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!

Vegan Chocolate Cake
(adapted from here)

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour one 9"x13" or two 8" round pans. (Like I mentioned earlier, the cake still stuck to the pans, so next time I plan to line the bottom with parchment paper and greasing and flouring over it.)
Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix in water, vanilla, oil and vinegar until blended well. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for 30 min. When done, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then use a knife to loosen sides. Cool completely.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup dairy-free margarine (soy)
  • ½ cup almond, soy, or rice milk
  • 1 ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
In a mixing bowl, cream powdered sugar with margarine until well combined. Add milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Continue mixing till smooth.

Cake Ball Assembly

After cake has cooked thoroughly, cut into quarters. Break cake apart until it resembles the consistency of lumpy oatmeal. Add in frosting and combine. Hands work very well here. Cake and frosting should be mixed until everything holds together well, but be careful not to over mix. Using a 1-in. cookie dough scoop, form round balls and place on parchment or wax paper. Place balls in the freezer for at least 30 min. Melt a package of vegan semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave with 2 Tbsps. of shortening. Stir until smooth. Using a fork, dip balls and coat. Place on parchment or wax paper and put in the refrigerator until chocolate is set.

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