The Most Unhealthy Thing I’ve Ever Made (aka Nate Cake)

One of Queenie’s friends, Nate, recently celebrated a birthday, and I attempted to make him the cake of his dreams in honor of the day.  Yes, his dream cake.  Some months ago, our families sat around a table, wistfully discussing some of the most delicious things we’d ever eaten and dreaming up the most delicious things we could imagine eating.  During this discussion, Nate declared that the ultimate cake would contain the following:  a layer of Twinkies, a layer of frosting, a brownie layer, a layer of whipped cream, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

My stomach turns slightly just typing that, but we decided that if that’s what he wants, that’s what he’s going to get, veganized of course!

The first layer presented the first challenge because Twinkies are definitely not vegan.  Like most (if not all) of the Hostess snack line, they contain beef fat (or tallow), so we were going to have to find or make a vegan version.  Thankfully, our fabulous local vegan grocery store, Vegan Haven, carries Dillos, and they had enough in stock to create Nate’s first dream layer.  In case you’re not fortunate enough to live near Vegan Haven, here’s a link to help you track them down:

https://store.veganessentials.com/dillos-creme-filled-snack-cakes-by-cakewalk-baking-co-p2706.aspx

Next up, I made the classic vanilla buttercream frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and put it in the ‘fridge while I got things ready.  You should own this book, but if you don’t, here’s the recipe:

http://www.food.com/recipe/vegan-basic-vanilla-fluffy-buttercream-frosting-453377

Next up, I made the brownie recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, and it turned out great.  Because it was larger than the amount of space that would be taken up by the “Twinkie” layer, I had to do a little figuring and cutting to make it just right.

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First I just sat the wrapped Dillos on top of the brownies to eyeball what I’d need to do.  Next, I spread a layer of the frosting on a cake pan, figuring that this would not only be tasty (more frosting!), but it would also serve to anchor the Dillos.

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Once I placed the Dillos on the frosting, that gave me the dimensions of the cake and what size to trim the brownie layer.  Measuring happened.

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The next step was to thoroughly frost the Dillo layer, including all of the cracks and crevices.  Frosting, frosting and more frosting.

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I placed the brownie layer atop the frosted Dillos very carefully…

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… and frosted the sides of the brownie layer to make it seem like one cohesive cake.  I left the top unfrosted because it gets a different treatment (but it would also work to frost the whole thing).

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I left the cake like this until right before serving, at which point I topped it with whipped cream, which needed to stay cold until we were ready to serve.  Specifically, I used So Delicious Coco Whip, which I had never used before.  Oh my – love it!  Light, fluffy, divine.  I bought it frozen at Vegan Haven and then thawed it in the refrigerator, where it sat until its big moment.  Here’s some info about it:

http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/products/coconut-milk-frozen-desserts/cocowhip-original

Once I’d spread a nice, thick layer of the Coco Whip on top of the brownie, I drizzled chocolate sauce (Santa Cruz Organic Chocolate Syrup) on top.

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I honestly only thought that Nate and Queenie would dare to try this messy creation, but all of the adults, myself included, dug in as well.  It was surprisingly tasty and unsurprisingly nausea-inducing!  That’s a whole lot of sugar for my constitution.  But the guest of honor was happy, so I put this in the win column!  If you have a sugar fiend in your midst, he or she might just like it, too.

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Enjoy!  xo

Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a bazillion times:  you need to get your hands on Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  This taco recipe is yet another reason.  While the dish requires a bit of planning (there are various components and some need to marinate or sit and improve with time), the active time is pretty minimal.  And the bottom line:  these tacos are delicious and worth any and all effort on your part.

The tempeh preparation involves a few steps:  simmering in water for about 10 minutes; marinating in a delicious beer/chili/lime marinade for an hour or more; and then grilling or frying it (as I did) until it’s nicely browned, tender and flavorful.  Final step:  slice thinly.  Yum.

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The recipe also includes a simple but perfect tangy cabbage slaw, as well as a “lime crema” that is divine.  There are a variety of recommended toppings, but I kept it simple, opting for avocado only.

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These components come together to make a super tasty and satisfying plate of food.  Get this book!

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Enjoy!  xo