It’s birthday season, and I’m in the mood for cake. The hardest thing about making this cake is waiting for it to cool—other than that, it’s easy-peasy! (Yes, yes, I know. My frosting skills need a lot of work. But practice makes perfect, right? I’ll get there.)
For the Cake:
¼ cup wheat flour (or all purpose)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 TBLSP cocoa powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup powdered sugar
6 TBLSP non-dairy milk, divided
1 ½ TBLSP chocolate chips
1 TBLSP vegetable oil
Slosh of apple cider vinegar
Slosh of vanilla extract
2 ½ teaspoons maple syrup (or agave nectar)
For the Ganache:
2 TBLSP non-dairy milk
2-3 TBLSP powdered sugar
3 TBLSP chocolate chips
Slosh vanilla extract
1 TBLSP smooth peanut butter (almond or other nut or seed butter will do nicely too)
2 TBLSP apricot preserves (or raspberry, strawberry, cherry, etc.), divided
Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line two 5-inch cake pans (I use single-serving casserole dishes) with parchment.
- Place the flours, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and whisk it together to combine.
- In another bowl, heat ¼ cup of the milk and the chocolate chips until just hot. You can use the microwave or a Bain Marie on the stove. Whisk until the chocolate is melted.
- Add the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and maple syrup to the chocolate and the remaining 2 TBLSP of milk, and mix until it’s smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30-34 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on the rack completely. This may take a couple of hours. Cover with a towel if you’re worried about it drying out. You might try placing the cakes in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes if you’re impatient.
Make the Ganache:
- In a small pan over medium heat, heat the milk and sugar until it’s hot through. Don’t let it boil, and stir constantly to prevent the sugar from burning.
- Add in the chocolate chips, and take the pan off the heat. Keep stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Add in the vanilla and peanut butter. Mix until smooth.
- Let it rest in splendor in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, until it thickens to a spreadable consistency.
Festoon the Cake:
- Settle a cake plate on top of a mug or glass to get your little art project up high enough that you can see what you’re doing, and put one of the darling little cakes in the middle of it. You might want to slice off its little head, if it’s mounding up, so that the second layer will lie flat on it.
- Plop some of the ganache onto that cake and spread it over the top with an offset spatula or whatever tool suits you.
- Let that cake and its ganache rest in the freezer for 10 minutes. Don’t put the ganache back in the fridge, though, or it will get too hard to spread and you’ll have to v-e-r-y carefully reheat it on the stove. (Ask me how I know this.)
- Meanwhile, if you’re using the fruit preserves, heat it in the microwave or on the stove, just enough to make it thinner and more spreadable. About a minute in the microwave is plenty.
- Take that already-ganached cake out of the freezer and spread about half of the preserves delicately over the top of it. Don’t break the ganache!
- Settle the other, untouched cake on top of the preserves. Plop the rest of the ganache on that top cake and spread it smoothly over the top and down the sides. You might like the sides bare, in which case, you could freeze the cake for 10 minutes and then make a second top coat of ganache with whatever is left.
- Refrigerate (don’t freeze) the whole cake for 2 hours before serving. Decorate with fruit, mint leaves, chocolate curls—whatever suits you, or just scarf the whole naked cake down. It’s your cake to do with as you will!
- You can avoid the whole nut situation by using 1 TBLSP more of the chocolate chips in the ganache. You might need a little more powdered sugar to make it thick enough. You’ll have to experiment.
- Use any sliced off cake top mounds to cheer up a bowl of ice cream. Or smear peanut butter on it and inhale it.
- Try smearing some heated (microwave) peanut butter on the first layer rather than fruit preserves. It's a simpler flavor profile, but oh, so yummy!