Mind Over Batter: Addictive Gluten-free, Vegan, Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Huge green tea = huge wake up or a giant’s regular wake up

What a night. I woke up with my partner at 5:30 this morning, and laid in bed until 6 before I got up to be productive. Then what did I do? I slept from 7:30 til noon after reading for a while on the couch! The sluggish, groggy feeling in my head and body means I turned immediately to my hilariously large mug and filled it to the brim with green tea brewed strong. With this and some Nature Valley Oats and Dark Chocolate under my belt (most indulgent processed second breakfast ever), I’ll be ready for the day.

So, chocolate. People who know me well know I have a huge soft spot for chocolate; no one knows this better than my husband, who is often my chocolate-go-getter. Besides Valentine’s Day indulgences (my first ever real box of chocolates!), we have become much more conscious of and dedicated to eating vegan chocolate. No more milk or white chocolate, though I never really liked them much to begin with anyway when compared to dark chocolate. Luckily for us, a city like Buffalo offers many places and opportunities to stray from “the norm,” and we frequent the Lexington Co-Op in Elmwood Village to satisfy our chocolate needs. I had been wanting to make a vegan, flourless chocolate cake for a while, and armed with a pound of vegan chocolate bits from our local co-op, I was ready to begin.

I wanted to create a flourless chocolate cake that was different than the other recipes I had found. Many recipes for vegan flourless chocolate cake utilize non-wheat flours like coconut flour, which I thought defeated the purpose of flourless! Wanting to stay true to the concept, the recipe I have here is an experiment and definitely a work-in-progress, but delicious nonetheless. The only real trouble is getting the cake to setup entirely; this cake is somewhere between a supremely stiff pudding and a dense cheesecake. I will include the recipe and my plans for altering next time so you can all follow along and make any recommendations!

First, melt your (vegan) chocolate bits in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can do what I do: heat about an inch of water to a consistent simmer in a small saucepan and place a stainless steel or glass bowl wide enough to cover the opening on top. Melt the chocolate in your double boiler slowly, stirring until completely melted. Then, add the canola oil and stir until well-blended. Why add the oil now? I simply find that the fats mix better when combined at the same time. And a little heat never hurts (a little!).

You can see my double boiler setup here under all that melty deliciousness!

You can see my double boiler setup here under all that melty deliciousness!

Since you’ll have a couple of minutes while the chocolate begins to warm, take the opportunity to cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside of your springform pan. You can either free-cut and hope for the best, like I did, or you can just trace the pan onto the paper with a pencil and cut inside the drawn circle.

Pretty close...

Pretty close…

Next, puree the black beans and banana, and stir in with the chocolate mix.

Mmmm getting there

Mmmm getting there

After you’ve dirtied the food processor by pureeing the black beans and banana, you can dirty it even further by whipping your silken tofu. Whipping the tofu helps add a bit of air and gives it a smooth texture.

Tofu! Eggs, be gone!

Tofu! Eggs, be gone!

Brew up your strong coffee…

Caff. Eine.

Caff. Eine.

…and add everything remaining to the chocolate mix: the coffee, sugar, vanilla, water, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar. Pour into your pan, and bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. And no, that’s not a joke: 40-50 minutes.

Yeah! Uncooked magic :D

Yeah! Uncooked magic 😀

Once out of the oven, freeze for 20 minutes to jump-start the setting process, and transfer to the fridge for at least 2 hours or until cool completely.

A friend who hates black beans ate the cake and had no idea. We all loved the cake. I would recommend having a pie server handy for getting your slices out, because this cake will be funny to get out.

Gluten-free, Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 lb. vegan chocolate bits
1 c. canola oil
1 banana
1 c. silken tofu
1/2 c. black bean puree
3/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 c. strong coffee
1/4 c. water
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. baking powder

Now, for next time, I think I’m going to change up the recipe a bit. First, the moisture content needs to come down. Second, the banana flavor needs to come down. Third, I think the cake needs to actually try to rise less in order to get the correct dense texture of a flourless chocolate cake. So, this is my proposed NEW recipe:

1 lb. vegan chocolate bits
1 c. canola oil OR vegan margarine (my new favorite thing)
1/2 banana
1 c. silken tofu
1 c. black bean puree
3/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 c. strong coffee

Fewer ingredients, but who knows how it will come out? It’s untested. I’ll do an update once it’s completed! But for now, the tested, gluten-free, vegan flourless chocolate cake is a pretty damn good substitute! With a side of unsweetened almond milk, it’s just heaven. One small slice is enough to send you into a health coma!

 

 

My Hearty Valentine

Obligatory picture of JM & I

Valentine’s Day. “Singles Awareness Day.” The “Hallmark Holiday.” Any way you slice it, February 14 is just that: a day. It’s only as significant as you make it.

That being said, instead of hanging around and doing nothing last night, we hosted our friends at our apartment and had a small get-together with good food and good wine!! To go along with the homemade pita chips I made the other day, I decided to throw together my chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise. This was met with a bleu cheese dip and a macaroni and cheese with broccoli from our friends that were all to die for!! Thank goodness we offset all the cheese and fats with a nice bowl of fresh pineapple. Even the low fat, low calorie banana muffins I made from sparkrecipes.com were a hit!

Now, yesterday was what a lot of people in the dieting world seem to call a “maintenance day,” in that I did not stick to my diet but also did not eat more than an average, non-dieting day (about 1800-2000 calories for women). I do feel a bit bad that Monday and Tuesday are lost dieting days this week, but I realize that dieting is a process: no one loses all their weight in one day, or even one month. Instead of letting guilt eat away at me all day, I think it’s better to just start fresh today and resolve to get back to my diet. I’m not the kind of person that thinks all these little slips will break my resolve, and I also don’t think you should have to give up a cupcake or a few glasses of wine on a special day just because of your diet (you couldn’t pay me to give up Eveningside Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon or Schulze Winery’s Crackling Niagara)!! Because, let’s face it: I like to eat. And drink. That just ain’t gonna change.

You can access my nutrition report for yesterday here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/nutrition_food_chart.asp?sidn=3kMClpA6U++++++1]R5Na3++++++++&iMTGoalNum=219540182&dteDateShowing=2/14/2012&bGetElementByID=TRUE

I can’t wait for lunch!

I realized that I have never included a chicken salad recipe here before! And while it is easy enough to make, there are so many variations that it is certainly worth talking about here. It’s not necessarily a health food (it is, after all, made with mayonnaise), but it’s absolutely not a food that must be avoided. In fact, skinless chicken breasts that have been poached are a delicious low fat way to get some much-needed protein into your day. My mother used to make chicken salad for our lunches, and her way was absolutely delicious. The variation I made last night was slightly different, but reminded me of getting those whole wheat chicken salad sandwiches in my purple lunchbox, sinking my teeth into something homemade and awesome, and that wasn’t covered with cheese and intended to be dipped in marinara sauce (most of our cafeteria lunches in high school).

Last night’s chicken salad was: chicken, mayo, curry powder, garlic powder, apples, dried cranberries, and dry coleslaw mix with a good grind of pepper. However, mix it up! Other good combos include: chicken-apples-cranberries-celery-onion-mayo-ground ginger, chicken-apples-grapes-walnuts-celery-Greek yogurt, chicken-cucumber-celery-pineapple-Greek yogurt…..these are my favorites! I love the combination of chicken, fruit, and veggies together, and honestly, any vegetable that does not require cooking would be great in the chicken salad because it will maintain a crunch. You can of course use store-bought mayo (I would suggest olive oil mayo), but you can also use Julia Child’s time-tested mayo recipe to make your own. I have begun to make my mayo with lemon juice instead of white vinegar, which gives it a whole new kick and tasted great with the chicken salad!

Chicken Salad
3 chicken breasts
approx. 1 cup mayonnaise
half an apple
handful of dried cranberries
handful of dry coleslaw mix
curry powder to taste
garlic powder to taste
black pepper (and salt, if desired) to taste

-Place defrosted chicken breasts in a large pot and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil.
-Boil chicken breasts for 30-45 minutes, depending mostly on thickness. You can lift a breast out of the pot with a pair of tongs and cut into the middle with a knife to see if they are fully cooked.
-Remove chicken from water, and cool the chicken by placing the breasts on a cutting board or, as I did last night, in a bowl that you place inside another bowl of cold water to create a water bath.
-Cut and shred the chicken into very small pieces. Add the dry ingredients and mix together well. Add mayonnaise until you are satisfied with the consistency of the chicken salad (I estimate you will use at least a cup).
-Season to taste and refrigerate until ready to serve.Tip: The chicken salad will taste better onday 2, so if you make it the night before you intend to use it, it will taste even better! Letting the flavors meld together is highly suggested. 🙂

So, yes folks, I am embarrassed by the results of yesterday’s meal, but considering the drinks and the very large meal, it’s good to know that I was still able to “maintain.” Let this serve as a warning to those who drink more than a couple glasses of wine or a couple beers more than once a week and intend (or not) to diet: think “beer gut.” I was pleasantly surprised by my cupcakes, as dry as they were: they were less than 250 calories even with peanut butter frosting! But still.

For anyone who is wondering about the homemade pita chips, I simply cut pitas into 12 triangles and baked at 375 degrees F for between 10-15 minutes (depending on your pitas and the intensity of your oven). Yum! Make sure that pan is non-stick so they don’t burn.

More weekly progress

It’s Been a Summer…and a Fall

Taken moments after our engagement…I swear we love each other

You all know as well as I do, if not better – it’s been six months since my last post. And, contrary to what it may seem, I did not lose interest in blogging, or cooking, or writing. Rather, things have simply been pretty busy, and the messy tornado-torn cache of memory I possess of this time seems barely piece-together-able. Since July 11: work…vacation…school’s beginning…the end of both of my jobs, and the beginning of unemployment…moving into the perfect apartment…a tortured first semester of grad school…a mysterious bout of fatigue that lasted over a month…a grueling job search that has only just been fruitful…a temporary position working with admissions…the long-awaited holidays…the planning and (finally) beautiful marriage of my two good friends…and probably the closest event to my heart: our very own engagement!! Jonmark and I engaged on our two year anniversary, this past July 24th, and now, we begin our own wedding planning.

My return to Concise Slice is not necessarily related to these changes. Rather, in spite of all the happy things that have happened in the last six months, I have severely missed my food blogging hobby here, and decided while waxing nostalgic around the new year that I absolutely must return to the smaller joys in life. Consequently, Jonmark and I have also set the date of our wedding for October 27, 2012! So, ironically, my return to Concise Slice coincides with a diet that inevitably limits the delicacies in which I can indulge (and, thereby, cook). I mean, yes, one day last week I may have cut back the calories throughout the day so that I could have my treasured deviled eggs with homemade mayo, plus chicken salad and my new cheese biscuit recipe…..but in general, things are changing.

So, for my first post of 2012, we’ll be discussing the new low-fat muffins I baked so that there would be some extra breakfast foods in the house when our old friend from Oswego, Jon Walda, came to visit! And for any of you following my life from Facebook, you may have already noticed my decisive opinion about these muffins: despite their low-fat and eggless benefits, and despite their orange zesty and cranberry-y kick, low-fat muffins in general just don’t compare to a good old full fat, crazy buttery muffin. However, for those of you who love the taste of oats (and who like to bake with them), these are pretty good. The very nutty flavor from the oats and nuts brings out the fruity tang of the dried cranberries and fresh orange zest…mmmmm. I added extra liquid because I was out of muffin papers and didn’t want the oats to absorb too much moisture, but if you like your oats a little more firm, go with just the 3/4 cup of milk. Also, I happened to have macadamias lying around from the holidays, but feel free to use whatever nut you choose; I would have preferred the more robust flavor of walnuts myself 🙂

As you might see in the photos (which are soon to come), the muffins stayed in the oven for 4 or 5 minutes too long because, well, I tend to forget about what I’m baking and our oven timer isn’t working properly, but they were definitely salvageable. I’ll be posting the nutrition facts for anyone who’s keeping track or using a tool like sparkpeople.com as I am!

Cranberry Orange Oat Muffins
1 cup white or wheat flour (I ran out of wheat and used white)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I’d avoid Craisins – added sugar)
1/4 cup nuts (I had cashews, but walnuts would probably be better)
2 tbsp. nonfat plain or Greek yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water (if not in possession of muffin papers)
3 tbsp. canola oil
at least 2 tsp. orange zest (I added more to taste)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Mix all dry ingredients together well and make well in the center.
-Mix wet ingredients separately to be sure they combine well; add to dry ingredients, folding the dry over the wet just until combined. Don’t overmix!
-Line muffin tin with paper liners if on hand; if not, be sure you added a little water! Spoon batter into the cups, being sure not to overfill (about 75% of the cup should be filled).
-Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out dry and the edges begin to turn a bit golden brown. Don’t overcook! Even 23 minutes made them very dark.
Servings: 12

Funnily enough, these muffins didn’t really get eaten. They weren’t a total bust; they were just a bit burned for our tastes. Also, with my calorie restriction, it was hard to justify 2 160-calorie muffins for breakfast only to find myself hungry 2 hours later. I’ll post some even lower calorie muffins soon that pack a lot of flavor!

Here’s the nutrition info for one muffin:
Calories: 166
Total fat: 6.4 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4 g
Monounsaturated fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 52 mg
Potassium: 124 mg
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Dietary fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 16.5 g
Protein: 2.5 g