Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

This weekend Bostonians felt the warmth of the sun on our skin for the first time since…September? Words cannot even begin to describe how needed and uplifting this was for all of us who have been buried beneath epic amounts of snow and layers upon layers that never quite kept us warm enough. Aaron and I celebrated with a trip to our old neighborhood rose garden park, bustling with happy people picnicking and little kids zooming around surprisingly fast on tiny bikes and scooters. I forgot sunglasses and the brightness was a bit too much for my sun-deprived eyes, so I closed them and was able to feel the warmth and hear the little ones racing by even more intensely. I realized I need to sit outside and close my eyes more often.

That park is my happy place. Aaron said for me it’s like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, which I admittedly had to look up because I wasn’t sure what he meant. He’s right though. It’s calming and centering, and the perfect amount of cheerful background noise to crowd out the not-so-helpful inner voices, but quiet enough to hear those voices that are much wiser and not so caught up in the details. The rose garden park is where I go to envision the bigger picture stuff.

There is a lot of noise in our day-to-day if we let it in, and one area that’s felt too noisy to me in recent months is this blog space. I redesigned Pickles & Honey around October of last year and in an effort to monetize, I added new display ads. This is an honest post, so here’s the truth: this always felt like a compromise to me. But my traffic had grown and I wanted to start contributing more financially, so I cringed a tiny bit and I added them anyway, thinking the money would make it worthwhile. The reality is that the money rarely makes a feeling of compromise worthwhile. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with display ads, because there isn’t, and it’s all about doing what feels personally authentic. I know I may even find that I’ve changed my mind again in a few months, but for right now and the foreseeable future, I’m removing those ads from this space.

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

When you visit P&H, we want it to be about the recipes, the writing, and the photography. The timing of this recommitment to content is not great for taking on a redesign because we’re leaving in a month for our extended road trip, but it is rather perfect for stripping away the clutter. I have a good feeling that doing so will not only allow our content to take center stage, but it should also give us the needed space to take in what’s sure to be a transformational year and see where we land. I don’t know how we’ll monetize (maybe we won’t), but this next year is one we’re dedicating to living as authentically and constraint-free as possible. It’s all about the once-in-a-lifetime things and exploring to see whether we can’t make the rest of our years the same.

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

This brooklyn blackout cake is the richest, most decadent vegan chocolate cake I’ve ever made. I looked to the tradition recipe—a two-layer chocolate cake with a chocolate pudding filling—then took it up a few notches, doubling the layers and creating a filling and frosting that’s somewhere between luscious pudding and ganache. It’s four layers of intense dark chocolate with a generous coating of chopped almonds for texture and flavor. The filling stays pudding-like in the center but turns to fudge on the exposed top and sides. Think true blackout cake meets Cheesecake Factory meets vegan. No compromises.

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Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Vegan,

Serves: one 8-inch 4-layer chocolate cake


Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Cook Time: 35 mins

The richest, most decadent vegan chocolate cake you may ever make. Four layers of intense dark chocolate with a generous coating of chopped almonds.

Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake | picklesnhoney.com

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

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Ingredients

For the chocolate cakes:

  • 1 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 2/3 cups organic soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil, plus additional for greasing the pans
  • 1½ cups coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

For the chocolate ganache frosting:

  • 3/4 cup organic soy milk
  • 11 ounces (310 grams) vegan dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil (solid or melted is fine)
  • scant 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 cups vegan powdered sugar, sifted

For decorating:

  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Cuisine: Vegan Servings: one 8-inch 4-layer chocolate cake

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins Cook Time: 35 mins

The richest, most decadent vegan chocolate cake you may ever make. Four layers of intense dark chocolate with a generous coating of chopped almonds.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8-inch cake pans and set them aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the non-dairy yogurt, non-dairy milk, applesauce, coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Slowly stir in the flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix until just combined (be careful not to over-mix). It should be on the thicker side.
  • Using a spatula, divide the batter between the two cake pans, smooth out the tops, and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven to cool completely.
  • Once cool, gently remove the cakes from the pans, wrap each in plastic, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (it's much easier to frost cold cake).
  • While the cakes cool, make the ganache frosting. Add the soy milk to a medium saucepan and warm it over low-medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and add in the chopped dark chocolate and coconut oil. Stir continuously until melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt, then transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to thicken (it's okay if a little oil separates). Once cooled, turn the mixer to low speed and add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it's incorporated. Beat on high speed for 3-5 minutes. The consistency should be similar to a thick chocolate pudding.
  • When the cakes are cold, use a long serrated bread knife to slice each layer in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place the first cake layer on a cake plate or serving dish and spread a layer of ganache frosting (about 2/3 to 3/4 cup) on top, then place a second cake layer on top. Spread another layer of frosting on top. Repeat until all 4 layers are frosted, then frost the sides of the cake. Don't worry about the frosting being a little on the looser side at this point--it will set shortly after to form a thicker fudge. Use your hands to coat the sides of the cake with the chopped almonds.
  • Allow the frosting to set for 5-10 minutes, then slice and enjoy!

Notes [1]

The consistency of the yogurt you use will impact the thickness of the batter. I like to use a thinner coconut milk yogurt for this recipe. If you find that the batter is too thick, you can mix in about 2 tablespoons or so more of non-dairy milk to thin it. This is a forgiving recipe and it stands up well to slight modifications.

Copyright © 2019 Amanda Maguire for Pickles & Honey

Leave a Comment

  1. I just want to dive right into this cake, it looks so rich and chocolatey!! Seriously amazing and the photos are so stunning.

    1. Amanda says

      Thank you, Leah! I even considered putting chocolate chips in the cake for ALL THE CHOCOLATE. Maybe next time. 😉

  2. Nicole says

    I’ve been thinking about getting rid of (at least some) of my ads for a while now. I need to get rid of the clutter! And considering how much the ad industry (and payout) has changed, it’s almost not even worth having them. Congrats on making the move!

    The photos of this cake are amazing.

    1. Amanda says

      The payout for display ads is so disappointing, and they’re also getting more and more intrusive. But it’s also hard to give up the income because that’s really hard to come by too. I will say though that it feels pretty damn liberating to start clearing the clutter!

      Thank you for the compliments on the photos. Aaron will be so happy to hear you like them!

  3. Can’t handle it….so perfect. I need this cake now!!!

    1. Amanda says

      Oh you definitely need this cake! I wish we all lived closer together so I could share it!

      1. 😉 with that cake…it may be worth the move!

  4. Heather says

    I’ve often thought about un-monetizing my blog. I rarely write anymore, but for some reason the ads made it feel like a chore. Maybe it’s part of the reason I stepped away. They are still up for now, and I often earn enough in a year for my hosting costs, but it’s not really worth it. I can afford my hosting costs without it, so why continue? Getting rid of them might make my blog feel like mine again, and maybe I’d be more likely to write again. Food for thought.

    1. Amanda says

      Definite food for thought, and there’s no right or wrong answer. I think it’s all about what feels authentic to you in the moment. Display ads are great because they’re passive income and depending on your situation, every little bit counts, but if they take some of the joy out of blogging (or create a crappy reader experience) then it’s time to reconsider.

  5. Ah-mazing, as usual. I’m excited to see what you get up to on your road trip adventure!

  6. Shana says

    I admire you for minimizing the ads. I get that they are a necessary evil sometimes and are no different than television or radio commercials, but you’re right, they can be so disruptive to the reading experience! For what it’s worth though, I would take a display ad over a sponsored post any day of the week. Sponsored posts feel forced and fake and I feel like I got cheated out of a real post. I don’t read a lot of blogs these days but love the content (ad or no ad) on yours!

    1. Amanda says

      Bloggers are in a tricky place with the display ads/sponsored posts and I like the comparison you made to TV/radio ads. Both types of ads can be disruptive or not-so-disruptive depending on how they’re used (and how many there are). I do think a sponsored post can be done well when it’s a product the blogger truly likes and uses and then it blends in much more seamlessly with the content (for example, a flour company sponsoring a cake recipe). It’s still an ad for sure, but to me that feels more authentic. I find it gets forced when that flour company/brand requires the blogger to mention x, y, z talking points, link 4 times, send out 5 facebook mentions, etc etc. That’s obnoxious.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shana–it’s a discussion worth having!

  7. Jennifer says

    I am glad to hear that you a taking down your ads. Although I am all for people making money from their blogs, and I am not against having ads themselves, but man do they make my computer slow. I have an older computer and due to financial reasons, my husband and I plan on waiting to replace our current one. And even still we probably plan on keeping this computer, as a possible “work” computer of sorts. I really don’t mind ads, but the ones that most people use for foods blogs (ones that use flash) really wears my computer down to a point where sometimes I just click out of the post before I get to read it out of frustration.

    1. Amanda says

      Ugh, they make everyone’s computer slow! That aspect is really frustrating. And then there’s the inevitable trying to scroll but not being able to, followed by the page jumping around when it finally loads. Terrible!

  8. Oh Amanda. I love reading your words. They resonate with me so much! Excited for you to make this space not feel like a compromise. And to get some serious solitude in the coming months. So super stoked for your two that you got your space rented (congrats!), you both definitely deserve a few slices of this cake 😉

    1. Amanda says

      We’re so happy to have found someone to rent our place, and without paying a real estate agent (yes!). One day I’d love to do a custom blog redesign, but for now I’m still very much looking forward to decluttering and quality over quantity. Your blog is very much an inspiration in this regard. <3

      1. That must feel so great! Ah congrats to you guys. And I hear you, a custom design would be so nice! Totally made me blush with your last line. You are way too sweet.

  9. What a gorgeous looking cake! If I could choose my last meal, I think it would be chocolate cake. And good luck with the de-cluttering process – I am sure it will be very well received!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Marie! Chocolate cake would be at the top of the list for me too.

  10. Sean says

    This just takes the cake!!!! Cannot wait to try it! And I love this font I’m typing too! Love the details!
    I’m really becoming fascinated with active yeast doughs. Is there a way to make a cake with active yeast?

    1. Amanda says

      Thank you! I agree. There’s something very rewarding about yeast doughs. I recently posted vegan cinnamon rolls (and sticky buns!) that are so satisfying to make. I haven’t made a yeast cake yet, but I’m sure there are lots of recipes out there!

  11. What a beautiful and delicious looking cake! Totally making this for my next birthday :). Thanks, too, for sharing your thoughts an experiences around monetizing your blog. I have been blogging for nearly 5 years and have spent more time than I care to admit pondering whether (and how) to monetize mine. So many opportunities and pros/cons…leaves me completely overwhelmed. I feel like there’s a better way…just not sure what that is. Anyway, your blog is lovely….best of luck to you as you explore what’s right for you 🙂

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Nancy! I can relate to feeling overwhelmed at times regarding monetization. I don’t think there’s a right/wrong way, more that it’s whatever way feels good to you. I will say though that display advertising revenue is shrinking big time, and the ads that pay the most are getting to be obnoxious (in my opinion, at least). I feel like there’s gotta be a better way too. 🙂

  12. anya clark says

    How many people does this cake serve? Also just because its vegan is it healthy?

    1. Amanda says

      It makes an 8-inch cake with 4 layers (two cakes sliced into two). I’d say you could easily get at least 16 slices. As far as being healthy, it’s healthier than most (using whole food ingredients and non-dairy yogurt/applesauce to lighten it a bit), but cake is cake vegan or not. 🙂

  13. Melissa says

    I had great success with one of your other cake recipes that I used for a friend’s birthday party, so I’m pretty confident that this one could only be even more amazing. I have another friend’s birthday coming up, so I’d love to make this, but my friend is gluten-free. Do you think it would work to use the Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose GF flour for this? Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Amanda says

      Hi Melissa! I’m so glad you had success with another one of my cake recipes! I haven’t tested this one with a gluten-free flour blend, so it may take some trial and error to get the right texture/crumb. If you’d like to give it a shot, I’d replace the flour with an equal amount of the Bob’s Red Mill blend and add xanthan gum (1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour is usually what works well for cakes). Hold off on making the chocolate ganache until you know the cake works. 😉

  14. Til says

    Hi! I was just wondering if using gluten free flour would work? I’m gluten intolerant but this cake looks so damn good!

    1. Hi Til! I haven’t tried making this cake with gluten-free flour, but if you have a favorite blend, I think it’s worth a try. 🙂

  15. Amanda with a ponytail says

    Hey guys, I made this cake and I followed the recipe word for word. Are you sure you meant 3 cups of sugar in the ganache? That’s like 600 grams dude.

    btw i have T2D

    1. Yes, that’s correct–there are 3 cups of powdered sugar in the ganache (very safe to say this one is not a low sugar dessert 🙂 ). It’s a 4-layer cake with ganache between each layer, in addition to frosting the top and sides. It makes at least 16 slices the handful of times I’ve made it, so definitely a cake for a crowd!

      1. Amanda with a ponytail says

        Thank you so much for responding though, the cake turned out to be a great success and everybody on our side of the flat ABSOLUTELY LOVED it!

      2. That’s so awesome to hear! Thank you for taking the time to let me know how the cake turned out!

  16. Morgan says

    Hi do you think I could substitute the non dairy yogurt for something? It’s very hard to come by where I live.

    1. Hi Morgan! I haven’t tested this recipe with anything other than non-dairy yogurt so I can’t say for sure, but you might have success replacing it with applesauce or pureed silken tofu (make sure to blend it until smooth). Mashed banana sometimes works, but that would obviously change the flavor.

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