This cake is officially our most delicious “failure” to date! We set out to make vegan chocolate tres leches cake, inspired by a cake that used to be on Cafe Ba Ba Reeba’s dessert menu. Unfortunately, it’s been off of the menu for years, and I’ve never had the chance to try it. However, a reliable source (in the form of David, my cooking challenge partner) insists it was their most delicious dessert and that it’s a crime that it’s no longer on the menu. So for the Tapas challenge, we set out to re-create this legendary cake.
What we ended up with, however, was a very dense, decadent chocolate cake that did not soak in the milk sauce. In essence it tasted like a flourless chocolate cake, even though we used flour; and although we made it with three milks, it failed to be a tres leches cake! However, it was very delicious, although perhaps slightly too chocolatey & decadent (according to David, who’s had Ba Ba Reeba’s version of the cake; I loved the chocolate level as it was!). I think we learned enough during this challenge that we should be able to successfully make it next time.
Never having made a tres leches cake before, let alone a vegan chocolate one, we used our web-savviness to look up recipes for tres leches cakes, vegan tres leches cakes, chocolate cakes, and any combination of the above. We ended up choosing to combine two recipes: one for a vegan tres leches cake, and one for a chocolate tres leches cake.
We used the vegan tres leches cake recipe for the actual cake, except adding in the ½ cup of cocoa powder that the chocolate tres leches cake called for. For the milk sauce, we followed the chocolate tres leches recipe. Since it was a non-vegan recipe, we had to substitute one serving of soy milk powder plus serving of soy milk for evaporated milk. For the condensed milk and heavy cream, we just used vegan alternatives which were ordered from Pangea.
The transition between the two recipes is almost certainly where our cake went wrong. The vegan tres leches recipes expressly states that the milk mixture must be boiling before pouring over the cake, otherwise it won’t absorb! However, since we were using the non-vegan chocolate tres leches recipe for the milk mixture, we followed its instructions to pour non-boiling milk mixture over the cake. The difference, however, is that the cake in the non-vegan recipe is not allowed to cool completely before the milk is poured onto it. In both recipes, either the cake or the milk was hot, allowing the milk to soak into the cake. When we combined the recipes, we poured a cold milk mixture onto a cool cake, which might explain why it didn’t soak properly.
When we try making this cake again, we’ll definitely heat the milk to boiling before pouring it onto the cake! We’ll also scale back the amount of cocoa powder we used, to allow the milk flavor to come through a bit more, rather than being overpowered by chocolate!
Our Most Delicious Mistake Ever: A Decadently Dense Milk-Infused Chocolate Cake!
For the cake:
1 ¾ cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ cup Earth Balance whipped spread
1 cup vegan sugar
⅔ cup filtered water
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cider vinegar (unfiltered)
½ cup cocoa powder + xx cups water
For the milk sauce
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
For the Chocolate Ganache
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350'F. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan. Line the pan with parchment.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate smaller bowl whisk salt, margarine, sugar, water, vanilla and vinegar until blended. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, whisking till smooth. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Remove the cake and allow it to cool.
Cut the cooled cake in half horizontally so that it forms two thin layers and put the bottom half of the cake back into the cake pan and the top half in a separate cake pan. Punch holes in both halves of cake with wooden skewer.
Combine the ingredients for the milk sauce and pour evenly over the two layers. Allow mixture to soak into the cake for at least 30 minutes.
To make the ganache, in a small, heavy saucepan on medium heat, stir the cream and chocolate together until chocolate is melted and mixture is blended. Add vanilla and stir for 1 minute.
When ready to assemble, run a spatula around the inside of cake pans and slightly under layers to loosen. Be very careful, as cakes will be very moist and more difficult to handle.
Place the serving platter over one pan and invert, releasing the cake onto the platter. Pour approximately ⅓ of the ganache over the layer and spread with spatula.
Using your hand or a spatula to hold second layer in pan, invert onto frosted layer and carefully lift pan away. Set the cake on a rack over a jellyroll pan and pour the warm ganache over the cake, smoothing with a spatula to completely coat top and sides of cake.
Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes and scape any excess frosting from the jellyroll pan back into the saucepan.
Heat excess frosting, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly and again pour over the cake, smoothing with a spatula over top and sides. Refrigerate until glaze is set.
Let cake stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh strawberries or dust lightly with powdered sugar.