Wednesday, June 23, 2021

VEGAN CARAMEL ESPRESSO DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE

When it comes to celebration cakes, my choice will always be a tall cake, with as many thin layers as possible. A cake where the layers and filling melt and almost disappear into one another.
This cake is just like that, with its soft espresso chocolate cake layers, fudge frosting, rich caramel topping, and a shiny ganache glaze. Fifteen whole layers of pure luxury in a dessert form.
Espresso intensifies those wonderful rounded, warm undertones of the chocolate, deep, dark chocolate bar gives the filling an almost bitter chocolate bite, and the sweet caramel swirl nicely balances the overall cake flavour.
This caramel sauce in particular is made slightly runnier than usual sauces, simply because I love how well it complements the fudge filling. And just like any runny sauce, it almost blends into the layer above it, intensifying the fudge texture of the cake.
It is best served very well chilled or even slightly frozen, with a cup of espresso, or even a glass of caramel liquor, if that is your preference.


Ingredients
For the chocolate fudge cake layers
300 grams plain flour
10 grams cornflour
35 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
350 grams brown sugar
450 millilitres boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
120 millilitres sunflower oil
30 millilitres apple cider vinegar
For the chocolate cream filling
500 millilitres soy milk
80 grams cornflour
120 grams brown sugar
120 grams vegan block butter, diced
150 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
For the vegan caramel sauce
150 grams granulated sugar
150 millilitres plant double cream
40 grams vegan block butter, diced
¼ teaspoon salt
For the decoration
50 grams dark chocolate (80% cocoa solids)
75 millilitres plant double cream
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preparation
The evening before making the cake, make the vegan caramel sauce. Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, shake it well to distribute it, and place it over medium heat. Let the sugar heat up slowly, only gently swirling the pan, without any stirring. This part requires a bit of patience and waiting, to make sure it is melted and cooked, but not burnt. Once the sugar becomes a wonderfully amber in colour, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add in the diced butter, being very careful, because it will bubble up. Stir vigorously until blended, and add in the cream and the salt. Stir until everything is combined well, returning to the heat for a few moments, if necessary. Remove from the heat and transfer to a container so it can cool down completely. Once cooled, place it into the refrigerator until needed. This is not a thick caramel sauce, and it will be perfect to drizzle over the filling.
The following day, start by making the chocolate cream filling, as it needs time to cool down. Pour the soy milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sift in the cornflour and the plain flour, and tip in the sugar. Whisk well, place the pan over medium-high heat, and let it slowly heat up. As soon as the milk starts to steam, start whisking. Let the mixture come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until it starts resembling a custard. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute or so. Add in the butter and the chocolate, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Blend in vanilla and salt, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
While the filling is cooling down, make the cake layers. Take a large bowl, and sift in the plain flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, instant espresso, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in the sugar and mix very well. Bring the water to a rolling boil, remove from heat, and set it aside for just a few moments. Line eight small round baking pans (15 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set them aside.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; add in the oil, vanilla, and the vinegar, and then the hot water. Whisk until incorporated and divide the batter between the prepared pans. This is best done by weight. Immediately bake the cakes in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 6-8 minutes, or until done. Check the cakes with a toothpick, making sure they do not overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then turn them onto a large wire rack and let them cool down to room temperature.
When the filling is cool to the touch, whip it with an electric mixer on high, until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes, until it becomes lighter and easier to spread. When everything is ready, start assembling the cake.
Level the cake layers if needed, and place the first one on the cake platter. Be additionally careful with them, because they will be quite soft and perhaps lightly sticky. Place a cake ring around the first layer, line it with a tall sheet of acetate, and tighten the ring so it stays in place. Divide the chocolate cream filling into seven equal parts. Reserve a few tablespoons of caramel for decoration, and divide the rest into four parts. Add a portion of the filling over the cake, level it gently, drizzle a part of the vegan caramel sauce over it, and place another cake layer on top. Place another cake layer, followed by a portion of the filling, but this time, omit the caramel, as it should go only on the odd layers. Continue stacking the cake in this fashion, until all of the layers and filling are used up. Cover the top with cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
When the cake is ready, proceed with the decoration. Melt together the dark chocolate and double cream, either over low heat or in the microwave, add vanilla, and stir it through. Set it aside for a few minutes, so it cools down. Once ready, spread the glaze over the top of the cake, letting some drip down the sides. If desired, add a drizzle of the leftover caramel sauce, or some whipped plant-based double cream, and serve. Yields 20 servings. © Tina Vesić 2021

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