Archive for the 'Chocolate' Category



I’ve Got My Eye On You…

What do you get when you add your chocolate-loving housemate’s birthday, a request for Raspberry Blackout Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, and an only-sometimes-functioning-oven? Add into the mix an emergency run to the nearest TJ’s for dark chocolate chips, an extra pair of hands for rolling, and a lot of freezer space?

Cake Balls!

Now, I will tell you honestly that Cake Balls are delicious and worth the time spent making them no matter whether you’re whipping them up from scratch for the sole purpose of eating a perfectly crunchy outer shell with moist soft cake inside, or if you’re problem-solving a baked cake that wouldn’t detach from the pan like I was. Cake Balls are bite-sized, tasty, cute no matter how they are decorated, and pretty hip right now. Why not?

However fun these birthday desserts were, I am so glad our new oven is being delivered today! No more baking “disasters”!

Chocolate Raspberry Marbled Cupcakes

These cupcakes look beautiful and received “wows!” from kids and adults alike. If you have favorite chocolate and vanilla cupcake recipes, then these cupcakes couldn’t be easier to make. Find your favorite recipes* (as long as they have a similar batter consistency) and make them in separate bowls. You can about a cup of raspberry jam to the vanilla batter, and mix it in thoroughly. When you are ready to put the batter into the paper liners, use two 1/4 cup sized measuring cups and take a scoop of each flavor batter each measuring cup. Pour the batter into the paper liners from each measuring cup at the same time  (one into each half of the liners) until the liners are 3/4 of the way full. Use a butter knife to swirl the batter around, or you can leave it half-and-half if you like that effect. Follow your cupcake recipe for baking times (usually cupcakes bake for 20-22 minutes). I topped my cupcakes with a Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting (by adding raspberry jam to my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe). Top with curls of chocolate and a fresh raspberry, and you’re set to impress!

*I used the basic vanilla and chocolate cupcake recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.

Under The Sea

Ariel: [singing] Up where they walk / Up where they run / Up where they stay all day in the sun / Wanderin’ free / Wish I could be / Part of that world…

In the midst of wedding cake preparation craze, I have baked a sweet treat to take to my friends Kate and Lesley’s birthday party. And, more miraculously, I have found the time to take pictures and post them with a recipe for you, before the event! I am never this timely with my posts, sometimes waiting days or even weeks before posting the recipe and pictures. However, somehow I have managed to get these uploaded onto the computer and they’re itching to get to your screens, eyes, kitchens, ovens, and finally into your mouths and bellies.

The party is taking place at a local lake (okay, okay, so “Under The Lake” would probably be a more correct title for this post…), and I know these fabulous women from my elementary teaching credential program, so it seems like a fitting occasion to bust out my Little Mermaid cupcake wrappers and crack a few smiles when I deliver them tomorrow! Hopefully, the cupcakes will also crack a few smiles on my friends’ faces and in their tummies – one of them is gluten-free, so these cupcakes are too. A crunchy rich Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcake topped with a Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting, and extra toasted hazelnut crumbs sprinkled on top…Well, I can’t imagine a better birthday dessert!

Scuttle: It’s a dinglehopper. Humans use these little babies… to straighten their hair out. See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You’ve got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.

Ariel: Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? / Wouldn’t ya think my collection’s complete / Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl / Girl who has everything / Look at this trove, treasures untold / How many wonders can one cavern hold? / Looking around you’d think / Sure, she’s got everything / I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty / I have whoozits and whatzis galore / You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty / But who cares? No big deal / I want more.

I have a few reliable fall-back gluten-free cake recipes that I always use. However, I wanted to add a hazelnut twist to a chocolate cupcake, and to do that I wanted to add both hazelnut meal (to get a little crunch) and hazelnut butter (to disburse and reinforce the flavor). I had to change the amount of liquid, oil, and flours to accommodate for the nut butter addition to the recipe, and I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I put these babies into the oven. When I was finally brave enough (and couldn’t stand the suspense anymore!) I peeked into the oven…and the cupcakes had risen beautifully, created lovely cracked tops, and didn’t show any signs of sinking down middle syndrome! They are a little dense because of the hazelnut butter, but dense in a good way, if you know what I mean. Like, nutella-dense. Mmm.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcake Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/3 cup hazelnut butter
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 Tblsp. ground flax seed
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup toasted hazelnut meal
1/3 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tsp. xantham gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Pre-heat your oven to 350º F. Place cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin. Set aside.

Measure out your almond milk into a medium sized bowl, and add the vinegar. Mix vigorously, and set aside to curdle. Once it is curdled, add the oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and mix to combine.

In a large bowl, sift the tapioca flour, cocoa powder, sorghum flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the xantham gum, flax seed, and hazelnut meal. Stir together so everything is evenly distributed.

Create a well in the dry ingredients, and pour the wet mix into it. Mix with an electric mixer, or by hand with a whisk until there are no lumps. Because this is a gluten-free recipe, you don’t have to worry about mixing too much. Once there are no more lumps, add the hazelnut butter by the spoonful, and continue mixing until the batter reaches a smooth consistency.

Fill your cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Sebastian: Ariel, please! Will you get your head out of the clouds and back in the water where it belongs?

Look at these beautiful brown toasty hazelnuts:

Ariel: I’ve never seen a human this close before. Oh… he’s very handsome, isn’t he?
[Scuttle looks at the dog and scratches his neck]
Scuttle: I don’t know, he looks kind of hairy and slobbery to me.
Ariel: No, not that one. The one playing the snarfblatt.

Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup Earth Balance shortening, room temperature
3/4 cup Tofutti Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Beat the margarine, shortening, and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. When you have a smooth, fluffy consistency, add the vanilla bean paste and confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time. Mix until fully combined. Add more sugar if you want a thicker frosting, but be aware that it can get quite sweet quickly!

I piped the frosting directly onto the cupcakes, and then sprinkled some extra hazelnut meal on top to make a pretty addition, as well as add some extra flair and crunch to every bite.

Sebastian: Down here all the fish is happy / As off to the waves they roll / The fish on the land ain’t happy / They sad ’cause they in the bowl / But fish in the bowl is lucky / They in for a worser fate / One day when the boss get hungry…
Fish: Guess who gonna be on the plate?

Salted Caramel Cupcakes


I recently ate at a vegan chocolate truffle shop in New York City. One of my favorite flavors, although not incredibly original like their other choices, was their salted caramel truffle. Messy, sticky, gooey, it was a perfect combination of sweet, salty, and dark chocolate. I had to recreate it in cupcake form when I returned from my vacation.

This is what my friends thought about the cupcakes:

Becca: Yum yum yum

Zoe: Intense rich chocolate flavor

Both Zoe and Becca: The caramel was to die for!

Rosa and Rachel thought these were the best cupcakes they’d ever eaten, hands down.

Julie: The caramel was like taffy and perfect. The chocolate cupcake was intense and not too sweet. A nice chocolatey-ness. The caramel was gooey and chewy and I couldn’t stop eating it!

Just thinking about these cupcakes again made all of us hungry, and we had to make a snack!


Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
4 Tblsp. very dark, or black, cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup caramel (recipe below)

Caramel Ingredients:
1 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 cup brown sugar
¼ almond milk

Note: Make the Caramel before you make the cupcake batter.

To make the caramel:
Melt the Earth Balance margarine in a saucepan over a medium flame. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Allow the caramel to begin boiling and bubbling, and stir intermittently until it thickens considerably. Meanwhile, heat the almond milk in a small pot until warm or hot to the touch. When the caramel is as caramelized as you would like, add the heated milk and stir rapidly until fully combined. Turn off the burner but allow pot to sit over the heated stove and preheating oven while you prepare cupcake batter.

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat your oven to 350º F. Line a twelve-muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powders, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl combine the almond milk, oil, maple syrup, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat this wet combination until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing as you go. Beat until there are no lumps.
Fill your cupcake tins just under ¾ of the way full. Now it is time to spoon about a tablespoon of caramel onto the top of each cupcake. Dollop the caramel in, and let it rest on the top of the cupcake.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes sit in the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (Earth Balance brand is good)
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup caramel, or to taste (see recipe above)
3 pinches of rock salt, or to taste, to put on top of your finished cupcakes

Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.
Add 2 cups of sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Don’t add the third cup of sugar yet, until after you add the caramel when you can decide if you want the frosting to be sweeter or fluffier.
Add the vanilla and the caramel, and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. If the frosting has a weird lumpy consistency because of adding a warm caramel to the cold margarine and shortening, then you can mix everything together and then refrigerate for about a half hour. Take out of the fridge, and whip using an electric mixer until you have a fluffy consistency. Add more sugar if you want a thicker frosting, but be careful to not make it too sweet since the caramel already has a good amount of sugar in it. Pipe onto the tops of your cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle rock salt over the tops, and enjoy!

Fallback on the Favorites

I thought I was going to have more time. But no. Lots of work to do, lots of fun to be had! I’ve been saving this post for about a week, and a certain sweet someone (cough-Julie-cough) has been asking about these cupcakes. I baked two types of cupcakes for a friend to take to a birthday party, and I baked an extra batch of each for another birthday party I was attending. Coincidentally, both friends were named Sara!

One of the Sara’s requested White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes, and while brainstorming a chocolate-y flavor for my second batch I remembered the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I remembered that I made them a few years ago, they were very good, and Zoe took one home and stuck it in her refrigerator. I went out of town for about a month, and on one of my last days on vacation I received a message from Zoe in which she was describing all the amazing flavors of this cupcake that she had saved…for a month! And she sounded practically orgasmic, as she ate it. I still can’t believe the cupcake lasted that long, or how ridiculous that message was. So, I thought I should probably recreate these incredible cupcakes, and hope they came out just as good.

The recipe is just as it was in VCTOTW so I won’t copy it here, but dark chocolate, cinnamon, a hint of spicy cayenne pepper, crunchy cornmeal granulates, and a fluffy vanilla butter cream frosting piped on top – mmm! They were just as I remembered them, and I even gave one to Zoe! She’ll have to comment on this post in about a month and let us all know if it lived up to her memories!

Double Chocolate Coconut Stracciatella

Here’s a short and sweet post for you all on a busy Tuesday night…

It’s springtime and that means it’s definitely time to bust out your ice cream maker. Or ice cream makers (plural). The electric ones, the hand-crank ones, even the ziploc bags filled with ice that you shake for a couple hours (or have a classroom filled with children shake and throw around the room to their utter delight). Whatever your preferred method of ice cream-making is, please heed this advice, and do it. I was inspired by Double Chocolate Straccieatella with a coconut milk base (you can find the incredible recipe here), and it lived up to, and perhaps even exceeded, my expectations. Rich and creamy, very chocolatey, lick your bowl till the bitter end, kind of ice cream. I’m leaving my ice cream maker’s freezer bowl where it belongs (in the freezer) permanently from now on. Ice cream all the time, I say!

You Know It’s Been A Successful “Love and Justice”-Filled Passover When…

  • You’ve had Dayenu stuck in your head all day
  • You spent the whole day cooking…or thinking and talking about cooking…
  • You’ve discussed so many different ideas for how to go through the Haggadah, cutting and pasting from here and there, including what’s important for each family member and each guest, and trying to incorporate as many radical ideas as possible. And after the seder, you realize that what’s most important was the people there being all together around the table, celebrating liberation, freedom, justice, resistance, and thinking about oppression – mostly through consumption of various foods
  • You have matzo coming out of your ears
  • You’ve discussed the social implications of including Ladino and Judeo-Arabic text in your readings
  • You have 4 half-empty bottles of Manischewitz wine on your counter – each a different flavor (did you know they made Cherry? And Blackberry?)
  • You made it through the whole night without breaking any wine glasses! (Even with KROK here, so it’s pretty much a Passover miracle).
  • You waited impatiently for hours during the Maggid (the telling of the Passover Story), asking yourself questions such as: Why is there an orange on the seder plate? Why are there olives? Why is there a baked sweet potato on it too? (Okay, clearly this was not the most traditional of seders…). Is it totally violating my vegan-ethics and morals to eat a matzo ball? As Jews, what is our commitment to social justice? How can I embody these anti-racist, politically progressive, humor- and reflection-filled values in my everyday life? Do I use the feminine or masculine form of this prayer? How does the feminine version go – and what does it mean that I don’t know it off the top of my head, like I know the masculine version? How many more cups of wine do I get to drink? Where did my mom hide that afikomen? She hasn’t even stood up from the table yet but it’s nowhere in sight!
  • You’ve stuffed yourself full (and perhaps eaten double your entire body’s weight) of:

Matzo Brittle! This is the batch from this year. Here’s the batch from last year, and here is lovely Hannah’s recipe for this delicious and addicting Kosher-for-Passover treat.

*Also, if you’re looking for a fabulous progressive, inspiring, interesting, “choose your own adventure”-type Haggadah, you can download the Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah here for free. It is a great resource, moving, and very important and very inclusive.

Rachel’s Gorgeous Birthday Cake

Happy Belated Birthday, Rachel!

My friend Rachel adapted one of my recipes to make herself a birthday cake – and look how gorgeous it is! She loves bright colors and she really knew how to create an all-naturally colored neon dessert. I’m so glad I could provide inspiration for the recipe and so glad she sent me a picture! She used my recipe for Orange Chocolate Avocado Cake but instead of using the orange juice that I put in she used water (like the original recipe calls for), and she didn’t put any cocoa powder in, so that she could still see the bright green hue of the avocado (if you click the link above, there is a photograph of what the batter looked like before I added the cocoa – what a lovely green color!). Rachel told me that she simply substituted extra flour for the cocoa powder (same proportion) and that it worked pretty well but was a little spongy and chartreus-yellow. I think if you wanted to recreate this, and have it be a bit more fluffy, you could add a tiny bit of extra baking powder and a little cornstarch and the consistency may improve. I’m not an expert though, and recipe tweaking always takes a little experimentation.

Rachel also used my recipe for Dark Chocolate Ganache, and she said together it tasted insanely delicious. She creatively decorated her cake with lemons and pistachios, what a great idea!

Here’s Rachel’s cake for inspiration:

Raspberry Blackout Cake

I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (in a vegan manner, of course): A birthday cake and a wedding cake test of sorts. It was Dennis’ birthday, and so of course I was going to bake him something! I sat down with about 13 cookbooks in front of me (while watching Grey’s Anatomy…two of my favorite things, baking and medical dramas). I searched high and low for a cake that would satisfy a chocolate lover. Originally I was looking for something with nuts but this cake caught my eye – and then I remembered I’m also supposed to be wedding cake testing for my friends’ wedding to be held this summer. Their first request matched up with this cake recipe perfectly. I had to choose it, and I’m so glad I did!

I baked a three-layer birthday cake, and had extra batter that I baked into cupcake form for the taste-test. I spread raspberry jam in between the layers of the cake and then drizzled dark chocolate ganache on top of the jam, and then of course spread a thick layer of ganache over the top of the cake letting it spill down the sides. For the cupcakes, I piped raspberry jam into the center, topped the cakes with fresh raspberries, and gave my friends a container of the ganache to spread or dip their cupcakes into when they ate them – the consistency just wasn’t right to pipe on top as I had hoped it would be (however, the next day it was perfect for spreading…Just needed to be cooled completely).

This vegan cake reinterprets a classic complimentary pairing: chocolate and raspberry. Three layers of dark chocolate cake covered with chocolate ganache are balanced by the luscious summer taste of raspberries. The cake is moist and fudgy, holds together really well, and slices perfectly. It wasn’t too heavy (although it was certainly dense), and even just a few bites satisfied all chocolate-lovers involved. The consensus as I interpreted it was that this cake was delicious, a great wedding cake option, but perhaps needs to be a little lighter (not as dense and fudgy), and would be great with a white chocolate frosting on the outside – that’s what I had originally thought, and this taste-test confirmed. It is now on my list to be my next wedding cake experiment! First, to find vegan white chocolate…

Raspberry Blackout Cake Ingredients***:
Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (10 oz.) jar raspberry preserves (reserve 1/2 cup for the batter)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
Fresh raspberries for decorating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch round springform cake pans with cooking spray. If you don’t have springform then use parchment paper rounds on the bottom of two ordinary 8-inch round cake pans to prevent sticking.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the rice milk, oil, 1/2 cup of the preserves, the vanilla, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix with a hand mixer or strong fork. The jam should be mostly dissolved with the rest of the ingredients; some small clumps are okay. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until everything is incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans.

When the cakes have cooled fully, spread one layer of cake with a thin layer of the preserved raspberry preserves (give the preserves a quick mix with a strong fork to get a spreadable consistency); spread or drizzle a layer of chocolate frosting on top of the preserves. Place the other layer of cake on top and spread its top with preserves. Carefully spread the chocolate frosting over the top, then ice the sides. I like to put a circle of fresh raspberries around the circumference of the top. If you happen to have a decorating bag and tips around, you can alternate a rosebud or star flourish with a raspberry, and a few raspberries in the center will finish it off. Makes 12 servings.

***Make 1 1/2 times the recipe above if you want to make a three-layer cake as I did.

Chocolate Ganache-y Frosting Ingredients:
3/4 cup almond milk
6 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
10 oz semisweet chocolate chips

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the almond milk to a low boil. Add the Earth Balance and melt, turn off the heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Let sit for at least 1 hour. It should still have a pourable consistency at this point. If you want a spreadable consistency then refrigerate for an hour (If you refrigerate it for more than a few hours, it sets too much to spread easily, so you will need to reheat it, then let it sit at room temperature before using.)

PB&C, My Favorite Combination

Is anyone getting sick of me posting about chocolate and peanut butter combinations? I know I’ve gone a little overboard at times, but they really are my favorite flavors and when combined, totally hit the spot. And can I help it if they also happen to be the favorite flavors of some of my favorite people, too? On Wednesday, my brother came home from nearly two years abroad, and we had a welcome home dinner party for him – he happens to love chocolate and peanut butter, and so did many of our guests (does anyone remember the decadence of Zoe’s birthday cake?). I had been eyeing this recipe from Isa’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows. The benefit of making these cookies when you’re about to have a dinner party is you can make them at the last minute, and it becomes a good activity for early-arrivals – you need lots of hands to roll all the little balls of peanut butter batter and cover them in dark chocolate cookie dough. Luckily, I have lovely friends who are happy to help out (and happy to do a lot of tasting along the way!). Make a double batch, and you’ll have enough for the party, the days following, enough to send as a birthday present to a friend out of town, enough for the friend doing the out-of-state delivery, and enough to give as little gifts to special people in your life. There is no end to these cookies…except, sadly, after giving them all away and watching them disappear as your little brother/garbage disposal consumes them in handfuls. Cute.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ©cookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!