! Since I love my sister oh so much I decided to surprise her with a special vegan dessert for her 20th birthday. Like the rest of the Marullo clan, Julia loves chocolate and her favorite dessert was always the Double Chocolate layer cake from Magnolia Bakery in NYC. After some research and the combining of a few good looking recipes I came up with the following recipe and let me tell you it is decadent, it is chocolatey, it is moist and you will not miss the dairy one bit! It tastes a lot like the Magnolia Bakery Cake but its vegan!

 

vegan cake.jpg

 

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

  • 2½ cups all-Purpose flour
  • 2½ cups white sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder (I like the Medaglia D'oro brand) (this is optional but truly enhances the chocolate flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2⅔ cups Unsweetened Almond Milk (you can also use Soy)
  • ⅔ cups Canola oil (or vegetable)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients:

  • ½ cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening 
  • 1¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons Almond Milk (as needed)

Instructions
To Make the Cake: Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare two 8" round baking pans by lightly greasing them, and then cutting a circle of parchment paper to fit into the bottom. You can also use a 9 inch spring form pan and then careful cut the baked cake in half horizontally to fill it with icing but it will take more time to bake. This recipe will also work in sheet pans and cupcake tins! 
In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients, then set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Don't over mix. Divide the batter into the prepared pans, then place them in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Buttercream Frosting: Use a mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand blender and whip the vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add all the rest of the ingredients except for the Almond Milk. Blend until whipped and creamy. If the frosting is a bit too stiff, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Almond milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the Cake: Run a knife around the edges of the cake pans, and flip the pans over to remove the cakes. Remove the parchment paper and discard. Place the first cake on your cake plate, and spread about half of the frosting on top. Place the second cake on top of the frosted cake, and spread the remaining frosting on top of that cake. Add sprinkles or Dairy Free Chocolate Chips around the perimeter to add a little pizzaz!  Store the cake in the fridge or a cool place until you are ready to serve. Serve at room temp! 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crumb Cake

I have to honest, this cake gets me going, it is so darn delicious! My boyfriend and I are very opposite, from our appearance to our personalities, we are pretty ying and yang, but as you know opposites attract! Something we do have in common, besides our names (Danielle and Daniel), is we LOVE Peanut butter and chocolate together, so back in September I came up with this recipe for Dan's birthday.  We are two weeks away from Christmas now and this is the perfect cake to give as gifts to coworkers, neighbors, mailmen..whomever! It is made in a large rectangular pan, so you can cut it into big squares and pack them into nice little boxes tied with holiday ribbon. If you are not a peanut butter person you can leave it out and it just becomes a double chocolate crumb cake! Enjoy!

 

Ingredients-

For the cake-

  1. 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  2. 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
  3. 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  4. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 cup white sugar
  8. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  9. 3 large eggs
  10. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  11. 1/2 cup sour cream
  12. 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter (I use Skippy)

For the Chocolate Crumbs-

  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 ¼ cup sugar
  3. 2 sticks butter, melted
  4. 3/8 cup cocoa powder
  5. ¼ cup confectioner's sugar

 

Steps-

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 13inch x 9inch pan or a "jelly-roll" pan ( a pan about 15-inch by 10-inch by 2-inch) if you'd like, by greasing the pan generously with butter and dusting it with flour.  You can also line the bottom with parchment paper after you butter it if you are worried about it sticking. 

In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and espresso powder.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer or using an electric hand beater, cream the butter and sugars together.  Once the butter mixture is nice and light add the eggs one at a time until they are fully incorporated.  Next add the vanilla.

Next add the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture alternating with the sour cream.  

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place the peanut butter into a microwave safe bowl, and microwave it for about 30 seconds or until it is liquidy. Drizzle the peanut butter all over the cake and then use a butter knife to swirl it lightly around the cake. You want to see the peanut butter so do not mix it completely into the batter.

Place the cake into the oven and bake at 350 degrees (F) for 15 minutes. While cake is baking, make chocolate crumb topping as follows: In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 ¼ cups sugar, and 3/8 cup cocoa powder. Add 2 sticks melted butter and stir until mixture is thick and workable.

With your hands, pinch off chunks of the chocolate mixture and place them on top of the partially-baked chocolate cake. Continue until all of the chocolate mixture is used and the cake is evenly covered. Return the cake to a 350 degree (F) oven, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven. Do not over bake, you want it to be a little fudgy inside, but make sure it is set!

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely. Dust the top with the confectioners sugar and enjoy! For an added touch, melt 1 cup of peanut butter chips (reeses makes them in the baking isle), in the microwave with 1 teaspoon of crisco shortening and then drizzle it over the top of the cake.  Once it hardens and cools enjoy!

 

 

Strawberry Basil Shortcake

It is June which means it is the start of Strawberry season! In NY we can buy berries all year long, but there is a drastic difference between the berries in the winter and the berries in the early summer.  Strawberries in June are deep red throughout, they are extremely juicy and fragrant and they are as sweet as sugar! This easy recipe really showcases summer fruits, and the best part is you can use whatever you have on hand! Use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or fresh or grilled peaches! The basic buttermilk biscuit recipe is super flaky and buttery and if you want savory biscuits you can even leave out the sugar and cinnamon and add chives and cheddar or leave them plain! My strawberry filling is brought to a whole new level with the addition of fresh chopped basil...my favorite smell in the world is basil.  I always say if I could walk around with sprigs of basil under my armpits I would ;) My whipped cream filling has a little vanilla and a little almond extract which really compliment the strawberry flavor. This is the perfect 4th of July treat or for any summer night for that matter ;)

 

Shortcake (Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits)- You can leave out the sugar and vanilla for a delicious savory biscuit! Use them for egg sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and more!

Ingredients-

  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 3 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 7 tablespoons cold butter
  7. 3/4 cup buttermilk
  8. 1/2  teaspoon vanilla
  9. 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  10. Sugar in the Raw (white sugar is fine too but large granule is better)- All you need is a few teaspoons
  11. Cinnamon (a sprinkle)

Steps-

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or using an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  You want the butter to be tiny pea size pieces in the flour mixture. Make sure the butter is super cold because it will only make the biscuits more flaky.
  4. Make a well in the center of butter and flour mixture. Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla extract; stir until just combined.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured work surface, pat together into a rectangle.
  6. Fold the rectangle in thirds. Turn dough a half turn, gather any crumbs, and flatten back into a rectangle. Repeat twice more, folding and pressing dough a total of three times.
  7. Gently roll dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick.
  8. Cut out 10-12 biscuits using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter.
  9. Transfer biscuits to the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops of biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle a decent amount of sugar in the raw on top as well as some ground cinnamon.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until browned, about 15 minutes.

Strawberry Basil Filling

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Lb Fresh, Ripe Strawberries sliced in 1/4 inch slices (tops removed)
  2. 2-3 Tablespoons Granulated White Sugar
  3. 4-5 Basil Leaves Chiffonade (cut into thin ribbons)
  4. 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice 

Steps-

  1. Stir together the ingredients and set aside for at least 30-45 mins. You want the juice to slightly extract a little.  If it doesn't have enough juices, add a few drops of water.

Vanilla Almond Chantilly Cream- (You can use store-bought whipped cream as well)

  1. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  2. 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Steps-

Whip all the ingredients vigorously with a whisk or use hand beaters or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until it is fluffy and forms peaks.  Do not over whip or it will get grainy or even turn into butter!

To Assemble the Cakes-

Cut each warm biscuit in half, top with a heaping scoop of the strawberry basil mixture, top with the chantilly cream and then place the top of the biscuit on top.  You can even place another dollop of cream on top and then sprinkle some toasted slivered almonds over the top. 

Matcha Almond Cake

Lets just say that New York is Mad about Matcha! Matcha is a finely ground powder of specially grown green tea. What's great about Matcha is that it is incredibly versatile.  Matcha has many health benefits and will give you an energy boost without the crash and caffeine withdrawal that coffee gives you.  As a caffeine sensitive person, trust me this is a great way to start your day.  The obvious way to enjoy matcha is as a hot beverage, but in recent years it has been popping up in all sorts of recipes, from ice cream to crepes and even in savory dishes like sauces and rubs. Last week I stopped by a new NYC brunch hotspot called Egg Shop, down on Elizabeth Street in Soho.  Normally I opt for the traditional mimosa when I have brunch, but when perusing this menu the Matcha Almond Latte jumped out at me.  The latte consisted of steamed almond milk and matcha powder and had this incredible earthy and mildly sweet flavor.  When you first try Matcha you may think it is a little bit grassy in flavor, but do not give up right away!  Trust me as you continue to drink it or eat it, it will grow on you and you will find it extremely pleasant.  After I had this latte, the chef in me began to ponder ways I could use it in an original recipe for GRFM.  I loved the almond and green tea flavors together, so I decided to make a delicious tea cake that you can eat for breakfast, dessert or an afternoon snack.  I originally wanted to make a very dense poundcake style loaf, but in the end I ended up with a moist but fluffy loaf that will be awesome with a cup of tea or coffee and a great asset to my next brunch spread.  If you love green tea..give this one a go!

Ingredients-

  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour

  2. 1   1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt

  4. 1/2 cup butter

  5. 5 oz  cream cheese softened

  6. 2  1/2 Teaspoons Matcha Powder

  7. 3/4 cups white sugar

  8. 2 large eggs

  9. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  10. 3/4 teaspoon almond extract

  11. About 1/3 Cup Slivered Almonds

Glaze-

  1. 1/2 Cup Confectioners Sugar
  2. Fresh Lemond Juice
  3. Almond Extract
  4. Water

Steps-

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F . Grease (with butter) and flour a loaf pan.
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the Matcha Powder, vanilla and almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. DO not over mix! Do it by hand if you want to prevent over beating. 
  4. Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle some slivered almonds evenly over the top.  You can put as much or as little as you want or none at all! I think it adds a wonderful crunch to the top of the cake.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes,then turn out onto a wire rack.  Quickly put together the glaze while the cake is still pretty hot. 
  6. Stir together the confectioners sugar, a few drops of fresh lemon juice, a drop of almond extracts (remember it is very strong and concentrated so a drop is enough) and a few tablespoons of water until it is a loose glaze consistency.  Next drizzle it over the top with a spoon and brush the sides of the cake with the glaze using a pastry brush.  When the cake cools the sugary glaze will leave a nice sugary crust on the outside. 
  7. Enjoy!