It’s birthday party season around here! I made a Hazelnut birthday cake last week for Becca, and this past Friday I baked a Peanut Butter Cake for Talia’s birthday, and Julie’s birthday is coming up (her cake is planned and not going to be nut-themed, don’t worry, I do consume things without nuts these days!). I’ve been planning these cakes for awhile now; all three fabulous women gave me requests for flavors and specific ingredients, and then I got to play around with how to incorporate them and how to design the cakes to fit each person. I love coming up with ideas that match up, and then make the recipient so happy! Watching people eat my baked goods and enjoy them is really my favorite part of baking.
So for Talia’s birthday, she requested a dessert that had peanut butter in it. She also wanted it to not be sweetened with sugar, or to contain chocolate. Tall orders, right? And I’m vegan of course so I only bake that way, which never feels limiting – I just have to be more creative! So here’s what I had to go on: No sugar, no dairy products or eggs, no chocolate, yes peanut butter!
Hm. What to do? I knew exactly which agave-sweetened cake I was going to make, but I was a little stumped on the frosting. I’ve made frosting without sugar before, but it was a dark chocolate ganache-like frosting, or something more like a cashew glaze that I tried (and loved, but didn’t think was the most appropriate birthday cake topping). But since I couldn’t use chocolate, and I wanted a thick spreadable frosting to slather around the birthday cake, I went to my current cake-bible, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Of course they had just what I was looking for! The Super Natural Agave Icing with some added peanut butter would be perfect! I also used their Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe to make my cake base. For both of these recipes, I simply doubled the recipe in the book (and added peanut butter to the icing recipe; I’ve reprinted my adaptations below). I put an extra peanut butter filling in between the three layers of the cake, for added nut-taste-explosion. This filling kept the cake incredibly moist, and the whole thing pretty nearly melted in your mouth!
For her birthday, Talia invented a game for us to play…It was quite a stroke of brilliance! I’m not really a game person, but this one I could seriously get into! I can’t give away all the details about how to play, because I’m hoping Talia will copyright it and will strike it rich, and can support me and my baking for the rest of my life :-) Wouldn’t that be nice?
You may recognize the formatting here a little bit…Some of us are just a little obsessed with Craigslist! We were each given a few random silly phrases that we had to incorporate. This was one result of the game, which was written about me, and was so creative and on-the-fly that I have to share it with you! (Thank you Rachel!):
Ode to what just happened in my mouth – w4w – (living room)
with your crunchy hippie peanut butter
dotted like leopard print
i tried not to give my gasp away
not even a little hint
the flavors swirling ’round my mouth
i wanted to tell you how heavenly
the cake went into my tum
as cool as i am, didn’t know what to say
so i gave you a little wink
like a catchy bedazzled license plate
i got water from the sink
so maybe i’ll pretend it’s my birthday too
tomorrow and the day after that
you might accidentally make me a cake or 6
and i’ll give you a thank-you hat.
Cake Recipe: I used the Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I made no changes, just double the recipe so I could make three 9-inch cake layers.
Peanut Butter Creme Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth natural Peanut Butter
1/2 cup light agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tblsp. unsweetened almond milk
2 Tblsp. soy milk powder
Put Earth Balance and peanut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat for a minute or two, until smooth and well combined. Add the agave and vanilla, and continue mixing. Add the almond milk and soy milk powder and incorporate fully. You can add a little more soy milk powder or almond milk depending on how thin or thick you want the consistency to be. Spread in between layers of cakes!
Peanut Butter Agave Icing Ingredients (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World):
2/3 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
2/3 cup light agave nectar
1/3 cup refined, nonhydrogenated coconut oil
1 cup smooth natural Peanut Butter
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 4 Tblsp. plain soy milk powder
In a small saucepan, whisk together almond milk and arrowroot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, till mixture thickens into a puddinglike consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape mixture into a medium-size bowl with a heatproof spatula.
Add agave nectar and whisk till combined, then add coconut oil and vanilla extract and whisk again. Add Peanut Butter and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute until incorporated. Add soy milk powder, and beat for another 4-5 minutes, until creamy and smooth. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes until mixture is firm, or for best results, allow to chill overnight.