Friday, January 26, 2024

VEGAN MINI CHOCOLATE WALNUT CAKE

Growing up, I didn’t really comprehend the excitement around walnut cakes, mainly because there was only one chocolate walnut cake being made for every occasion, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Only later, when I started baking, did I understand how delicious a walnut cake can be.
Toasted walnuts, plenty of cocoa powder, and just a hint of coffee truly make for an amazing cake pairing. And combined with thin and soft cake layers and lots of dark and milk chocolate shavings, it is a dessert lover's dream in a miniature cake form. A really lovely everyday little vegan cake that is a great compliment to any brunch or an after-lunch treat.
I chose to peel walnuts to make the filling lighter in colour, but you do not have to, the cake will be perfectly delicious either way. Serve it with freshly brewed coffee and enjoy!


Ingredients
For the soft chocolate layers
150 grams plain flour
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon instant coffee granules
120 grams granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
45 millilitres vegetable oil
200 millilitres carbonated water
For the walnut filling
300 grams cold soy milk
40 grams cornflour
90 grams light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dark rum
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
120 grams vegan block butter
300 grams ground toasted walnuts

Preparation
Start by making the custard for the filling. Pour the soy milk into a large saucepan, add in the cornflour, sugar, rum, and vanilla, blend well, and place it over medium-high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, start stirring vigorously, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it cooks into a glossy custard. Remove from the heat, pour it into a large bowl, and add in the cubed vegan block butter. Let it stand for a minute, and then whip it well using an electric mixer on high. Mix until everything blends together, cover the top with a piece of cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the cake layers, start by turning the oven to preheat to 180°C. Take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, and the baking powder. Whisk them together, and then add in the sugar and blend well. Pour the carbonated water, oil, and vanilla over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk until just blended. Prepare a square baking pan (18x18 cm) by lining the bottom and sides with baking parchment.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap lightly on the counter, and bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for 12-15 minutes, checking for doneness early, so it remains soft as possible. As soon as a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean, it is done. Remove it from the oven and let it cool in the cake pan completely.
Once the custard and the cake are cool to the touch, whip the custard with an electric mixer on high, so it becomes smooth and spreadable. Add in the ground walnuts and blend very well. Place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Level the cake, if needed, and gently slice it in half crosswise and lengthwise, to create four thin rectangular layers. Take the chilled filling out of the refrigerator and set aside about a quarter of it, to frost the cake. Divide the remaining filling into three equal parts.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, add a third of the walnut filling, top with another layer and repeat until everything is used up. Cover the top and the sides with the reserved filling, and place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Serve well chilled with strong coffee. Yields 10 rich servings.

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