Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream - dairy free/vegan/gluten free

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (dairy free) with Coconut Whipped Cream (vegan & gluten free)

I made my mom bread, but I made my dad cake.

I knew I wanted to make my dad a birthday cake while he was here, but I didn't want it to be a tower of sugar and frosting (I know, I know. That would have been awesome). I've had a few recipes saved for chocolate cakes that use wine to add flavor and color, so I looked through what I had, picked the best of the lot, adapted it a bit, and made it. But you pretty much need frosting on a birthday cake or it's not a birthday cake. I wanted something light and not chocolate, so I went with a vanilla whipped cream made from coconut milk. I had good luck in the past with chocolate frosting using coconut milk, so I was eager to try it's vanilla cousin.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (dairy free)

Guys, this cake, this grown up red velvet cake, is good. It's intensely chocolatey, with a slight red tint, and you can still taste the wine in the finished product. And everyone knows wine and chocolate go together. Even better, you only need one bowl and ingredients you probably already have on hand. I admit, it's not the most impressive looking cake. It's only one, relatively small layer, but it sure packs a punch. Small slices satisfy, and they might even make you moan.

As a frosting, the coconut whipped cream is light and sweet and the perfect foil to the assertive chocolate+wine flavor of the cake. It's also great with fruit or on a spoon.

Coconut Whipped Cream (vegan & gluten free)

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (dairy free) with Coconut Whipped Cream (vegan & gluten free)
adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Oh, Ladycakes

This cake is a red velvet cake for grownups. I use the term "grownups" on purpose here, because the flavor of wine is distinct, even after baking. I made this for my dad's birthday, but it's not the recipe I'd reach for to make my cousin's 6th birthday cake. Now don't get excited, this cake will not make you drunk (at least by itself), but I recommend using a red wine you like because you're going to be able to taste it and because you're going to want to finish the bottle you opened, right? I used Cupcake's Red Velvet wine because it seemed appropriate.  I used Dutch process cocoa powder for the first time in this recipe, and it created a luscious chocolate flavor. For more on the difference between "regular" and Dutch process cocoa, check out Joy the Baker's excellent post about it. 

There's a whole internet conversation going on about coconut milk in various blog posts around interwebs. It seems not all coconut milk is created equal, and even if you only buy one brand and treat it the same every time, there's some variation. Thai Kitchen and 365 (Whole Foods Brand) seem to be the popular winners, though I've also read that Trader Joe's coconut cream works well, but I haven't tried it myself. I've had mixed results with 365. I've used Thai Kitchen less often, but it's solidified each time. I've had a couple cans of 365 that never solidified when refrigerated overnight, which is a bummer. Ashlae has written an entire post about it with a few suggestions to improve your chances. Not using this frosting recipe with this cake? Awesome. It's super adaptable. Add in some lemon zest, chocolate (here, I've done that for you), mashed raspberries, almond or mint extract, chocolate and mint extract... 

Red Wine Chocolate Cake - dairy free

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp (or 6 Tablespoons) vegetable oil (use room temperature butter or vegan butter if you'd like and cream well with the sugar)
3/4 cup (179 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine, any kind you like
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Coconut Whipped Cream Frosting - vegan & gluten free

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (see note)
1 teaspoon - 2 Tablespoons powdered cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (bonus points if you use real vanilla bean)

Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a greased 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and then grease the top of the parchment. You what you'd like, but I find pan spray the easiest thing in this case. 

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat the oil and sugars for a 2-3 minutes, in order to get as much air in there as possible. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your bowl of wet ingredients. I like to place my sifter on a small plate before adding the dry ingredients. Then, once I've emptied the sifter into the mixing bowl, I can dump whatever went through the mesh onto the plate into the bowl. 

Mix until mostly combined, and then fold the rest together gently with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top if necessary. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and set pan on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool this way for about 10 minutes, and then flip out of pan to cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. It's even easier to let it cool on whatever plate you are going to serve it on. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge for about a week. Powdered sugar looks pretty sifted on top. 

Make the coconut whipped cream:
Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of solid, white coconut fat into a decent sized mixing bowl (discard the coconut water or save it for smoothies if you'd like). Blend the chunks of coconut milk with a hand mixer on high speed for 15-20 seconds, or just until the mixture turns to liquid. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until combined. The amount of sugar you add here is going to do two things. One is add sweetness, obviously, but the other thing is that the sugar is going to help stiffen your frosting. For the batch I made to go with this cake (and photograph), I only used a teaspoon of sugar. It was fairly soft, and definitely didn't hold a strong shape. If you'd like a stiffer frosting, use closer to 2 tablespoons.  Add the vanilla extract and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and creamy. Whipped cream is best served immediately, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to three days. Depending on how much sugar you used, it may harden in the fridge, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high speed until creamy again.

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