Triple Chocolate Vegan Cake

Moist, fluffy, decadent, chocolate cake! Plus, it’s vegan! All around win amiright. I frosted this with a simple chocolate frosting and topped with a three ingredient ganache! This is a multi-purpose cake and perfect for any occasion where a chocolate cake is needed. The cake itself is easy to make and the frosting is just the right amount of chocolate to sweet ratio. It’s more dense than a box mix but that’s also because it’s a real cake. Cake should make you feel like you actually ate something. It’s meant to be decadent and satisfying. You should finish that slice and know that you ate cake.

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This cake is delicious and completely customizable based on how chocolaty you want to get. Skip the ganache and just go frosting finish or skip the top layer of frosting and just pour on some ganache! Totally up to you and your chocolate needs. However, I highly recommend pouring on the ganache over the frosting because it adds both aesthetic and a fudge-like layer.

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For my ganache and really all of my vegan chocolate needs I use the EnjoyLife brand. It’s in most grocery stores here in the US and it’s one of the more affordable ones out there. You can also get the new Nestle vegan chocolate which is also good but a little harder to find.

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A tip for pouring ganache over frosted cake: dip your clean finger into the ganache and test to see if it’s hot, warm, or nearly room temp. If the ganache is too warm it’ll just melt your frosting off the cake and you’ll have a sad looking mess. Sure, you could use a thermometer to test the temp of your ganache, but what’s the fun in that.

Bake the cake layers ahead, let them cool to room temp on a wire rack then wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze the layers prior to frosting. Make sure to freeze them on a flat surface though so that they don’t come out warped. Why freeze them? It makes frosting soooo much easier and mess free. A warm cake or even one that’s at room temp has the tendency to rip when you’re smoothing out the frosting. A frozen cake won’t give you as many crumbs. In my experience I’ve frosted frozen cake layers in the morning and by noon the cake was room temp and ready to slice. Maybe around 4 hours to thaw at room temperature.

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Chocolate chocolate chocolate cake

All the chocolate in and on this vegan decadent dessert! The recipe is simple and takes very little cake expertise to make a delicious and beautiful cake.
Servings – 12 Big Slices

Equipment

  • 2 9″ cake pans

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (GW is an easy to find vegan brand)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened oatmilk (can sub for soy or almond milk)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract (can omit but does add to the flavor)
  • 1 cup boiling water (added at the end)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is the brand I use)

Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar (GW is a vegan brand)
  • 4 Tbl cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbl unsalted butter, room temperature (I use Earth Balance)
  • 3-5 Tbl unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use oatmilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ganache Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (chips or chopped )
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use oatmilk but you can use canned coconut)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

The Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9″ cake pans using coconut oil or shortening. Cut rounds of parchment paper to line the bottom of the cake pan, place in the pan, grease the top of the parchment paper. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour into the pan and turn while patting the pan to lightly coat the entire inside with flour. (See explanation below as to why this step is important).
  • Add apple cider vinegar to the milk, stir, and set aside. This step is creating a “buttermilk” that will add to both flavor and rise.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients. You can simply whisk them together; however, sifting ensures a more even mix and breaks up any clumps. This step is part of making a cake fluffy and evenly colored. When making a flavored cake like this I’ll sift the dry ingredients twice.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the milk, apple sauce, vanilla, almond extract, and melted oil.
  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and measure out the 1/4 cup dark chocolate. Set aside.
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry for only a few folds. Mixture should still look dry.
  • Add the chocolate chips, pour the boiling water on top of them, fold until batter is smooth. The key is to stop folding as soon as the batter looks evenly mixed. Overmixing cake batter leads to a tough and overly dense cake.
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pans. Divide evenly.
  • Bake cakes on middle rack for 30-35 minutes. An inserted tooth pick or cake tester should come out clean.
  • Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto a wire cooling rack. Might need a butter knife around the edge to ensure clean depanning. Peel off the parchment paper. Invert onto a lightly oiled wire cooling rack so that the bottom or flat part of the cake is on the rack. Let cool completely, roughly 2 hours, before wrapping to freeze or frost.

The Frosting

  • Cut butter into small portions, less than a tablespoon each. Measure out all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whip until mixed and fluffy. With frosting always start with the lowest amount of milk first and add as needed.
  • Frosting can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The Ganache

  • Make the ganache after the cake has been frosted or just prior to frosting.
  • Measure out the 8 ounces of dark chocolate. Small chips, like Enjoy life, don’t need to be chopped; however, if you are using a chocolate bar you will need to rough chop for easy melting.
  • Heat milk in a sauce pan until just beginning to simmer. You don’t want to bring it to a boil. Turn off heat. Add chocolate and vanilla. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let cool at room temperature before pouring onto cake.
  • Many ganache recipes call for additional sugar. I skip the sugar, because the cake and frosting already has enough sweet. The bitter flavor of the dark chocolate is a pleasant balance to the sweetness in the rest of the recipe.

Put It All Together!

  • Scoop a dollop (1-2 Tbl) of frosting in the center of your cake stand or plate. Place the first cake layer onto the frosting with the flat side of the cake on the stand. The frosting will help the cake not slide around when moving the cake.
  • Top the layer with roughly a cup of frosting. Spread so that there is a slightly higher edge of frosting around the entire layer. You don’t want it to be evenly spread out. The frosting edge should be about a half inch higher the center of the cake dome.
  • Place the next layer of cake on top of the frosting, but invert the cake so that the flat side/bottom of the layer is now the top of the cake. That’s why you made an edge of frosting. This gives you a flat topped cake without cutting anything and release crumbs that are difficult to work with.
  • Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides and top of the cake. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes. This is called the “crumb coat” and slightly dries to encapsulate the crumbs and give you an easier work surface for frosting.
  • Start frosting the top of the cake first. Spread an evenly layer that is roughly 1/4″ thick. Then frost the sides to the same thickness. Don’t worry about it being perfectly smooth at this point. Just make it even and use up all the frosting.
  • Heat a drinking glass of water to a boil. Dip your frosting knife into the hot water and begin to smooth the frosting. This step is called “hot knifing” which essentially is melting the top layer frosting to give it a smooth and glossy look.
  • Now for the ganache!
  • Dip your finger in the ganache. Is it hot or more like luke warm bathwater? If it’s hot let it cool, because you don’t want it to melt the frosting when you pour it on.
  • Start by pouring a large pool of ganache on the center of the cake then start pouring in spirals so that you’re moving evenly towards the edge of the cake. You want an even looking top of ganache and some drips down the sides. It’s very tempting to start with the drips down the sides, but it will look more natural if you spiral from the center and work your way out.

Notes

Even if your cake pans are non-stick you should always lightly grease them and insert a parchment round at the bottom. It is challenging to frost a cake when crumbs get into the frosting. Greasing and lining the pans ensure a clean release from the pan. 
Why dust with flour? This step has nothing to do with making your pan non-stick. It actually does the opposite! Your batter needs something to cling to during the initial rise in the oven. The flour on the sides give the liquid something to “climb” up as the outer portion of the cake cooks first. This step gives your cake a more even rise so that you don’t have a large domed top. 
Folding the batter in versus mixing. It is tempting to mix a cake using your stand mixer. Don’t. It doesn’t save you time, and it will almost certainly overmix your batter which makes for a gummy and more bread like cake. When liquid is added to flour the gluten creation process begins. The more the wheat proteins that form gluten are rubbed together the stronger that bond becomes. Cakes, cookies, and pie dough should be worked as little as possible so that they are light and fluffy and not tough and chewy. 
STOP CUTTING CAKE TOPS: This step does create a flat topped cake, but it is messy and unnecessary. Simply frost your first layer with higher edges so that your second layer, when inverted, will fit into that concave frosting. Sure, your cut slice isn’t going to be magazine quality with it’s perfectly even center layer of frosting. No one actually cares, and it saves you a lot of time, mess, and hassle.  
Freeze your cake layers. After letting your cake cool completely to room temperature wrap the layers individually. Wrap completely in plastic wrap then aluminum foil. Place in your freezer on a cookie sheet until they are frozen through. You don’t want them to be misshapen because they froze on a bag of peas. Frosting the layers while they are frozen makes them easier to handle and the frosting will stick better without creating crumbs! A standard two layer cake takes between 2-4 hours to thaw after it’s been frosted. Frost the cake in the morning, and it will be ready to enjoy for your lunch or dinner celebration!  


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