Now that's a bit of a mouthful of a title for a cake, but I promise every single word is actually completely vital to it's description. It's vegan, it's chocolate, it's fudgy, it's decadent like a truffle, it's a cake, and it has strawberries. See! I told you so. :) (Unfortunately the front piece had more strawberries tucked inside than you could really see...I know this because I ate it right after I finished photographing!)
I really had no reason to make this...except it is my birthday week so I figured I could use that as an excuse for this ultra rich and gratifying treat. I actually consider the whole month of March to be a celebration for my birthday..and I'm definitely one of those people who is obnoxious about letting you know the countdown til my day comes. (By the way, it's March 13th and I will be 21 finally! Only 5 more days to go!) And in case you're wondering, I hold my mother and my Grammie completely responsible for the monster/princess they created when it comes to this. You see, my mom was always the same way as a child. She was the only one out of of her brothers and her sister that was like that and let's just say the apple didn't fall far from the tree. I just really love my birthday and I love telling everyone that it's my special day (whether they care or not, but that's beside the point!). Coincidentally, it's usually in March that my pants begin to feel a liiiiittle more snug because I frequently use the excuse "But it's my birthday!" to indulge (and maybe slightly overindulge..), but hey, you only live once! And I definitely enjoyed every second of indulging in this little slice of heaven.
I'm sure Betty Crocker didn't think I would see this cake and then decide to turn it into a vegan version, but guess what lady, I DID! I mean, just take a second look at the title. It says "vegan" so it must be dry, bland, and unappetizing, right? Nice try! I bet if I didn't include that little "v word" in the title, you would have had no idea it was. And, if I sliced a piece and handed it to you with a big old grin on my face, I'm sure you still wouldn't know it was vegan until I gave you the recipe and you gasped and said "But where are the eggs!? The heavy cream!? How did you...?" And I would simply explain that vegan doesn't automatically mean flavorless, lifeless meals and desserts. This cake is unbelievably delicious, rich, dense, and fudgy...it's simply amazing! The addition of the strawberries make it seem like the perfect "March" kind of dessert. You really never know what to expect from the weather this month, with the lingering winter and the (hopefully) approaching spring, which is why the chocolatey cake (which is quite comforting on the colder days) really benefits from the strawberries (which really add a great fresh and spring-like feel to the cake). So, if you're looking for an excuse to try this out (just like I was)...just say I made you do it. You'll be pleasantly surprised and happy you did. :)
For the Cake:
- 2 cups soy milk
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
- 1 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 packages (8 oz each) semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped (Baker's semi-sweet is vegan)
- 1 1/3 cups soy milk
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
- 2 cups cut-up fresh strawberries
- Fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup vegan white chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8x8 pan.
- Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
- Pour into pan, smooth top. Bake for 28-35 minutes. (I checked mine every few minutes after 25 minutes just to make sure it didn't overcook)
- Cool completely, about 1 hour
- Meanwhile, in large bowl, place chopped chocolate; set aside. In 2-quart saucepan, heat soy milk and Earth Balance (or other vegan butter substitute) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until "butter" is melted and mixture comes to a boil. Pour "cream" mixture over chocolate; stir until smooth.
- Line bottom of 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper round. Cut cake into 1-inch cubes. In large bowl, beat half of the cake cubes on low speed until cake is crumbly. Add remaining cake cubes and 1 3/4 cups of the ganache (reserve remaining ganache for topping). Beat on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed until well combined (mixture will look like fudge). Fold in 2 cups cut-up strawberries. Spoon mixture into springform pan; smooth top. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 45 minutes or until firm enough to unmold.
- Run knife around side of pan to loosen cake mixture. Place serving plate upside down on pan; turn pan and plate over. Frost side and top of cake with reserved ganache. Arrange strawberry halves on top of cake.
- In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips and 1/2 teaspoon oil uncovered on High 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted. Place in small resealable food-storage plastic bag; cut off tiny corner of bag. Drizzle over top of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cake is best served the same day.
Source for Cupcakes: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World