(vegan baking + other minor obsessions)
Vegan chocoholics of the world, unite! A thin layer of chewy, gooey brownie overdosed with chocolate chunks, covered with a layer of home-made dulce de leche and topped with a light cream cheese whip – this rich chocolate cake does involve some advanced planning and prep, but the results are well worth it. It’s a great cake for a birthday, and makes a perfect dessert.
Those of you who have been reading my blog may have picked up on my obsession with perfect basic recipes, and this cake is an example of the value of such reliable formulas. Each of the layers is a great basic, and I have used these recipes time and again in countless different combinations. The cream cheese whip nicely complements an infinite variety of cakes and other desserts – it is my favourite alternative to whipped cream, and its subtle sweetness is a refreshing change from buttercream frostings. This recipe will give you more than you need for the brownie cake, so pile it on more liberally if you want, or keep refrigerated and use in other desserts – it’s great on carrot cake!
I have already elaborated my theory on dulce de leche in a previous post so I won’t bore you with that again here.
And as for the brownie recipe, what can I say? Brownies are close to my heart – I started baking them to the family recipe when I was maybe 10, and they soon became my speciality. Years later when I went vegan, I tested every vegan brownie recipe I could get my hands on to make sure I had the very best, and since then I have been working on perfecting this recipe for the last six years. I still consider it a work in progress and I am forever trying new tweaks, but for now, let me just say that this is the best vegan brownie I have ever tried, and it holds its own against any animal brownie out there. In fact, as is often the case with vegan baking recipes, I think it’s even better – in a conventional brownie the tastes of butter and eggs are quite dominant, but with vegan brownies all you get is glorious chocolate flavour. Choose a good-quality chocolate that really sings for you, and watch your oven closely – these brownies are rather low in fat and can get dry if over-baked. If in doubt, take them out!
Hmm I am sooo excited about sharing this recipe with you! Must be all that chocolate. If you try it, please drop me a note below.
Vegan Caramel Brownie Cake
75g/2½oz plain baking chocolate (semi-sweet chocolate) or 75% chocolate
110g plain/3¾oz/scant 1 cup (AP) flour
50g/1¾oz/¼ cup granulated sugar
20g/¾oz/3 tbsp cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)
10g/1 tbsp arrowroot
2/3 tsp baking powder
2/3 tsp bicarbonate (baking soda)
¼ tsp salt
70g/2½oz/heaped 1/3 cup chocolate chunks
75ml/2¼fl oz/5 tbsp maple syrup
75ml/2¼fl oz/5 tbsp soya milk
35ml/2 tbsp + 1 tsp sunflower oil
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ batch Vegan Classic Dulce de Leche
Cream Cheese Whip
225g/8oz vegan cream cheese
125g/4½oz/½ cup + 1 tbsp vegan butter
40g/3 tbsp non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
85g/3oz/¾ cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. First, make the cream cheese whip. Whisk the cream cheese, butter and shortening in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment just until smooth and well combined. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to mix at high speed until smooth and fluffy – but avoid over-mixing because vegan butter has a tendency to separate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Now make the brownie. Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F (or 170°C/325°F for a fan-assisted/convection oven). Grease a 20cm/8in round cake tin and line it with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended above a pan of gently simmering water.
3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a large bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until well combined.
4. Mix the maple syrup, soya milk, oil and vanilla extract together. Add the chocolate and the maple syrup mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and spread it into an even layer with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes (12 minutes for fan-assisted oven). Let the brownies cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack and leave them to cool completely.
5. To assemble the cake, spread the dulce de leche over the brownie base, then top with a layer of cream cheese whip. If you are feeling more arty than me, you could try piping it instead – in either case, equally delicious! Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve.
This is my contribution to the Virtual Vegan Potluck, May 2013. For more vegan awesomeness, check these links: