Vegan Chocolate Strawberry Surprise Cake

I absolutely love to bake for other people! I think that homemade items are the best gifts. I often get the chance to bake for people who have special diets like diabetics or preferences like vegans. It is so nice to design a recipe for someone who desires or requires certain dietary considerations a) because it’s a little more challenging and b) because I get to learn about different baking styles.

For this recipe, I wanted to create a recipe utilizing Cece’s Veggie Noodle Company’s Organic Zucchini Spirals. I also wanted to make a recipe that was vegan. I didn’t want to use the spirals in a pasta-like dish. It was important to me to take it to the next level and do something unexpected but very tasty.

I have had zucchini bread in the past and I remember it was delicious and very moist. It was important to challenge myself and try a cake, not just any cake but a chocolate one with all the bells and whistles including ganache.

Strawberries and chocolate are always a winning combination and I had just canned some homemade strawberry jam. I decided to use the jam as my filling. You can use store bought. That will be tasty too. I also wanted to use another fresh element besides the zucchini so I opted for fresh strawberries on the top. They add color as well as visual interest.

This cake has chocolate ganache as well as chocolate frosting. I like the two finishes on the cake; one is shiny and spreads easily whereas the other one has more of a matte finish and can be easily piped into a shape.

To make this cake vegan, there are many substitutions but the one that I think is the most interesting is the substitution for eggs. Eggs add moisture and leavening to a recipe. The zucchini replaces the moisture and the chemical reaction between the baking soda and the apple cider vinegar helps to leaven the cake. Science is great!

The surprise in this cake is the zucchini. The noodles came in thin spirals that were easily sliced into small pieces and utilized in this recipe. Just like zucchini bread, this cake was super moist and full of chocolate goodness. Give it a try! You wouldn’t even guess that it’s vegan!

Ingredients:

Cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sweetened vanilla almond milk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped Cece’s Veggie Noodle Company’s Organic Zucchini Spirals

Filling:

1 cup strawberry jam

Ganache:

2 cups vegan chocolate chunks (I used Enjoy Life Mega Chunks)

1/2 cup vanilla sweetened almond milk

Frosting:

1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon vanilla sweetened almond milk

Garnishes:

9 fresh strawberries

Vegan chocolate shavings (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Coat two 8 inch round cake pan with non-stick baking spray. I recommend also added a parchment paper circle to the bottom for easy cake removal.

3. For cake batter: in a stand mixer, mix flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. Slowly while mixing, add in milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.

5. Stir in zucchini. Divide and pour batter into two 8 inch round cake pans that have been sprayed with non-stick baking spray and have a circular piece of parchment paper in the bottom.

6. Bake for 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then invert onto a cake rack. Remove parchment paper.

7. Place one layer of cake on a cake plate. Top with strawberry jam. Add second layer of cake.

8. To make ganache: in a microwave safe medium bowl, add vegan chocolate and milk. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and stir. Continue heating (30 seconds at a time) and stirring until ganache forms. It should be fairly thick, smooth, and dark in color.

9. Spread ganache on top of cake.

10. For frosting: in a stand mixer, combine vegan butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and almond milk. Mix until smooth.

11. With a cake decorating bag and tip, add 8 rosettes of frosting around the perimeter of the top of the cake and one in the middle. Add a strawberry in the middle of each rosette.

12. Add vegan chocolate shavings around the center strawberry (optional).

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