Vanilla Bean Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting

Just recently we hosted survived my daughter’s birthday party ☺. Since the Christmas holidays we have celebrated my son’s 9th birthday and now my daughter’s 7th birthday. Winter babies make for a very busy start to each new year…but also lots of opportunities to challenge my vegan baking skills!  Similar to my son’s party a few weekends ago, my daughter was allowed to invite a few of her closest friends over for a sleepover party. In all she had three friends spend the evening. Between some Just Dance, playing some classic games like Jenga and dominoes, watching Gnomeo & Juliet and colouring the girls were occupied and quite content (the resident cats not so much). In the spirit of it being birthday season in our household (Janik’s birthday is in March, mine follows in April) today I’m sharing our recipe for Vanilla Bean Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting.

I learned from my son’s birthday party that kids don’t care to eat that much at parties….or really at all 😛. We had a ‘create your own pizza’ theme for his party and while there was evidence of a few nibbles here and there for the most part our effort to make homemade (organic) pizza dough and provide a smorgasbord of toppings was for not. After all, boys just wanna have fun too right? Lol Instead of pizza I decided to serve up Macaroni & Cheese Bites (think Mac & Cheese meets muffins) for the all girls birthday party. Instead of serving our Creamy Dreamy Mac & Cheese on a plate (boring) I spooned the mixture into lined muffin trays, topped with vegan parmesan cheese, and  baked them for a few minutes. Voila….Mac Muffs! (as we affectionately called them). One of my daughter’s friends asked why the Mac & Cheese didn’t taste like the one she has at home so I politely answered ‘I just use a different kind of cheese, a rare cheese, in my recipe!”☺.  All things considered I would say this vegan birthday dinner was a success!

After much ado about her preference for a chocolate vs vanilla cake (and icing too) my daughter settled on vanilla cake with chocolate icing. I was determined to make a cake she would fall in LOVE with and worked hard to create a moist, sweet-but-not-too-sweet cake topped with a heavenly chocolate frosting. “Let it be fluffy” I muttered under my breath as I watched it bake. My cakes typically tend to end up – vegan or not – on the dense side. I wanted a lighter cake…the kind you can enjoy with a scoop of ice cream and fruit and not feel you’ve overdone it.   I’m happy to share that this vanilla cake is THE one! It is incredibly simple to make and requires most basic pantry ingredients save for the vanilla bean pod. If you don’t normally have vanilla bean pods on hand I encourage you to give it a try… the results are well worth it. They add an authentic vanilla flavour you just can’t get with extract 😉. A cake is only as good as the frosting on top and this Dark Chocolate Frosting hits the mark without a doubt! The combination of cacao nibs and cocoa powder gives it a rich flavour while the texture is creamy with that just-right amount of sweetness. The girls devoured the cake and most even had seconds! No one questioned whether the cake had eggs or milk….it was simply cake in their minds (bliss for a vegan parent!)

If you’re looking for other sweet treats check out our Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie or our Classic Vegan Brownies.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my daughter and her friends did!

Preparation

  • 1/Prepare buttermilk (Tip: Add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to a measuring cup. Add unsweetened soy milk until you reach the 1-cup mark. Blend well; let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 2/Grease a cake pan with Earth Balance vegan butter (or similar)
  • 3/Add flour, baking powder and salt (see Quantities below) to a prep bowl; set aside
  • 4/Preheat oven to 350F

Instructions

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (270g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (10g)
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt (2g)
  • 1 1/4 cups cane sugar (275g)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (35g)
  • Vanilla bean caviar (from half a vanilla bean pod) (<5g)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod (end removed) (<5g)
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter, room temperature (130g)
  • 6 Tbsp aquafaba (90g)(Tip: Amounts to the bean liquid from one 398mL can)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (<5g)

Instructions

  • 1/Add cane sugar, coconut sugar, vanilla bean caviar and half a vanilla bean pod (sheath) to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Grind 8 sec/Speed 8.
    Note: Insert the butterfly whisk attachment to your Thermomix mixing blade before Step 2.
  • 2/Add butter to the TM bowl. Whisk 15 sec/Speed 3. This will cream together the butter and sugar. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
  • 3/Add aquafaba and vanilla  to the TM bowl. Mix 25 sec/Speed 3. Once again scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl using a spatula.
    Note: Remove the butterfly whisk attachment from your Thermomix mixing blade before Step 4.
  • 4/Add the reserved dry mixture (flour, baking powder & salt) and buttermilk to your Thermomix mixing bowl alternating between both,  beginning and ending with the dry mixture:
  • 4A/Add one-third the flour mixture (105g) + half of the buttermilk (70g) to the TM bowl. Mix 7 sec/Speed 3.5. Repeat using another third of the flour mixture (105g) and balance (half) of the buttermilk (80g).
  • 4B/Add the final third of the flour mixture (105g) to the TM bowl. Mix 7 sec/Speed 3.5. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure everything is combined.
  • 5/Pour the prepared cake batter into your greased cake pan. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before frosting.
  • 6/While the cake is baking prepare one batch of Divine Dark Chocolate Frosting (see Recipe Notes section)

Recipe Notes

*How to make Dark Chocolate Frosting:

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cacao nibs (13g)
  • 1 cup cane sugar (200g)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter, room temperature (80g)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (55g)
  • 5 Tbsp soy milk (75g)

Instructions

  • 1/Add cacao nibs and cane sugar to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Grind 10 sec/Speed 8. Repeat. Empty the powdered cacao sugar into a small prep bowl. Set aside.
  • 2/Add butter to the TM bowl. Heat 1 min 30 sec/90C/Speed 1. The butter should melt.
    Note: Insert the butterfly whisk attachment to your Thermomix mixing blade before Step 3.
  • 3Add the reserved cacao sugar mixture, cocoa powder and soy milk to the TM bowl. Whisk 25 sec/Speed 3. Repeat.
    Note: Remove the butterfly whisk attachment from your Thermomix mixing blade before emptying the frosting from the mixing bowl.

Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance; however, it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. multi-function processor, immersion blender etc).

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