Are you looking for a way to express your gratitude to whoever invited you to this weekend’s barbeque?
Are you staring down too many pounds of fresh berries that you couldn’t resist at the farmer’s market?
Are you sick of your vegan friends getting in the way of your desire to top everything with whipped cream?
This cake is the answer to all of these questions.
This time of year, fruit pies and cobblers get all of the attention. And sure, summer fruits are worth celebrating, but why not invite chocolate to the party? Personally, I think fresh berries and dark chocolate are really complimentary flavors – antioxidants on top of antioxidants, naturally! And of course berries & cream are a classic combo (and a personal weakness of mine), so getting swept up by the whipped coconut cream sensation taking over the internet solidified the vision of my perfect mid-summer dessert. I mean, any topping that can unite the vegan and paleo communities has got to be some powerful stuff, right?
This was my first time whipping coconut cream, which I understand can be kind of tricky – from what I’ve read online, there seems to be a lot of brand-to-brand and can-to-can variation in fat content of your coconutty starting materials. I used Trader Joe’s coconut cream, which is supposed to be the most foolproof fat-rich option in stores, but I still had trouble even achieving soft peaks. After things continued to fall flat after several minutes of whipping, I experimented with adding a spoonful of cornstarch to the mix, but I don’t think I recommend it. It didn’t have much impact on the consistency, and it was detectable in the flavor… not terrible, but not ideal. Maybe xanthan gum or arrowroot powder would work better? Let me know if you find out!
(Let me be clear: whipping issues aside, it was totally delicious. Lightly sweet, creamy coconut perfection! I’m a believer.)
On to the cake: I’m an unabashed omnivore, but I’m also into baking experiments and figured why not go full vegan to match the coconut topping? But I still needed it to be a real dessert… I didn’t want to settle for a mega-healthful granola-muffin, you know? I found the right balance in an adaptation from vegan guru Minimalist Baker, who apparently knows her way around a chocolate cake
. I was worried at first, because when I cut the first slice after assembly I was a little dissatisfied with the texture – borderline gummy? But after a little time in the fridge I think it dramatically improved into a super moist fudgy-ness. So it’s perfect for make-ahead convenience!
My cake was just for a small gathering, so the single layer was a perfect size. But if you’re planning to supply a big party, this would be SO impressive and delicious doubled and stacked. This could be some serious red white and blue action for your BBQ!
Have I still not given you enough reasons to bake this? 1.) You’re crazy; 2.) I’m just going to leave this here:
Dark Chocolate Cake with Berries & Coconut Cream
For the cake:
3/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
For the topping:
1 can coconut cream or milk, refrigerated overnight
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 cups mixed fresh berries
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar and allow to sit for several minutes. Meanwhile, oil an 8-inch round pan and dust the surface lightly with cocoa powder. Add the applesauce, coffee, coconut oil and vanilla to the mixing bowl and whisk until frothy. Sift in all remaining ingredients and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before topping.
If using coconut milk, open the can and scoop the solid coconut cream away from the separated coconut water at the bottom of the can. If using canned coconut cream, this step is unnecessary. Combine the coconut cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl, and whip with a stand mixer or hand mixer until fluffy.
Transfer the cooled cake to a large plate and spread the whipped coconut cream in an even layer. Avoid spreading too close to the edges, because the fruit will displace some of the topping. Arrange the berries in an artful mountain on top. The cake can be served immediately, but a few hours of refrigeration help to thicken the cream and firm the cake's texture.