chocolate

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! 

 

Dark Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

A massive blizzard named "Juno" was to hit New York City causing streets to be closed, subways to be suspended and millions of people trapped in their tiny apartments.  For me this is one of my guilty pleasures, mostly because my mother used to make Snow Days super special.  I have so many vivid memories of my sisters and I standing in the kitchen watching the snow pile up outside while we were elbow deep in dough.  Sometimes it was pizza dough, sometimes it was a sweet braided bread we called "Daisy Bread," and other times it was just chocolate chip cookies.  Even though the view out my window is now a brick wall and my mother is an hour away, I still keep these traditions alive.  While stuck inside with my lovely roommate Kristen watching bad reality television, we decided cookies were just what the weather man ordered.  I rummaged through my fridge and pantry to find 3 of my favorite ingredients: Chocolate, Coconut and Oats...and that is how these insanely delicious cookies were born.  They are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and the unsweetened coconut gives them this wonderful flavor and interesting texture.  These are a must try! Oh and if you are wondering about the blizzard, we woke up to a measly 6 inches on the ground, so here I am with an excess of eggs, milk, water and cookies but its off to work I go.  Oh well!

 

Ingredients-

  1. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  3. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  4. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  6. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  7. 1 cup white granulated sugar
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  11. 1½ cups Ghiardelli Bittersweet 60% Chocolate Chips (They are larger than normal chocolate chips. You can also use dark chocolate chunks or baking bars and chop into chunks)
  12. 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)

Steps-

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; adjust oven racks to middle positions. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes using a stand mixer or hand beater. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in the vanilla. 

4.  Slowly stir in the flour mixture, then stir in the oats, chocolate chips and shredded coconut. Do not overheat, just mix until everything is evenly distributed.

5. Using 1  1/2  to 2 heaping tablespoons per cookie, roll the dough into balls and place on the cookie sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart (I use a small ice cream scoop used for cookie dough). Bake until the cookie edges are golden brown, but the middles are still quite pale, about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. With these cookies they are actually better after they have cooled for an hour or so! They are crisp yet chewy and so flavorful and delicious! You can even sprinkle some large granualted decorative sugar on top of the dough to give it a shimmery effect like below. :)

Fishy Chow: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Coated Pretzel Goldfish

It has been a while since I posted a scrumptious sweet treat!  Now that summer is almost here, you are going to need some good portable snacks to bring with you to the beach or on long car rides!  Ive said this before, but one of my all time favorite flavor combinations is peanut butter and chocolate..I mean unless you are allergic to peanuts, everyone pretty much loves that combo.  When I was at school at Penn State University, tailgating season was a huge production.  Picture 100,000 people flooding the parking lots surrounding the stadium enjoying some cold brewskis and lots and lots of delicious foods.  A popular tailgating snack was “Puppy Chow” or “Muddy Buddies” which is chocolate and peanut butter coated Chex cereal.  It is so yummy and so addicting, I can eat it by the pounds.  I decided to give Puppy Chow a salty sweet twist and replace the Chex with Goldfish Pretzels.  Goldfish pretzels are just fish shaped pretzels that are the perfect size for snacking! Now take a salty crunch pretzel shaped fish and coat it with peanut butter and chocolate..come on now its the bomb.

Ingredients-

  1. 1 & 1/3 Bags of Goldfish Pretzels
  2. 1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  3. 1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  4. 3 Tablespoons Butter
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  6. 1 to 1 1/4 cups Confectioners Sugar

Steps-

  1. Pour the Pretzel Goldfish into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave for a minute.  Stir and microwave again in 15 second increments until the mixture is completely smooth and the butter and chips are melted. Remove from microwave and stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the Pretzel Goldfish.
  4. Using a rubber spatula carefully mix everything together and get all the Goldfish coated in the chocolate mixture. Be careful not to break up the Pretzels.
  5. Pour the coated Goldfish into a large Ziploc bag and pour in the confectioners sugar.  
  6. Zip the bag closed and shake it until everything is well coated and the Goldfish separate from each other.  If they are all too stuck together add a little more confectioners sugar and shake more.  Note: Some with be stuck together..don’t worry that just means you can eat more at one time :)
  7. Spread the fish onto a sheet pan covered with foil or wax paper and let it dry out for about an hour.  You can eat it right away, but I prefer to let it cool a little.
  8. Seal in a container or a plastic bag and you are good to go!!