Just Chocolate Cake
When baking kosher not much changes from the traditional way of baking, except when you have to keep your baked goods parve (exempt from any dairy products). For some recipes, like macarons (which are coming up soon on the blog, yay!), it's easy, but for other recipes, like buttercream for instance, it could alter the taste and texture completely.
Let's talk about the texture first. For a regular or naked cake, using a margarine/shortening based buttercream can do the trick. But if you're trying to make a fondant cake with super straight sides and sharp edges it could get tricky. You see, to get a slick looking cake, the optimal practice is to refrigerate or let set your buttercream once your cake is frosted and then apply the fondant. When the cream is mostly made of butter, it hardens and covering it with fondant is doable. When, on the other hand, the buttercream is made of margarine, it doesn't set as well as butter and stays pretty soft. It makes the task of covering the cake with fondant quite difficult since the slightest touch will cause a dent in the shape of the cake. Now, don't get me wrong, it definitely is possible to use margarine and fondant together, it just more challenging to achieve that "perfect" look. Chocolate ganache is a good alternative to buttercream but can be a little too intense if you're not into dark chocolate (white chocolate ganache or milk chocolate ganache are not an option for parve baking). Another option is high ratio shortening which is a substitute that will give a similar affect to butter, but it is not available to everybody (it's mostly sold to baking professionals) and, I'm sorry if not everyone agrees, but put simply it's gross. That brings us to the taste of things...
I have used margarine/shortening in buttercream, and will continue to do so on occasions when I have no other choice, but I avoid it at all costs. Let me explain, whenever I have to make a parve cake that needs to be covered in fondant, I would use delicious fillings for the insides (like mousse, jams, fruit ganaches, curds, praline chocolate, chestnut cream...), and cover the outside with a shortening based buttercream so I can decorate it as I please. Since I'm most probably the one serving the cake, I know to trim off the outer layer. Yes, I do that, don't judge, not many people like to bite into shortening and sugar paste. So why go through all the trouble you ask?? Because having a good looking cake is just as cool as eating a delicious cake in my opinion. Although, when I have the opportunity to use chocolate ganache, I do, but once again it might not please most of the people at my table since it could be "too chocolatey" (if there is such a thing lol).
Which brings us to the recipe I'm sharing with you today. I am so excited about this one!! It's basically the best chocolate cake I have ever made (and I've made quite a few...) iced with a hybrid buttercream/ganache cream. It has the best of both worlds, for the dairy free baking that is. It tastes amazing, it doesn't have that too intense chocolate flavour, nor does it have that chemical taste of shortening. It has a great texture and can be used for naked cakes as well as fondant cakes. In other words, it's the perfect dairy free "buttercream".
Enough said about the icing. Let's discuss the cake. You'll notice that my measurements are all (or most of them) in weight. If you don't have a kitchen scale I can provide you with approximations of their value in metric cups, but, believe me when I shout YOU NEED A KITCHEN SCALE! I'm saying that not because of the fact that your recipe will come out EXACTLY the same way every time, but because I care for you and I want to REDUCE your work load and dishes. Yes, you heard me right, less work, less thinking and less dishes! I added a little video of how I use my scale, which I don't usually do because I'm not the best videographer, so please forgive the poor quality.
Ok, so I've talked about the icing, the cake and now on to the drip. I've used many different mediums to make the drip on drip cakes. For chocolate cakes this drip takes the cake (hahaha). Can we just take a moment and admire how beautifully shiny it is??? And it is definitely the yummiest I've had so far.
Bowl #1 (dry ingredients)
465 g flour
13 g baking powder
8 g baking soda
4 g salt
Bowl #2 (wet ingredients)
105 g cocoa powder
5 g of instant coffee
430 g hot almond milk (or boiling water)
496 g sugar
275 g oil (after creaming eggs and sugar together)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease two 8" pans (or 6" for higher cakes) with oil and flour or cake goop (mixture of shortening, oil and flour in equal parts volume) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
I separated the ingredients in three categories so it's easier for you to visualize how you need to set them up. Start by preparing the wet and dry ingredients. Place the eggs and sugar in the mixing bowl and whip them up (with the whip attachment) until they are lighter in colour and increased in volume. Add the oil and continue mixing until well incorporated.
Now's the time to switch to a beater blade if you have the option. If not, just continue with the whip but make sure to scrape the bowl as you go along. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternating between the two, starting with the dry and finishing with the dry.
Split the cake batter equally in your cake pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. It is very important not to overcook the cakes since it would make them dry.
I like to wrap them in plastic wrap while still pretty hot and let come to room temperature. If time permits it I then freeze them overnight. I find that the cakes stay super moist using these little tricks.
This recipe will be enough for you to make 2 8" cakes. If you wish to make a higher cake like in my picture, you would need to double it.
After my cakes are baked and cooled, I torte them (cut them in the middle) and wet them generously with simple syrup. The traditional syrup calls for 1 part water and 1 part sugar. Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a light boil until the sugar dissolves completely. Let cool and use. I like wetting this chocolate cake with a syrup made of 2 parts almond milk to 1 part sugar. I prepare it the same way as the traditional simple syrup.
Chocolate hybrid cream
293 g sugar
83 g water
452 g margarine/shortening (butter if you can) at room temperature
545 g melted chocolate
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. While the sugar cooks put the eggs in a mixing bowl and start whipping them at medium-high speed. When the sugar mixture reaches a temperature of 237 F (114 C), reduce the speed of your mixer and carefully spill the sugar mixture along the side of the bowl. Bring back the speed to high and whip until the mixture is at room temperature (about 10 minutes). Add the room temperature butter and the melted chocolate and continue whipping until the cream is light and airy and completely uniform. You are now ready to fill and ice your cakes.
If you are making the drip, make sure that the chocolate sauce has completely cooled down but is still at a pourable consistency. Just pour over the cake and let drip over the sides.