As you all know, my niece (G) is so special to me. Last year, I made her an ice cream cake for her birthday. She doesn't like cake very much, but LOVES ice cream, so it made more sense to make an ice cream cake. Well, guess what? When you discover that you can't have dairy, a beloved ice cream cake is a really bad idea. So, this auntie (who remains unemployed and otherwise not busy), decided to conquer a dairy free cake. Since dairy has been a common allergy/food sensitivity, it isn't hard to find dairy-free cakes. But, the real problem comes in finding one that actually sounds/tastes good.
Side note: Duncan Hines is a dairy-free cake mix, in all the flavors I checked. I really wanted it to be something special, though.
G, a former peanut butter hater, has "fallen in love" with peanut butter since becoming dairy-free. I'm not sure there's a direct correlation, but it happened in that order. Even today, after helping me make the filling for her cake, she ate peanut butter right off the spoon. So, after discussing with my sister, we decided to make a "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup" Cake. This is where it gets fun...
I have to tell you a secret, a secret that hopefully my family won't know, because, honestly, I don't think they read this... there are vegetables in this cake. As I write this, the family hasn't tasted the cake. I will update based on their opinions of the cake... after we eat it on G's birthday.
I used 3 different recipes to make this triple layer cake. The top and bottom layer are Chocolate Cake. The middle layer is White Cake. In between each layer is Peanut Butter Filling. I originally was going to use PB Cup Frosting as the frosting on the cake, but when I made the "trial size," I found it was too thick. It just didn't taste how frosting should taste (in my mind). I have decided to use chocolate frosting for the outer frosting of the cake. Yes, this cake is RICH. But I'm looking at it, unfrosted, and would love to just cut off a piece... reminds me of an episode of The Cosby Show. This is one of my favorite episodes and still makes me laugh.
You still there?
The chocolate cake layers... I did the "smart" thing and made each layer individually (the white one twice, but that's another story). I wish I could tell you this was intentional, but it wasn't. I realized that the chocolate cake layer was thinner than I had anticipated and it would have been a short cake (but probably healthier!!).
On the chocolate cake, I followed the recipe very closely. I used flax because my mom had it in the pantry. Then I used all sugar. (Yes, very unhealthy.) I used 3/4 C Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips. I used about 1 teaspoon of vanilla because the stuff we have is tooooo potent. It seems to have gotten stronger with age, maybe it's really wine? Yes, I used CAULIFLOWER!!! I chose to use 2/3 C of canned coconut milk, no oil. The first cake, I couldn't smell the cauliflower at all. The second one, I could smell it... the only difference was the the order that I put things into the blender. I would suggest using a blender and chopping the cauliflower and liquid ingredients before pureeing. I cooked them for about 25 minutes each. They are both very moist and came out of the pan nicely.
The vanilla layer is where I have to lay down my pride... I made a mistake on this one. One that put the whole cake-making task about an hour behind schedule. Thankfully, I planned ahead this time and wasn't baking the cake the day of G's birthday, which is how I usually make cakes. So, my sad story first. I got all of the ingredients out, I mixed everything together, I put the cake in the pan that I used for the other layer (so they'll be the same size) and put it in the oven. I'm not good with knowing length of cook time on recipes, especially when they give you a 15 minute window. I pulled the cake out after like 20-25 minutes and it looked good. It was a light brown on top and when I pushed on the top, it sorta sprung back. It was hard to tell if the toothpick was fully clean, but it looked good, so I pulled out the cake. I was letting it cool down and it was taking awhile. I finally needed to get to work on the third layer (which I decided to add after seeing the other two layers were kinda thin). I tried to pull the cake out of the pan and it was stuck! Realllly stuck! I then, trying all of the tricks that I could think of, tried to pry it out of the pan. Well, part of it fell off and I realized that the cake was still VERY gooey on the inside. That's right, it wasn't done, so I spent about 5 minutes scraping it out of the pan and into the garbage. Man, I was feeling defeated. My mom reassured me that it was fine to make it again. I was a little irritated with that recipe, so I made the second chocolate layer before attempting the vanilla/white layer again.
So, when I made the vanilla layer, I modified it somewhat... I didn't use the cocoa (obviously) and cut back the vanilla to a teaspoon. Instead of using water, on the first cake, I used a full cup of canned coconut milk, as well as the oil. When I made it the second time, I used between 1/2 & 3/4 C of coconut milk and then 1/4 - 1/2 C of water, but no oil. I felt there was a lot of liquid in the cake and maybe that's why it was taking so long to cook. I ended up cooking it for close to 30 minutes.
My favorite part (because I've actually been able to taste it) is the frosting/peanut butter filling. I doubled the recipe because I knew I needed more than it called for. I was going to triple it, but realized I'd be using a lot of powdered sugar and didn't want to do that. I used about 6 tablespoons of peanut butter, NO vanilla, 6 tablespoons of almond milk, and only 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. I didn't want a strong chocolate flavor. In fact, the peanut butter pretty much overtakes the flavor, but that's what I was going for, so I'm happy. I mixed it in my mom's stand mixer with the whisk attachment and it turned out just how I expected.
UPDATE: We ate the cake for the birthday. Just about everyone ate their serving then my sister said, "is there cauliflower in this?" I could have kicked her... G promptly stopped eating the cake and won't try it now. Argh... thankfully, the rest of the family (and a family friend) all loved the cake, but felt the chocolate layers were quite rich. It is a very dense cake, so if I make it again, I will just do two layers. Only after being aware that cauliflower was in the cake did anyone actually pick up the flavor. I am able to taste it, so I might cut it back a bit to try to tone it down...
So, next time you can't get your kids to eat veggies, just make a cake and bake the veggies in. We have a HUGE zucchini to use... probably chocolate zucchini cake will be the next one. Just have to find Grandma's recipe somewhere...