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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dairy Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake

Dairy free salted caramel chocolate fudge cake

there's a lot to be said about the people who have been lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy all their life, the main one being: how do you do it?

true, they've been without so they don't know what it's like to be without. but as someone who used to enjoy and heavily indulged in cheese, cold glasses of milk, toast slathered with butter, i'm finding it hard to be without. acceptance is coming around, but before that, there was denial, anger and compromise.

denial that my body would betray me in such a manner.

anger that something so delicious could make me feel so dreadful.

compromise that just a single bite of yummy ice cream would be worth the stomach cramps (it's not).

to be truthful, i don't know if i'm just lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy. i could try the lactaid pills but the recent pain free eating makes me reluctant to experiment and find out for sure. instead, i am finding alternatives to the things i used to partake in, one of them being dessert. dw & i enjoyed the long Labor Day weekend by baking. the heat dipped enough that we were able to turn on the oven and spend time in the kitchen without sweating too much. i had my heart set on a grown up cake (making cake pops these last months has been crushing my soul. i am so dramatical!), one that would not only be pretty to look at, but taste good without the upset stomach. dw & i spent a good deal of time dissecting a particular recipe, debating on what alternatives to use, not only based on taste but for health purposes, as well as ensuring it doesn't eff up the integrity of the cake itself. it was stressful but i was determined to make it a success.

*disclaimer: listen, i'm not a doctor, specifically, i'm not YOUR doctor. this adaptation is just an alternative to the full dairy version. i realize that margarine is not good for you, it's one molecule away from being plastic, it's artificial, it's processed... blah blah blah. i haven't perfected non-dairy baking yet, and i suspect i will spend a great deal of time figuring it out. there will be misses. quite a bit of it. there'll be a few wins, hopefully. i'll keep trudging along and with grace, i intend to chronicle the journey. anything i can learn, please do pass it along but if it's just to tell me that i'm being unhealthy, by gawd, i'll just put that in the growing pile of S.T.F.U.



i will say, a slice of this every so often should not hurt you. anything in moderation is good, lead a healthy lifestyle, run 2-3 times a week like i try to, eat your greens and consume whole foods. as my cousin zeke said when i gave him a slice: "It tastes this good, AND I won't be farting later?!"

Dairy Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake
adapted from Sweet & Salty

i doubled the cake batter recipe, creating 3 layers, using 2 8" round pans. one of the pans had more batter than the other, so that i could just slice it into 2 layers. as a result, bake time varied. the lesser batter pan was about 35minutes, while the other pan was 5-7minutes longer. be diligent with checking the doneness. you want the cake to be spongy with just the right amount of moisture but not wet that it runs. trust me.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (i used rademaker)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup almond milk (i used silk's unsweetened almond milk)
3/4 cup hot coffee (i believe hot water would've been just fine...)
2 eggs lightly beaten at room temp
2 tsp vanilla (i used penzy's vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350F. you can prepare the pans with parchment paper, grease it etc. i didn't bother. it was slightly stressful getting the cakes out but you know, that particular challenge was nothing ...

In mixer bowl, sift all dry ingredients (remember: i doubled the recipe). add in the wet ingredients, except for the hot liquid. i added the hot coffee a tablespoon at a time, only to ensure the eggs did not scramble. it's tedious but worth the step to avoid chocolate scrambled eggs. just saying. mix well, scrape down the sides etc. pour into pans. the batter will be liquidy. don't be alarmed.

Bake for 25 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean–approximately 35 minutes for the pan with less batter, 5-7 minutes longer for the other pan. BE DILIGENT WITH CHECKING.

i cooled these beauties in the pans over night.

Salted Caramel Filling

1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Silk's soy creamer
generous pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups Shedd's Willow Run Soy Margarine (3 sticks)
4 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

make the salted caramel by placing 1/2 cup + 2 TBL sugar and water in saucepan to a boil over medium heat. cook until caramel reaches dark amber, swirl gently. remove from heat, add in the creamer slowly and whisk until smooth. add in the sea salt, allow to cool.

*note: dw doubled the caramel recipe, for ease of use. we now have a small container of the caramel to be used for apple dipping or just plain snacking on...

meanwhile, place soy margarine mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed. keep in mind, the margarine is softer than butter, it won't fluff up. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Wipe the mixer bowl clean with lemon juice, and place egg whites and remaining sugar into bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally and gently until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160° on a candy thermometer. the mixture will smell like egg white omelet. don't be alarmed. just be good about whisking constantly.

Remove the bowl from heat, and place back onto the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. then increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until peaks form. when the bottle of the bowl is cool to the touch, reduce the speak and add the beaten soy margarine, a cup at a time. be sure to mix well and scrape down the sides.

Switch to paddle attachment and flip to low speed, add cooled caramel, and beat until smooth.

Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup + 2 TBLs unsweetened process cocoa powder (i used Rademaker)
1/4 cup + 2 TBLS boiling water
1 1/2 cups unsalted Soy Margarine (3 sticks)
1/2 cup confectioners’ (icing/powdered) sugar (*note: i like my icing to be stiff, so i actually added in an additional 3 cups. check your consistency. butter & margarine are two different fats and it depends on how hard you want your frosting to be)
pinch of salt
1 pound (454 g/16 oz) good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (i used bittersweet ghirardelli and semi-sweet dark Scharffen Berger)

Combine cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small bowl and stir until it cocoa has dissolved.

In mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine, the icing sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy. make sure it's well incorporated.

Reduce mixer speed to low, and add melted chocolate, mixing until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated.

assembling it was the easy part:

first layer cake, a bit of filling, another layer cake, more filling and then the final layer. any leftover caramel cream (there wasn't any) can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week or for about a month in the freezer. cover the entire monstrosity with the fudge frosting. be generous, because any leftover will be eaten anyway. trust.

key tools to use: lazy susan, off set spatula, and cake slicer. invest people. well worth the money.


for added fun, dw played with spun sugar and created spirals and other random pieces that left us at a loss to how to use properly.


  1. Hahahaha. Rock that margarine. It's baby steps in the dairy-free life. I can't [well, shouldn't] do the dairy thing anymore due to a reaction to the hormones [I break out like whoa]. It's the hardest thing. Ever. I don't mind most of the dairy-free switches, but I love cheese almost more than life itself.

    You'll get there and fudgy cake makes the journey that much better.

  2. This looks BEAUTIFUL! Totally awesome. Yum!

    I'm glad you are being kind on yourself for using margarine. I used to beat myself up about using it when we were not eating butter at all. But really it's just not worth it! So glad to hear you are feeling better. Once you feel good again it's so not worth going back eh?

  3. How beautiful! Salted caramel is one of my favorite dessert components. I love the spun sugar, it's perfect.

  4. Yum!! Don't beat yourself up (or let anyone else beat you up) for making it work for you. There are worse things you could be eating than margarine. Like, say, eggplant (ewwwww).

    Go you for working your recipes and your dairy restriction!

  5. Whatever, dude -- you're totally right: A little bit of anything's not going to kill you. And being able to eat a slice of cake every once in a while might prevent you from killing somebody else, so it's a win-win.

    I'm sorry, in the meantime, that your stomach has been strugglin' lately. You'll find your way without dairy before too long, and it won't even be something you have to think about anymore.

  6. I'm glad you're doing what's best for your health and avoiding dairy! I found out I was allergic in my early 20s, so I know exactly how hard it is to give milk up. It's definitely baby steps, and a few months of saying "oh, it probably wasn't THAT bad when I had milk... let me try again!"
    I bake vegan most of the time now, as the switches for being dairy-free are less noticeable in vegan baking (where things have been modified) than just regular baking with no dairy. There's a lot of great stuff on dairy-free blogs, too!
    It'll get easier with time, I promise. And there's always still DARK chocolate!

  7. wow, that cake looks gorgeous! I do lactose free baking since 10 years now and needed quiet a bit to figure my favorite frosting margarine for example. All I can say, keep trying it's worth it.

  8. That looks effing amazing.

    (Of course, these days, anything with salted caramel gets my vote.)

    (Maybe I should change that to "anything with a high caloric content." I hate myself.)

  9. A little late to chirp in, the cake is dark and handsome, I was looking forward to see your recipe. I myself consume margarine with toast. I just prefer it over butter, perhaps it's the childhood memories thing.

  10. michelle, it's really the journey that i'm enjoying and if the destination ends with fudgy cake, i'm am in!

    emma, thank you! i am still keeping my options open & hope to be able to find other alternatives in dairy free baking :)

    Jen, thanks! i really enjoy the salt + sugar taste and this cake definitely highlighted it.

    joanna, the way you feel about eggplant is how i feel about water chestnuts or carrots.

    meister, exactly, moderation is so key to anything. and having a slice of yum cake is not such a bad thing.

    stephanie, i know it will get easier, especially with just so many different alternative milks like almond or rice to pick from. i'll get there but in the meantime i'll chronicle it all.

    anne, thank you and yes, it is so worth it!

    stephanie harsh, you are too hard on yourself. as i said, a slice of this (or even two) will not hurt you. make this, with or without dairy, and enjoy it!

    pickyin, thank you. that is so interesting that you prefer margarine on your toast rather than butter. i actually tried it with toast the other day and it was not bad at all.

  11. This cake was sofa-king GOOD! Absolutely moist, deliciously creamy layers, and chocolaty goodness. Good job Angry Asian and D!

  12. I love the salty/sweet play in desserts. Salted caramel especially. I'm now frantically searching my calendar for the next birthday.