Saturday, November 5, 2011

You'd-Never-Guess-They're-Vegan Chocolate Cake Balls

Another birthday at work. This time the birthday boy is lactose intolerant. He seems to be totally OK with that, but let me tell you, I would die. I LOVE my dairy products.

Once I tried making a gluten free cake for a student, and it was a disaster. It tasted like cardboard and had the consistency of sand. Not appealing at all. I decided this time making a special dietary needs dessert it was going to be good. And, I didn't want anyone to say, "Well, it's good if you're lactose intolerant and didn't know any different."

So, I went looking for lactose free cake recipes. After searching the internet, I decided upon this recipe for a chocolate cake. The author guarantees it's the best chocolate cake ever, and plus, it's vegan. I made a few modifications and decided to use a vegan version of my favorite chocolate frosting instead of the recommended chocolate glaze.

The recipe said to prepare the cake batter in the pan. I was a little wary of this and decided to grease and flour the pans, and prepare the batter in a mixing bowl. When I took both cake rounds out of the oven, they looked perfect, and I was most pleased. However, after letting them cool for ten minutes, I loosened the sides of the cakes and tried to flip them out onto a cooling racks. I say "tried" because I was not successful. Those cakes were both completely stuck. When I finally got them out, I was left with chunky piles of chocolate cake.

Arrgh! What was I going to do? It was already 10 p.m.

That's when Katie reminded me when a cake fails, make cake balls. And, that's what I did.

How did they turn out? Well, everyone loved them. If I wouldn't have said anything, no one would have even known they were vegan. They tasted exactly like my cocoa fudge cake truffles.

I think if I were vegan or lactose intolerant, I would be making these quite often. But after second thought, maybe not. These little babies are dangerous around me. I just can't stop at one, two, five, ten...

As it turned out, Katie has a student in her writing class who is also lactose intolerant. Katie always makes treats when they do their peer reviews. The cake balls were also a huge hit in her class. Word about them seemed to spread across campus. A student came up to me and told me how incredible my wife's cake balls were, and then later, I overheard a student talking about how her teacher brought these amazing cake balls to class.

So, that should inspire you to make these even if you're not vegan.

I'm sure this recipe could make a great cake, but Katie and I still haven't figured out the secret of getting it nicely out of a pan. I'm going to try parchment paper next.

Below is a photo of Kyle, the birthday boy, and me. It may look like we are fighting over the cake balls, but that is actually my oh-how-I-absolutely-love-desserts look, and that is Kyle's this-guy-is-nuts look. Happy birthday, Kyle!

Give me cake balls! Nom, nom, nom!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

I'm back!

Did you miss me?

Did you even know I was gone?

Well, the family and I had the amazing opportunity to spend the summer in Vienna directing the BYU study abroad. While I had a wonderful time full of exciting experiences and fantastic food, it's taken me until now before I felt I was caught up enough with my real life that I could post anything on this blog. 

This was taken at Demel's Cafe, the imperial bakery. Liam and Tomas are enjoying a typical Viennese dessert called "Mohr im Hemd" which a steamed chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. When life slows down a bit, I plan to learn how to make some of the out-of-this-world desserts we had in Austria. And of course, I'll share them here.

Since returning, I have done some baking though. I've kept up the tradition of bringing something into the office when one of the students has a birthday. I don't know what it is, but there's always a cluster of birthdays around October and November, my busiest time of year at work.

First off, we had Erika. Good thing for Facebook. I would have probably missed her birthday all together. It was late at night, and I needed something quick and easy, yet still have that "wow" factor. I thought back to the days when Katie and I were newlyweds, and we went through a cheesecake phase. We were so into it, I think we made one a week. I hadn't made a cheesecake for a long time, and I immediately thought of this chocolate orange cheesecake, one of our favorites. After a quick run to the store for some cream cheese (Which, by the way, you can't do in Austria because the grocery stores close early.), I was ready to start. By the time David Letterman came on, it was in the oven.

The cheesecake, as always, was a hit. Everyone thought it was a lot more work than it really was. If you've never tried making a cheesecake before, this is a good one to start with.

Happy birthday, Erika!
*My mom just informed me I posted this recipe before. Rats! Oh well. I'll just have make another one of our favorite cheesecakes and post it to make up for the goof.