Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quick & Easy Chocolate Cake (with Raw Vegan Soft Serve)

I am so not supposed to be baking. And I'm certainly not supposed to be eating what I bake. But it's mid-January. High time for the new years resolutions to go by the wayside, no?

I'm kidding. I've not forgotten my pledge to consume less sugar in 2012. But to be fair, I never said I was going to consume no sugar in 2012. So technically I'm not breaking anything. Right?!

This is turning into a textbook case of addiction. I'm going to press on anyway.

We had friends over for dinner last week and I don't feel right about not serving dessert when I cook for people. The fact that it was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting was totally my fault, though, as I've been craving it for what seems like an eternity. I'm sure I could have done something healthier with fruit. But I didn't.

Anyway, I chose this recipe because our dinner date was on a weeknight and I didn't have time on my side. It comes from Vegan Express and much to my drooling over the last couple years, it's featured prominently on the cover of the book. While Vegan Express has guaranteed that many quick dinners have made their way to my kitchen table, I hadn't tried anything from the dessert section until this cake. Vegan Express is the book I tend to grab when it's just me and Paul trying to survive the work week. Since we never have luxuries like cakes and sweets when it's just the two of us (see, I'm not that much of a sugar monster!), I've never really had the need to get a dessert together quickly.

And come together quickly it does. So quickly, in fact, that I made it on my lunch break and frosted it just before our guests arrived in the evening.

It's just what you want out of a chocolate cake - moist and rich, the icing is a firm alternative to the traditional buttercreams that frost the majority of chocolate cakes and is made from dark chocolate, almond milk and a spoonful of peanut butter for good measure, this cake is the ideal end to a spicy dinner (we had chipotle sweet potato enchiladas). Perfect with a glass of ice cold unsweetened almond milk the next day, too.

And as a side note to this chocolate cake, I want to say a little something about homemade vegan soft serve, because what is better with chocolate cake than a little bit of ice cream?

Cakes themselves are enough of an indulgence. Adding ice cream to them crosses a line. At least for us sugar-limiting folks. Unless it's homemade raw vegan soft serve!

Vegan ice creams are delicious, don't get me wrong, and when you really want to treat yourself to something similar to the non-vegan ice creams of your youth, there is nothing wrong with them. The problem comes when they stop being treats and start becoming habits. It's problematic not just for our health, but for our pocketbooks too, as they don't come cheap without a coupon or some sort of supermarket blowout sale.

Making vegan soft serve at home will cost you under $1.00 per single serving, saving you money while providing an icy treat with less calories than pretty much all of its freezer aisle counterparts. Certainly less than any kind of traditional non-vegan ice cream! There is also the added bonus of avoiding artificial flavours and refined sugars.

All you need is a banana and a food processor. No sugar. Not even any milk, really, unless you want to thin it out a bit.

You freeze the banana and then give it a whirl in the food processor until it achieves the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Then you eat it. Done.

You will be so surprised at how deliciously refreshing this is. It's great on it's own, but you can also make it in different flavours. For vanilla, add a dash of vanilla extract. For chocolate, a little cocoa or cacao powder. Frozen fruit works great, too (especially strawberries!). Peanut butter, mint extract, maple syrup. Fresh walnuts or pecans for topping. My personal favourite involves adding a scoop of pureed pumpkin and a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips. The possibilities of this cheap and easy vegan ice cream are endless! These days, we even opt out of ice cream when we make milk shakes, using pureed frozen bananas instead.

One banana yields about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of this soft serve, depending on the size of the banana. For best results, always use a food processor and not a blender. Especially not a high-power blender. My BlendTec in particular tends to completely liquify frozen bananas, which is a sign that it's a great blender, but is not what I want out of my soft serve ice cream. It's great for milkshakes, though!

You can find the recipe for the chocolate cake and frosting here as well as in the Vegan Express cookbook.


Sarah B @ Bake + Bike said...

Yesss banana soft-serve with cake is such a treat.

My favourite is with a bit of vanilla extract and cinnamon!

Kim said...

Oh holy mother of all that is good and chocolate... that looks *so* good. Trying to do a chocolate free month and this is awfully tempting.
Love the soft serve, I just recently discovered it. What a fun little treat =)

Mary said...

Sarah - Cinnamon! Haven't tried that yet...I'll have to add it to the list :)

Kim - I was back and forth over whether or not I should post it at all, since so many people are trying to stick to their resolutions and I'm horrible for tempting them...I can be such a bad influence!

Deb said...

I wonder how well the soft serve would work with an ice cream maker. I don't have a food processor, but do have an ice cream maker that I keep in the freezer...

Maybe I could freeze and thaw the bananas, then re-freeze them? I'm not sure how the texture would be by just mashing fresh bananas first.

Mary said...

Deb - Hmmm good question! I've never used an ice cream maker before so I have no idea how it would work. The frozen bananas lose some of their "banana" taste and instead taste like whatever else you put in there with them (i.e. vanilla, cocoa powder, etc.) mixed with ice. Using thawed mashed bananas would make it taste more banana-like, I would think, but I honestly don't know...worth a try!

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