It's time for a Little Debbie smackdown! Or would that be snackdown? The Kid's class is having a Valentine's Day party tomorrow, and each of the non-allergic kids will receive a "Be My Valentine" Cake to sugar them up. Since I was forewarned by his teacher, my son will be forearmed with a homemade (and far superior) version of the heart shaped Twinkie.
There are three elements to this decadent treat. The first is the chocolate "cake" itself. It wasn't until I pulled my second and final version of it out of the oven that I realized in my attempt to make a cake dense enough to be sturdy, I'd created a brownie instead. (You don't mind, do you?)
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C soy yogurt (vanilla or plain)
1/2 C canola oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C boiling water
grease (margarine or shortening) for the pan
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13"x 9"x 2" pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper with dairy free margarine or shortening. (Some of the traditional baking techniques, like buttering parchment paper, don't come naturally to me, but this time it's necessary to get the cake out of the pan so you can attack it with your heart shaped cookie cutter.)
Sift dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then stir in wet ingredients except boiling water. Mix slowly until just combined. The batter will be very stiff at this point. Slowly pour boiling water into batter while mixing. Continue to mix until batter is shiny and completely integrated.
Gently pour batter into parchment lined pan and spread out evenly, if necessary. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before using parchment paper to very carefully lift onto a cutting board.
Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, strategically cut the cake into as many hearts as possible. With a 3" wide cookie cutter, I made 12 hearts. Set them aside while making the filling.
Vanilla Cream Filling:
3 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 Tbs soymilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using a paddle beater, mix until smooth. Now, with a good bread knife and a steady hand, very slowly and carefully cut one of the hearts into half. (Blood does not enhance the flavor, so please avoid the classic bagel slice to the palm.) Gently put down the top half, then spread about a tablespoon of the filling over the bottom. If you have hearts that are taller on one end, this is your opportunity to even things out. Replace the top half of the heart, set aside, and repeat until all have been filled.
Chocolate Ganache Coating:
1 C Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
3/4 C coconut milk
Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside. Bring coconut milk just to a boil, then stir into chips. Stir until completely integrated.
You have two routes you can take to cover the cakes with the ganache. The easier and messier method is to pour half of the ganache into a measuring cup. Pick up a heart, dip the sides into the bowl, so they are completely coated. Place the heart on a cooling rack sitting atop a cookie sheet, cutting board, or other drip catcher. With your other hand, slowly pour ganache from the measuring cup onto the top until it meets the coating on the sides. Repeat.
The slower and neater method is to wait until the ganache cools somewhat, then pick up a cake, frost the sides with a spatula, place the cake on the cooling rack (you'll still need a drip catcher), and frost the top, again with the spatula.
With both methods, allow the coating to cool until the ganache is firm. You can speed up the process by putting them in the fridge, but they may still take overnight.
Once finished, the cakes tasted absolutely amazing, rich and chocolaty, but not too sweet. They were time consuming, but really not that difficult to make. In the final analysis, though, I failed to achieve parity with the original snack cake. The cake layers weren't dry and crumbly enough, the cream filling tasted like vanilla instead of Crisco, and I simply could not replicate Little Debbie's waxy coating, forcing me to make do with the ganache. On the bright side, I'm well on my way to finishing the brownie recipe that's long been on my to do list.
That's about all for...wait, what's that banner I see in the sky?
Holy fortuitous food blog event, Batman! February's Sugar High Friday theme is copycat recipes! Originally created by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess, the long running event is being hosted this month by Marija of Palachinka, so I'm happily sending my Valentine hearts to her.