Monday, September 5, 2011

Chocolate Balsamic Cake with Red Wine

For those of you who don't know me, I'll let you in on a little secret - I don't really love chocolate. But put a glass of red wine in front of me and suddenly I'm prepared to take the most hard-core chocoholic to the mat over the last piece of whatever's in the house that even hints of chocolate.

So when I came across this recipe for vegan chocolate cake from Amy over at Fragrant Vanilla Cake, I just about flipped. For all you dedicated vegans out there, your karmic reward is this incredible recipe that non-vegans would likely never bother to seek out: chocolate cake held together not by eggs, but by red wine. Yes. Seriously. Oh, and with a cherry on top: a couple of tablespoons of balsamico that pull double duty for adding flavor as well as working with the baking soda to make this puppy rise.

I have to admit, having been raised on deliciously buttery eggy cakes, I was totally skeptical about how this was going to turn out. But I was determined to try a vegan cake and this one sounded way too interesting to pass up. Still, I braced myself for it to be totally dry or exhibit some other kind of weirdness and just kept my fingers crossed that it would at least be "passable"- lest I endure a resounding chorus of "I-told-you-so's" from my family. So imagine my joyous surprise when I took the first bite of this gobsmacking goodness...go ahead, imagine it. If you're picturing a cartoon character with eyes bugging out in tune with a fire alarm and passing out with little pink hearts and stars circling my head...well, you're obviously as weird as I am, but you'd be spot on.

Incidentally, as much as I'd love to, I cannot take credit for the awesomely awesome term "gobsmacking" - I shamelessly stole it from PeaSoupEats, a cheeky vegan blogger in Cornwall who if you don't already know, you absolutely must. In fact, I highly recommend pecking around her delightful little blog whilst stuffing yourself with this delectable cake!

Chocolate Balsamic Cake with Red Wine 
Recipe adapted from Fragrant Vanilla Cake
Makes one 9-inch single layer cake*

*if you want a double-decker - which, now that I've tried it, I highly recommend - double the quantities below to make two cakes and sandwich some yumm-o frosting in between

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (pastry flour works best, but naturally I didn't have any so I used regular wheat flour)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup sugar (original recipe calls for maple sugar - use it if you have it!)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Amy recommends lining the cake pan with parchment paper and coating the parchment paper (and pan sides) with nonstick spray. I didn't have any paper on hand (found out the hard way a few months ago that wax paper is NOT a viable substitute) so I just used non-stick spray on a standard 9" non-stick cake pan and it worked fine.

Anyhoo. Onwards...

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Next, whisk oil, wine, and vanilla extract together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. And while the bottle is open, feel free to pour yourself a glass and toast yourself for endeavoring to bake something.

Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and stir quickly until fully combined. Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cakes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

Cool cake completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter and peel off parchment paper (if you used it). Let your masterpiece cool completely before frosting.

Use your favorite frosting (there's a great one on the original recipe page that uses Tofutti cream cheese and tons more on Amy's site). You'll want to be generous with the frosting, not only because it's delicious but also because eggless cakes, whilst they can be surprisingly moist, do tend to be a little more delicate than their eggy cousins and will crumble more readily under pressure.

If you want to make it insanely decadent - go ahead, you deserve it - top it with some vegan caramel sauce to bliss yourself out completely.

Days later, I'm still seeing hearts and stars...


  1. God, that looks amazing! Must try:)

  2. Glad you found inspiration in my recipe :)! Your cake looks just as delicious if not the caramel on top! Yummm!

  3. Can use replace the olive oil with applesauce or banana?

  4. It looks yummy...
    Fabulous job.
    Keep going.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Awesome visual from your "cartoon character" description! Well done!

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  7. I don't know if I could deal with lots of wine and lots of balsamic in a cake... but Dreena Burton has a fantastic low fat double layer chocolate cinnamon cake in "eat, drink and be vegan" (which I think you'd really like). It uses a tablespoon of balsamic and is only lightly chocolatey...

  8. You'd be surprised how subtle the wine and balsamic is in this cake - the intensity of both cooks off in the baking so you're left with just enough hints of each to complement the chocolate and give it that little extra sumthin-sumthin. Oh, and LOVE Eat, Drink & Be Vegan =)


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