I know I have been doing a bunch of cake related recipes as of recent. I wish I could give you a sincere apology, but I just can’t. I love cake too much to care! And what’s wrong with going a little crazy on the cake recipes? No one has ever said, “Man, I really could use less cake.” See what I mean?! This week I am so excited to be teaming up, once again, with the wonderful folks over at Califia Farms to bring you a sweetly decadent recipe. They sent me a bundle of goodies a few weeks back which included bottles of coconut milk, almond milk, and cold brew coffee. You know, dear friend, that my heart and soul lies with coffee. I am obsessed. It may or may not be a growing problem in my life, but who even cares?! Coffee is delicious and that’s all that matters. So, when I saw the cold brew and coconut milk, I knew exactly what to make with it…. you guessed it, bake a cake. 😊
When setting out on this recipe, my initial intentions were to do a chocolate tiramisu-type cake, resembling the one Linda made. Though when I started baking and testing, I came to the realization that 1). Vegan tiramisu cake was going to a challenge to create, and 2). This cake didn’t taste like tiramisu. The chocolate just overpowered every ‘tiramisu-esque” flavor I was trying to incorporate. Luckily, this cake is still INCREDIBLE! It’s this chocolate-y delight that just melts in your mouth with every bite. The cold brew and coconut milk work beautifully together. You get a nice robust flavor from the cold brew and espresso powder combo, playing perfectly with the rich dark chocolate. The cake crumbs are soft yet slightly crunchy, added a fun and unique texture to the cake. The cashew butter is a bowl of sweet deliciousness. It’s slightly sticky at first, but when you allow the cake to set in the fridge, the icing will stiffen up and become easier to cut and serve.
Then if you’re going to make a crazy chocolate cake, you have to go all the way and drizzle the whole thing with vegan salted caramel sauce because WHY NOT?! The caramel is poured all over the cake, creating this beautifully salty-sweet, sticky layer that adds a new and delectable flavor profile. What was so much fun about this cake was being able to show you all how I style it in real time from a recent live stream on my Instagram account. I want to do more live streams in the future. Let me know what you would like to see me do! I have already heard suggestions for styling my flatlays to natural dyeing cheesecloths. Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
Chocolate Almond Espresso Cake with Cashew Butter Icing+ Salted Caramel Sauce (Vegan)
Cake recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Cake crumbs recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
Icing recipe adapted from Crazy Vegan Kitchen
Salted caramel sauce recipe adapted from Food Wishes
For the cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup almond meal
2/3 cups dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup cold brew coffee
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup coconut sugar or any organic sugar
For the cake crumbs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup wafer cookies, grinded down into crumbs
½ cup coconut sugar or any organic sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the cake wash
¼ cup cold brew coffee + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing
1 ¾ cups raw cashews
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup coconut milk
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
For the salted caramel sauce
1 cup coconut sugar or any other organic sugar
5 tablespoons vegan butter
½ cup coconut cream
Pinch of sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease five 6 x 3/4-inch (I used these ones from Wilton) or two 8-inch cake pans with coconut oil, dust with flour and tap out the excess. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, add the apple cider vinegar to the coconut milk and cold brew coffee and whisk until the mixture is frothy. Set aside until needed.
In another bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, vanilla, and sugar. Pour in the vinegar/milk mixture and whisk until combined. Add about a third of the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix them together. Add another third, keep mixing for a few moments, and then add the final third. Be careful not to overmix the batter. You want to stir until everything is just combined then stop.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-25 or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cakes to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cook completely.
For the cake crumbs. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, grounded wafer cookies, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add in the oil and vanilla, and using your hands, mix until clumps form when mixture is pressed together between your fingers. Break mixture up into clusters and spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until crumble is slightly crunchy, 10–12 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
For the cashew butter icing. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the confectioners’ sugar and set aside. In a food processor, combine the cashews, agave, coconut oil, salt, vanilla, and coconut milk. Process this mixture down until it has a creamy, smooth consistency. You will have a few speckles of cashews still visible, and that is completely fine.
Transfer the cashew mixture into the mixing bowl and carefully mix until the icing begins to come together and all the sugar is incorporated. Cover and store in the fridge until needed.
For the caramel sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat up the sugar, whisking every so often until the sugar begins to brown, clump up, and melt into a caramel colored sauce. The longer the sauce is let cooking, a deeper and more biting taste will be achieved.
Once the sugar has liquefied and began to caramelize, remove it off the heat and allow to sit for 30 seconds. Carefully whisk in the butter until combined. Gently add the coconut cream and whisk until combined. Add in a pinch of salt, maple syrup, and vanilla. Let cool, about 10-15 minutes, before transferring to an air-tight container for storage.
For assembly. Remove each of the cakes from their pans. Place one onto your cake stand or plate. In a small bowl, combine the cold brew coffee and vanilla. With a pastry brush, gently brush some of the mixture over the layer of cake. Evenly spread some of the icing on top. Toss a handful of the cake crumbs over the cake, arranging them in a single layer. Repeat this process, carefully placing the other cake layers on top of each other until the cake is assembled. Place naked cake in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until the cake is chilled. Remove from the freezer and ice the cake with the remaining icing. While the cake is still cold to the touch, slowly pour over the caramel sauce, allowing the sauce to drip over the sides. Serve immediately.
Huge thanks to Califia Farms for sponsoring this recipe. Be sure to share your baking creations with the hashtag #terminatetorbake so we can obsess about baking together. And as always, all opinions, ramblings, stories, and recipe/adaptations are my own.