I am super in love with these. I know you probably have just stopped believing me on that front by now because I say it so often it’s lost all meaning. However, I don’t understand what’s not to like here. This week I’m actually incorporating two different condiments. Double the chance for disaster? Of course. But, despite the hot mess these are appearance-wise, they are actually so, so good. The frosting is mocha-infused vegan mayonnaise frosting, the cake has a bunch of sauerkraut in it. But honestly, don’t let either of those things scare you. The sauerkraut basically just makes it have a slight German chocolate cake texture (i.e. as if you’d just added a bunch of coconut instead of sauerkraut. I mean, visualize the two things and is that really so surprising?).
And what is mayonnaise anyway except for some kind of fat, acid and milk (in the vegan case, non-dairy milk). That sounds suspiciously like frosting to me (vegan butter, possibly lemon juice or zest, or some other acid for flavouring, and non-dairy milk to thin it out). Now that I’ve tricked you on board this messy cake train, I’m gonna tell you how we truly take this over the top. Step one, add some booze soaked fruit to your cake batter (because….OK, you don’t have to do this at all. I just have problems and think that it makes everything taste better. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now how often I incorporate that. Plus, uh, now you’re getting some much needed fruity fibre in your diet? And, you know, if you’re sick or something, alcohol will kill all the germs, so really, how can you not do this? You’re health is important). OK, now maybe you’re already thinking that’s way more than enough. But no!!! The fun doesn’t stop there. Why not also make some super easy sponge toffee (seriously it’s easier than you think. Do you have 5-10 minutes, sugar of your choice, baking soda and a crazy sweet tooth? Get on this), crush that bad boy up and liberally sprinkle on top of your cake for some much needed crunch factor. I am of course writing this to you from my diabetic coma hospital bed, but it was totally worth it (for some reason, despite it’s fruity health claims, the hospital wouldn’t let me bring more of this in with me to consume? The health care system is clearly taking a turn for the worse 😉 ).
The actual biggest tragedy about these to me were that I’d intended to split it into two different posts. One for the sauerkraut cake, and a separate post for the frosting (and because I don’t want the awesome pun that I’d come up with for my mayo frosting to go to waste, it was going to be “Amayonnaising Grace”. Which I at least found “amayonnaisingly” hilarious, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Mostly because I’m not generally in the habit of just whipping up some frosting with nothing for it to go on, so I figured it would be the perfect accompaniment to this cake since cakes need frosting (otherwise they’re just “muffins” or “sweet bread”, am I right?). Another possibility that entered my cranium was to just make a frosting dip. But that sounded disturbingly dangerous, so I instantly turned my mind to other things before that became too tempting.
Oh, um, I also forgot to mention that apparently all those “healthy” sugars that are already in this were clearly not enough 😉 . To temper some of the sweetness in the frosting and sponge toffee crumble, I also opted to just melt some straight up high quality darkish (65%) chocolate and drizzle some of that over this as well. Super genius decision on my part, seriously (when is adding melted chocolate not a good choice though? Talk about your stating the obvious 😉 ). I took these photos pretty soon after doing this, so you can’t tell here, but once the chocolate set, it added a slight crunch to the top as well. Every bite of this was creamy, crispy, crunchy, rich, chewy (the fruit), and just everything I could possibly want in a cake. And that’s coming from someone who’s opinion on cake is, believe it or not, very “take it or leave it” (I just often find it’s too dry and paired with icing that seems to be straight-up icing sugar, slightly watered down with either butter or milk. Grocery store birthday cakes anyone? I apologize if you love those cakes….wait a minute, no I don’t, I feel you have something seriously wrong with you). In particular, I tend not to be the biggest fan of chocolate cake. I love chocolate in it’s true chocolaty form, and brownies I can get behind if they’re of the fudgy variety, but typically, I’m more of a vanilla gal.
“Amber, I’m bored” I can hear you saying. “Where’s the wit? Where’s the cheesiness?” That’s how good this cake was. My brain just shut down completely while focusing on how blissed out this was making me.
Other side benefit of these, if you’re not jonesing to make a bunch of three tiered mini cakes? I baked my layers in muffin tins (only filling partway), but then used a round cookie cutter after to get the edges of my layers to look clean(er). Then I of course had leftover cake bits, and there was absolutely no way I was letting that go to waste. Conveniently, I also had leftover frosting. Thus, I combined my cake bits with my leftover frosting, chilled it and rolled it into little cake balls, which were then dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with leftover sponge toffee crumbs. It was while eating the more “bite-sized” version of these that I finally figured out what they reminded me of. Coffee Crisp bars, but way way better. A Coffee Crisp if it were made by Jamie Oliver, or Julia Child, or Susur Lee. Which is the reason there are no pictures of them. I made about ten and, uh, if they had been nerdy humans instead of cakes, they most definitely would’ve had the pasty white complexion of living in basements and never seeing the light of day 😳.
I a”mayonnais”inged myself with these, but I’m really “kraut”ing on you to spread the word and make these babies.
Yield: 1 dozen mini cakes
- 2/3 cups vegan butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 egg replacer
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups pastry flour (or AP Flour is fine too)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- large pinch salt
- 2/3 cup strong coffee
- 2/3 cup sauerkraut, rinsed, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
- 2/3 cup rum (or other alcohol) soaked fruit (optional)
Mayo Mocha Frosting:
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s this time, but I also enjoy Vegannaise)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup rum (or bourbon)
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons maple extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups icing sugar
Espresso Sponge Toffee Crumble:
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup, or agave, or corn syrup if avoiding honey)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
- Good quality melted dark chocolate if desired
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease muffin tins (you’ll end up needing to do about 36 layers, so unless you have a lot, you’ll likely have to do this in a couple of batches)
- In a large mixing bowl, cream vegan butter and brown sugar. Add the egg replacer and vanilla and beat until mixed.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In two batches, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the coffee to your wet mixture.
- Fold in sauerkraut and rum-soaked fruit (if using).
- Fill prepared muffin cups about 1/4-1/3 full (depending how thin you want your layers. Just remember though that thinner layers will bake faster, so be sure to keep an eye on them).
- Bake at for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I started checking on these after about 8 minutes just to be safe). Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks; cool completely.
- Once fully cooled, use a 3-inch round cookie cutter if desired to get clean edges to your layers (be sure to save extra cake bits for cake balls though!)
Mayo Mocha Frosting:
- In a small saucepan on the stovetop, melt together the mayonnaise and brown sugar. Boil for about 2 minutes (or until just slightly thickened). Allow to cool for a few minutes before beating in the rest of the ingredients with a hand mixer.
Espresso Sponge Toffee Crumble:
- In a small bowl, sift together baking soda and instant coffee powder and keep it handy (you’ll have to work very quickly when you add this to your mixture).
- Line a baking sheet with silpat, wax or parchment paper and also keep this close to hand.
- In a large saucepan (it might not seem like you’ll need a large pan, but trust me on this one), cook sugar, honey and maple syrup over high heat, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally to prevent mixture from burning to the bottom, until sugars are completely dissolved and mixture has darkened slightly in colour – about 5-6 minutes.
- Quickly whisk in baking soda and coffee powder mixture. Mixture will triple in size. Carefully pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet without stirring, to retain volume. Let sponge toffee mixture cool completely.
- Once cooled, break off as much as you think you’ll want for topping your cakes and finely chop into crumbs (or roll over it with a rolling pin)
- To assemble, take one layer of cake and top with frosting, add 2nd layer of cake, then more frosting, then final layer of cake.
- If using, pour melted chocolate over the top of the cake until it begins to drizzle down the sides.
- While chocolate is still wet, liberally sprinkle with sponge toffee crumble.