Friday, December 16, 2022


Although I love developing new recipes and creating new flavour combinations, sometimes it feels good to go back to the classic, to that good old traditional chocolate and walnut cake. A little bit of nostalgia on a dessert plate, at least for me.
Quite similar to a cake I often had during childhood, this is a rich and hearty cake, full of toasted walnuts and dark chocolate, and a cloud of whipped cream on top. An utterly wholesome late autumn cake.
As many traditional cakes are, it is quite straightforward to prepare, with just a handful of ingredients, and a few hours of time, which is something I really appreciate. One of my favourite things about this kind of desserts is that they can be made while something else is cooking.
It is almost like they are so unassuming, so unobtrusive, yet so comforting and hearty. Just a wonderful experience, both in preparation and enjoyment.

For the chocolate cake
300 grams dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
240 grams vegan block butter, unsalted
300 grams dark brown sugar
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
300 grams vanilla soya yoghurt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
200 grams plain flour
50 grams very finely ground walnuts
½ teaspoon baking soda
For the filling
450 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
100 grams very finely ground toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
For the decoration
100 millilitres plant double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Start by making the chocolate 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 add 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 just a minute. Add in the butter and the chocolate, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Add in the finely ground walnuts, almost to the point of a spread, vanilla and salt, blend everything together with an immersion blender, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
While the filling is cooling down, make the cake layers. Break up the chocolate, dice the vegan butter, and add them to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the mixture slowly melt until it becomes smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat, add in the sugar and the cocoa powder, and mix well. Add in the vegan yoghurt and the vanilla, and once again mix well, until smooth. Finally, sift in the flour, ground walnuts, and the baking soda, and fold it through gently, until the majority of it has been incorporated, being careful not to overmix the batter.

Line four small round pans (15 cm) with baking parchment, distribute the batter equally between them, smooth it out, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 20 minutes. As every oven is slightly different, check the cakes early to make sure they are baked through, but not overbaked. If the toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, the cake is done. Once ready, remove it from the oven, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Once everything is ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cooled cake layers if needed, and place the first one on the cake platter. Divide the filling into three equal parts. Place a cake ring around the first layer, line it with a sheet of acetate, and tighten the ring. Spread one-third of the chocolate walnut filling over it, and top it with another cake layer. Continue stacking until all of the filling is used up, and top it with the remaining cake layer. Cover the top with cling film, or a piece of baking parchment, and place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Just before serving, whip the plant cream into soft peaks, with the addition of cocoa powder and icing sugar to taste; remove the cake from the refrigerator, remove the ring and the acetate, and carefully spread cream on the sides and the top and serve. Yields 16 servings.

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