The wait is finally over, blog-friends! For our final Valentine’s Day Dinner post, we present you with… The Best Vegan Lava Cake Ever! It may sound a little arrogant, or maybe you think this might fall under the classification of “too-good-to-be-true”, but I assure you that cake has everything you want in a lava cake, vegan or not! I mean, I spent days trying to find or create the perfect recipe, and by the end of it I still wanted more of this cake!
|Vegan Lava Cake with Ice Cream and Grand Marnier Glaze!|
Before I even began I knew it would be a tricky process, so I made a checklist containing all the important qualities I wanted this cake to have. That way, I would know when I had found success! My checklist went as follows:
- 100% Vegan (duh)
- No crazy science ingredients (nothing that could be found in a science lab is allowed in this cake)
- Holds form when removed from ramekin (looks matter)
- Oozes out when cut into (otherwise it’s just not “lava cake”)
- No cheating (some people take the easy way out by slipping a square of chocolate into the middle of the batter, or adding some kind of gooey filling at the end; no dice)
We could probably subtitle this post “The Birth of a Recipe”, because I plan on taking you through a little tour of how the recipe came about, and the trials and tribulations of each iterative step (but don’t worry, there are pictures!). Before that, though, I’ll give you the final, good-copy recipe. I think the best way to enjoy this blog post would be to read the recipe, find the ingredients, make a few portions, and then enjoy the rest of the journey with lava cake in hand (and mouth!).
|The liquidy center spills out of the cake when you cut into it. Beautiful!|
Vegan Lava Cake
for one 8 oz ramekin cake (two servings)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegan margarine (DO NOT use Earth Balance, use a “regular” vegan margarine like Becel)
80 grams (3 oz) dark chocolate
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons blended firm Silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grand Marnier Glaze:
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 small square dark chocolate (about 10 grams)
1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Melt margarine in a small pot over medium heat. Without letting the margarine get too hot, add the dark chocolate and stir until melted.
3. Combine the sugar, flour and cornstarch in a mixing bowl and set aside.
4. Stir the milk, blended tofu, and vanilla in with the melted chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until well combined. You could use an electric mixer here if desired. Make sure to mix very well – vigorously whisking it with a fork works well.
5. Pour cake batter into the greased ramekin and place in the oven. Bake for 14 minutes. The cake should be soft and slightly “jello-y” (the goal here is to have a cake that is raw and pudding-like in the center), but it should definitely look like a chocolate cake. Remove from oven and allow to sit in the ramekin for two minutes to set.
6. While cake is baking, prepare the glaze. Heat the Grand Marnier in a small pot for a minute before adding the square of dark chocolate. Melt the chocolate, remove from heat and stir in the confectioner’s sugar.
7. Carefully run a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin to loosen the cake. Cover ramekin with a small plate and invert quickly. Remove the ramekin and top with Grand Marnier glaze and ice cream!
Note: The cake batter can be made and refrigerated for up to a day in advance. Simply make as much batter as desired, pour into greased ramekins, and cover/refrigerate. Remove them from the refrigerator just before baking, and add one minute to the cooking time.
And there you have it! At long last, the perfect recipe for vegan lava cakes. These are the kind of lava cakes I always loved. I know some people consider regular cake batter with boiling water poured over top “lava cakes”, but they are most certainly not this awesome. Nothing beats a delicious, moist cake with an ooey gooey molten center.
|Nothing wrong with a little messy melty-ness!|
Now that you have seen the final, successful recipe, allow me to take you on a journey down memory lane while we examine how this delectable desert came to be. I had been wanting to make a vegan lava cake for a little while, and I decided Valentine’s day would be the perfect time to do it. Keeping my checklist firmly in my mind, I began the experiments.
Trial 1: With my checklist in tow I figured the best place to start would be to take a recipe from the internet and make it, seeing how much of my checklist I could achieve with someone else’ recipe. I ruled out a few recipes right away for either being to complex (one recipe involved minute amounts of three different kinds of flour, three different egg replacers, a few seeds, and some fruit), using the so-called “science ingredients” (agar, xanthan gum, sodium-whatever-ate), or cheating. Eventually I found one that stood out above the others.
|A sea of scalding oil over top a bed of of rock candy|
It did not turn out well. This was a recipe taken directly from someone’s website, followed exactly, and it created the horrendous monstrosity you see above. It certainly had a molten center, but the edges were equally lava-like. The thing failed at even the most basics of being a cake. To top it all off, it took a full two days of alternating soak/scrub cycles to get that ramekin clean. Whatever wasn’t molten and scalding was crystallized and rock-like. Moving on.
Trial 2: For my next trial, I decided to go off-book a little bit. I increased the amount of flour and cornstarch by small amount, and decreased the amount of margarine. At this point I was still using Earth Balance. I also kicked up the amount of chocolate a little bit. The results from this further experiment were… disappointing, but infinitely better than the pure trash that came from the first trial. I was able to plate the cake, but it definitely did not hold up to the checklist.
|Oozes out all over the darn plate? Check. Holds together when removed? Not so much.|
Trial 3: My next attempt contained the first of two major breakthroughs. I was running out of Earth Balance, so I switched to using a “standard” vegan margarine (the vegan versions of standard supermarket brands like Becel and Smart Balance). To help stop the crystallizing problem I was having I also cut down the amount of confectioner’s sugar and lowered the baking temperature a bit, increasing the time to ensure at least a little bit of done-ness.
|At least this one looks like a cake.|
Certainly the most successful looking attempt so far! It held together, just like magic, but without any major changes. Then it hit me: it must be the margarine. Allysia has since told me that brands like Earth Balance tend to lack emulsifiers, which can sometimes lead to oily separation during baking. I just call it magic and witchcraft. Unfortunately my journey does not end here: the product is too much cake and not enough lava.
Trial 4: A second breakthrough. Up until this point I had been using semi-sweet chocolate chips, as that was what was called for in most of the recipes I looked at, but how would dark chocolate affect the cake? I guessed that the lower sugar content would be a big help in fixing that stubborn crystallization issue. After baking a and plating I had the best desert yet. The outside was moist and delicious, rather than slightly crunchy with hardened sugar. Now I just had to fix the inside.
|Looking better and better…|
Trials 5 and 6: It’s now down to fine touches and small adjustments. First change: increase the cooking temperature back to the original and drop the cooking time. Cook the outside before the inside can heat up too much. Results? Definitely not cooked in the middle, but not quite oozing out on it’s own. The second try leads to similar results. It is clear that cooking time alone is not going to solve this problem.
|Smooth in the middle, and slightly jello-y!|
Trial 7: I experience a zen moment. My mind flashes back to my days of making non-vegan lava cakes. I remember the batter being less viscous. I know what I need to do. Chop the amount of cornstarch in half, add some milk to thin the desert out and… voila!
|Finally, a cake that exceeds expectations!|
A vegan cake that fulfills every criteria on my checklist. Fairly simple ingredient list, a nice shape, and the filling even oozes out on its own. It has been a long, arduous journey, but eating this trial was worth every minute of baking and waiting and thinking and scrubbing.
If you’ve stuck with me through all that text then I know what you should do: Find these ingredients, and make yourself a lava cake. You’ve earned it!