07 October, 2011

Dairy Free, Organically Sweetened German Chocolate Cake

That's a LONG title, but this cake is definitely worth the fuss!!  If I thought it wouldn't have looked COMPLETELY stupid I would have added with Coconut Pecan Filling & Chocolate Frosting to the title, but that's a bit much...

*This is a recipe for an intermediate baker, but I believe that there's NO better time to start to try harder things than the present.  Read through the ingredient list before you begin and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand.  Things move pretty quickly once this gets started and you don't want to have to run to the store for eggs or some other such inconvenience.

Preheat oven to 350 F and make sure your racks are in the center of the height of the oven.  But if you know of hot spots or other such issues your oven has...then, by all means, plan accordingly.

Grease and flour two 10 in. round cake pans or three 8 in. round cake pans.  Set aside.  (You can use parchment paper for this instead if you wish.)

Put 1 T. of white vinegar into a glass measure then fill to 1 c. mark with unsweetened soy milk.  Let this sit for at least 5 minutes before using.  Stir occasionally until you're ready to use it.

1/2 c. Enjoy Life's semi sweet mini chocolate chips
2 1/4 c. King Arthur's Queen Guinevere Cake Flour
3/4 c. Bensdorp Dutch Process Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 c. boiling water
1 c. sour unsweetened soy milk
1 1/4 c. Earth's Balance vegan buttery sticks
2 1/4 c. organic, fair trade cane sugar
5 large organic, free range brown eggs
1 1/2 tsp. King Arthur's pure vanilla extract

Coconut Pecan Filling
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 c. organic, fair trade cane sugar
1 c. unsweetened soy milk
3 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 c. Earth's Balance vegan buttery sticks, cut into pieces
1 1/2 c. Now's unsweetened organic coconut

Chocolate Frosting
8 oz. Baker's unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. Bensdorp Dutch Process Cocoa
3/4 c. unsweetened soy milk
1/2 c. Earth's Balance vegan buttery sticks
3 c. organic, fair trade powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. King Arthur's pure vanilla extract

The frosting has to set up in the fridge then brought back to just under room temperature before it will be easy to work with, so we'll work the frosting first.

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water (if you have a double boiler system, use that), put the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, milk, and butter.  Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and beat in, with a hand mixer or wire whisk, the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.  If the frosting is lumpy, strain through a strainer to remove any lumps.  ( I didn't have to strain because I kept it "low and slow" on the stove.  Lumps really only happen if you overheat the chocolate)  Cover and place the frosting in the refrigerator until it is firm (this may take an hour or so, the cake will be done and cooled either way).  Once the frosting is firm remove from refrigerator and place in your mixing bowl.  Beat the frosting for a minute or two or until it is nice and smooth and of spreading consistency.  Set aside.

You'll need 2 or 3 bowls for the cake process...make sure you have 3 clean and available.

In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate (if you have a double boiler system, use it). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and sour soy milk.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy (this will take about 3-5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.  Add the boiling water/sour soymilk mixture and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the melted chocolate, do NOT use the hand mixer or stir it with a mixing spoon.

Divide the batter evenly among the two or three prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until "toothpick clean" (toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean) and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Butter or lightly spray a wire rack with a non stick vegetable spray before inverting the cakes onto the rack to prevent the cakes from sticking. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

For the coconut pecan filling coarsely chop pecan halves on a cutting board.  I always use my Pampered Chef food chopper for things like this.  It is quick and effective.  Then, in a medium saucepan combine the sugar, unsweetened soy milk, egg yolks and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly; allow it to boil while stirring for 2-3 minutes or until you start to notice it thickening and coating the spoon a bit.  Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped pecans, coconut, and vanilla extract. Let cool until spreadable.

To assemble the cake, first pick one of the cakes that looks like it has the least amount of dome to it.  Then with a cake leveler or a very LONG knife make the top of the cake as flat/level as you can.  This will be your bottom layer.  Spread 1/2 of the cooled coconut pecan filling over the top of this layer, but NOT all the way to the edge.  Leave 1/4 in. between the edge of the cake and the filling.  Then pipe a double layered ring (one on TOP of another) of your chocolate frosting around the very edge of the cake.  If your other cake isn't completely level, now is the time to level it out.  When you're ready, carefully place the second layer on top.  Repeat the steps to add the coconut pecan filling to the top of that layer.  Pipe more chocolate frosting into any spaces you still see between the layers.  Frost the edges of the cake with the chocolate frosting using an angled spatula if you have one.  If you don't...a butter knife will do just as well.  Frost the side of the cake starting from the bottom and working your way up.  Once you properly cover the sides you can leave it as is or pipe a decorative ring around the top...stars, waves, dots...lol...this is the fun part, so have fun.  When I put the pecan halves on top I dabbed a bit of chocolate frosting under them to help them stay in place.

I let my cakes "roominate" a bit before I cut into them.  In this case, I allowed it to sit for 4 hours before I cut into it.  This allows the middle filling and the side piping to really adhere to the cakes.

 This cake turned out UNbelievably moist, rich and I absolutely promise you that when you use the same quality ingredients that I used you will NOT be able to tell that this is dairy free and that it is made with vegan butter.  This cake is moderately dense but not as dense as pound cake.  It was also pleasant to note that even though there was an ENORMOUS amount of sweetening that went into this cake, I didn't feel like I needed a gallon of water to wash it down.  

German Chocolate Cake has always been a favorite for me...now that I found a way to work it into being dairy free, I believe my Sprout will be falling in love shortly as well.  This is NO doubt a time consuming venture, but it is WELL worth the fiddle farting around for what's at the end of this rainbow!!  Hope you love it!

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