Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Cake with Avocado & Coconut

My husband and I were recently invited to celebrate our friend’s birthday with a BBQ in the park. This friend and his family had recently adopted a vegan lifestyle, so I wanted to bring something that the birthday boy could enjoy. What better offering than a Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake!

The sprinkles definitely help in the case of this vegan chocolate cake

Before this, I didn’t really know what vegan meant. It wasn’t until I started researching recipes did I understand the gravity of the situation. Vegans do not consume any animal products at all. No milk or cream (fine). No eggs (ok…). And no butter (sacre bleu!!). Not to be deterred, I pressed on and came across this blog with a recipe for the best ever Vegan Chocolate Cake. I was inspired by the blog’s author as she isn’t vegan herself, but enjoys the challenge of cooking vegan recipes so delicious, that even kids love her vegan alternatives.

I learned quite a lot in making this cake. Most dark chocolate is vegan (just check the ingredients don’t make any reference to milk). Rainbow sprinkles are also vegan. And you really don’t need butter or eggs to make a cake.

This recipe uses a ripe avocado, olive oil and coconut milk as the liquid binder. The result? It looks amazing enough. But the taste? I regretfully couldn’t even bring myself to eat it, because present at the birthday BBQ was a full animal fat black forest cake that I couldn’t take my eyes off. But those who were game enough to sample this vegan chocolate cake seemed to enjoy it. Especially the birthday boy. Fait accompli! I CAN bake without butter.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Avocado & Coconut

Ingredients

  • 90 grams good-quality vegan chocolate
  • 2/3 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 190g cups all-purpose flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 90g packed dark brown sugar
  • 60g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (don’t use virgin or light)
  • 1/2 large very ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened soy, coconut, or almond milk (I used coconut milk in this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (or finely chopped vegan chocolate)
  • For the vegan ganache

  • 220g vegan chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (lite or full-fat), plus more if necessary

Method

  1. Butter a 12-cup bundt cake pan with whatever oil you have on hand (I used olive oil). Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the 90g of vegan chocolate and freshly brewed coffee in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, both sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.
  4. In a separate large bowl, beat together mashed avocado, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in cooled chocolate and your milk of choice. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the vegan chocolate chips. Your cake batter should be pretty thick. If it’s too thick, add in an extra tablespoon or two of your chosen milk.
  5. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and smooth top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until tester inserted into centre comes out almost clean, with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool in pan an hour on a wire rack before flipping over and transferring to wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  6. To make vegan chocolate ganache

  7. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add in coconut milk and chopped chocolate. Watch carefully and whisk until chocolate is completely melted. If you want a thinner ganache, add in more coconut milk. Let stand for a few minutes then immediately spoon ganache over cake. Top ganache with sprinkles and enjoy!

Recipe: Tokwa’t Baboy

Tofu & Pork Salad

Disclaimer I use the term salad very loosely. Token greens in the form of finely chopped spring onions? Check. Brown onions and garlic are vegetables, right? Tofu is healthy…. before it is shallow-fried that is. And the hero of the dish is juicy bite-size pieces of pork belly. Now that is my kind of salad!

Just delicious served with lugao, arrozcaldo or congee

A dish featuring traditional Pinoy flavours with its perfectly balanced, garlicky vinegar sauce, Tokwa Baboy is comfort food at its finest. It takes me back to my childhood when, arriving home from school, I would be greeted with the distinctive aroma of tofu frying… It was tokwa baboy night! It worked for Mum to cos it was dinner on a budget, and it was something we all loved (especially Dad; you had him with pork belly and fried tofu).
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Recipe: Blondies

It’s been a hectic few weeks in the Epicuriously household with the birth of our beautiful daughter Charlotte. We’re absolutely blessed and smitten with this little bundle of joy. Though it’s been more challenging than we could have ever imagined, we are so thrilled she’s a part of our lives.

Charlotte (aka Charlie)

I’m still experiencing the “newborn fog”, where I hazily perceive the world through bleary eyes and a sleep-deprived brain. Though I’m still coming to grips with this often manic yet sometimes blissful season of around-the-clock feeding and nappy changes, thankfully I’ve had the help of two old friends – sugar and chocolate. I know it’s not very healthy, but I’m in survival mode right now – whatever it takes to get me through the day… a bit of chocolate for an extra energy boost does make all the difference. :)
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Recipe: Gruyere and Vegetable Frittata

About a year ago, my sister made the astonishing decision to become a vegetarian. I remember when she first broke the news, I immediately thought tofu + steamed vegetables = boring, and wondered how quickly she’d get over it. But ever since then, she has admirably committed to life sans meat. Though she still eats seafood and the occasional bit of chicken, she’s maintained an inspiring vegetarian lifestyle with such ingenuity that has shut me up and taught me a thing or two about vegetarian cooking (follow her on Instagram).

Cheesy frittata, stuffed with spokes of asparagus, earthy mushrooms, and sweet onion


Now I’ve gotten used the idea, I’ve started cooking vegetarian whenever my sister comes over. My repertoire is hardly as inventive as hers, but one of my favourites has got to be this delicious oven-baked frittata (eggs!) filled with some of my favourite veggies (mushrooms! asparagus!), smothered in gruyere and parmesan cheeses (yes please!!). No wonder it tastes so good… =)
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Recipe: Forgotten Pudding

Forgotten Pudding is a wonderfully unusual dessert. For a start, it’s not quite the traditional pudding of the sticky date variety that you’re used to. Rather, the star and foundation is a meringue layer that’s been slow-cooked, resulting in a marshmallow-y texture that’s still moist and creamy. Topped with whipped cream, vibrant berries and smears of tart passionfruit, it’s a wonderful summer dessert that pays homage to the classic Pavlova, but without the fear of failure (slow-cooking surely guarantees success!).

Forgtten pudding in all its glory!

Like the name suggests, part of the cooking process includes conveniently “forgetting” about the meringue in the oven to allow it to cook overnight. There’s no prodding or inserting of skewers to check if it’s done. You literally leave it to cook while you catch up on the more exciting things in life like sleep or the next episode of My Kitchen Rules (please don’t judge me).
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Recipe: Creamy Chicken Risotto

Making risotto can seem a little intimidating. With the constant stirring, the gradual addition of piping hot stock and knowing when it’s hit that al dente spot – just one slight glitch and all your wonderfully orchestrated efforts could easily lead to disaster.

Creamy Chicken Risotto


However, I find it’s in this methodical approach that makes it one of the most rewarding meals you could whip up for dinner. Who knew a bit of rice could be so fancy, and not to mention utterly delicious. As long as you prepare all your ingreients in advance, you’ve got the stock gently simmering and you’re happy to rhythmically give the rice a stir; it’s dare I say it, quite easy.
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Recipe: Sticky Braised Pork Belly

Happy Chinese New Year! Over the weekend, I had the privilege of hosting a small dinner with family and friends, giving me a great excuse to whip up something Chinese.


Though I have significant Chinese heritage, I’m not very experienced in traditional Asian cooking techniques. Don’t get me wrong: I love eating Chinese… for me it’s right up there with sleep-ins, massages and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. But I must admit I’ve always found cooking Chinese cuisine a little intimidating. Yes, that’s right… (an Australian bred) Chinese-Filipino woman scared of Chinese cooking.
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Recipe: Lamingtons

Jam and Cream Lamington Sandwiches

Happy Australia Day! Whether you’re appreciating the great outdoors or just doing nothing at all, I hope your Australia Day is bonza.

To help you and your mates get into the Aussie spirit, try making these irresistible lamingtons. My husband absolutely adores these little butter cake bricks that have been soaked in dark chocolate, rolled in coconut flakes, and slathered with generous lashings of jam and cream.

Vanilla cake, covered in dark chocolate ganache, filled with fluffy whipped cream and raspberry pomegranate jam

I’ve used a vanilla butter cake as the basis of this lamington recipe. This denser and more textured variation provides stronger structural integrity that won’t easily crumble when dipped in the rich chocolate ganache.
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Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans with Smoked Ham

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed a joyful and safe holiday period. It’s been way too long since my last post, but the final quarter of 2012 was incredibly busy for us. We received some wonderful news (more on that later), moved house twice, and are now finally able to catch our breath as we find ourselves at the start of 2013!

If your holiday has been anything like mine, you would have experienced the entire month of December in a perpetual food-induced coma. With weekends and most work days filled with one celebratory function after the next, there’s been no shortage of gloriously decadent food. It’s only once the smoke from new years’ eve fireworks had cleared that I realised how tight my clothes were fitting! So naturally I began to crave for more nutritious and wholesome fare.

What better way to start 2013 than with a wholesome breakfast of good old baked beans on toast. Sure you can just crack open a can of beans, but like most things, its much healthier when it’s homemade, not to mention much yummier!

I admit the name “baked” beans is slightly misleading as no baking is involved. Instead, dried beans are soaked overnight, which isn’t terribly tricky, but does take some forward planning. Then you just chuck it in a pot with a some smoked ham (or that left-over Christmas ham) and leave to simmer. The final addition of flavour and spices gives it a delicious kick you won’t find in any can.
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Eat: The Bottle of Milk, Lorne

Lorne, Victoria

Lorne is a picture-perfect coastal town along the famous Great Ocean Road, just two hours from Melbourne. Serving as the halfway mark of our scenic drive to Port Campbell, my husband and I enjoyed a stopover at Lorne’s Bottle of Milk – a beach cafe icon, famous for phenomenal burgers and blissfully tasty chips.

A perfect day for the perfect chips

By doing the simple things exceptioinally well, the Bottle of Milk is on to a winner. Though they may only do burgers, chips and coffee, they’ve got all three down pat. Their burger menu is extensive – beef, chicken, pork, vegetarian and mini versions to keep the kiddies happy. Their chips come with an array of yummy home-made sauces. And last but not least, their coffee by Seven Seeds is exceptionally good, goes down strong and smooth and is a great complement to their milk bar style fare.
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