Oct 22, 2010

Vegan chocolate cake with chocolate-hazelnut ganache

Sometimes the best recipes come out of a cooking disaster. Case in point: I made the Pumpkin Cake with Hazelnut Ganache from the Millenium cookbook, and it was literally a flop. For some crazy reason I decided to add fresh figs to the cake, and it didn’t rise. Sadly, it was more like a flat pancake. But the hazelnut ganache filling was about the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted. And because the recipe called for twice as much ganache as was needed, I had a lot left.

I had guests coming for dinner, so I needed a quick solution to my dessert crisis. So I jumped online and found a foolproof vegan chocolate cake recipe courtesy of Moosewood.  I spread the ganache in between two layers of the chocolate cake, and voila – I had the most decadent vegan cake in the universe. My guests loved it, and my friends at the office were blown away when I served them the leftovers the next day – no one could believe it was vegan.

One word of warning – the Moosewood cake is a bit difficult to cut into two layers.  I ended up using a flexible plastic cutting board to cut through the middle and lift the layers onto the plate.  An easier option would be to bake two of the chocolate cakes and use those as your layers. The recipe below if for one cake, so double it if you want to go that route. If you do, there’s no need to double the amount of ganache – this recipe makes a nice thick layer.

I have to admit, this cake certainly doesn’t qualify as health food. While it contains no butter, it’s incredibly rich and fairly high in fat due to the chocolate and hazelnuts. So this is a “special occasion” cake, to be sure. But it’s so worth the splurge.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with  Chocolate-Hazelnut Ganache
(adapted from The Millenium Cookbook and Moosewood)

For the ganache:

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup soy milk or almond milk
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted (be sure to use a high quality semisweet chocolate here, such as Dagoba or Scharffen Berger)

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour (I used half whole wheat pastry flour)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup organic canola oil
1 cup cold  water or coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the ganache, grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Add the soy/almond milk and process to thoroughly combine with the nuts. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate and process until fully blended. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or more. Before using the filling, let sit at room temperature for one hour.

In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients for the cake. In a smaller bowl, mix the oil, water or coffee and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir with a whisk until smooth. Quickly stir in the vinegar.

Oil and flour a 9-inch spring form pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper (use the removable bottom of the pan as a template to cut your circle.) Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely. Remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into two layers (see note above.) Transfer the bottom layer to a cake plate or stand, and spread the ganache on top. If the ganache is too stiff to spread, put the bowl in a hot water bath briefly. Top with the second layer of cake. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with raspberries.

Serves 10-12

See more recipes: Baked goods and desserts, Vegan


  • Darienne

    Sounds wonderful. I have offered dessert as our contribution to a small dinner party next week and this is now going to be it.

    I looked up the ‘flexible plastic cutting board’ online and can’t figure out exactly how it helped you to cut the difficult-to-cut cake. Please explain. Thanks.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Darienne, to answer your question – I took the plastic cutting board and cut into the cake with the edge of it and kept going until it divided the cake into two layers, then lifted the cutting board to remove the top layer. So it worked like a giant spatula.

  • […] Gluten-free lemon almond polenta cake from A Food Centric Life (I have had this and it is g-o-o-d!) Vegan chocolate cake with chocolate hazelnut ganache from What Would Cathy Eat? BlogGlue = window.BlogGlue || window.Arkayne || {}; BlogGlue.baseurl = […]

  • Sophia

    OMG, I tried your cake, it was absolutely delicious!! I used almonds instead of hazelnuts. This is an amazing recipe, thanks!!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Sophia, you are one of the few people who have tried this cake. I’m not sure why, because it really is great. Try it with hazelnuts next time, I think you’ll love it!

  • Leah

    Made cupcakes from this recipe for my youngest daughter’s birthday. Everyone loved it so much I am making it again this weekend for my older daughter’s birthday. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipe!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Leah, so glad you liked the cupcakes!

  • JohniRico

    I didn’t have hazelnuts, so I used pecans and some nutella.
    It turned out wonderfully.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Johnny

    Hi Cathy — wonderful recipe. Made it yesterday… Yum Yum!!! We added some Torani Raspberry syrup (from the grocery store) along with the fresh raspberries for garnish and it was wonderful… We also used 1 cup strong [Kahlua brand] coffee to the cake instead of water as you suggested which added a little more to the cake flavoring…. Cake was very moist and ganache was great… Look forward to trying more of your recipes!!! Johnny and Fay

  • Johnny

    PS — my wife, Fay, provided a good tip for cutting thin cakes which is to wrap thread around the circumference of the cake at the desired cut level, cross the thread ends over and then pull the thread taught until it cuts through to the center. Then you can easily slide a thin plastic cutting board between the already cut layers and lift the top layer off.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Love your comments, Johnny! Next time try Guinness instead of the water. It’s fantastic. You can’t taste the beer but it definitely adds something.

  • Laura

    It worked! (for those of you like me who are dubious of internet recipes) Thanks Cathy!

  • Jessica

    Hi Cathy! Thanks so much for your delicious recipe. I made this for my friend’s birthday and everyone loved it. I doubled the recipe as you advised, and made two cakes to layer. The ganache was to-die-for with fresh raspberries. I can hardly wait for a reason to make this again!

  • So glad you made it, Jessica! Especially love that you braved the two-layer version. I agree, this cake is to die for.

  • niele

    Hello, what do you use for coffee? If I use instant, how much should I put in a cup of water? Thank you!

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