This is my first Mother’s Day since my mother, Shirley Bernstein passed last fall. My Mom was outspoken to say the least, kind of feisty in her choice of words at unexpected times, a totally dedicated grandmother and great-grandmother, and a woman who did not like to cook. The kitchen, she told me while I was attending New York Restaurant School, was a lonely place for her. I wonder about that and wish I could’ve gotten her to more clearly express what she was feeling. What I do know is that TV dinners and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese were treats for my sister and I. Our vegetables were canned and frozen, and as I remember it, peas, carrots, creamed corn and spinach, unless you count tater tots and ketchup. The freezer always held a half gallon of some store brand of ice cream, and cheese was muenster and the orange single kind, each slice wrapped in it’s own plastic covering. That sounds icky but we didn’t know better, and Shirley told me she thought this was modern. What Shirl did beautifully though was build salads of lettuce (albeit iceberg) and tomato (unless it was summer, these were pale and in a long box), and cucumbers. Fresh fruit in summer was always available. I write this not to disrespect my mother but to introduce her. When I began dating my future husband, my mother said, “Learn from this boy’s mother, Wini. She is a cook and baker.”
Wini was that and much more. She went to college at 16 years old and had the times been different, she’d have been a CPA or MD. I tasted my first butternut squash at Wini’s table and learned that desserts could be fancy, even if not completely homemade. One of her signature desserts was a store bought angel food cake with a center of homemade chocolate whipped cream. Wini would make a tunnel in the center of the cake and fill it with homemade chocolate whipped cream. Her Boston Brown Bread and blueberry muffins were incredible, and her brownies were legendary. My daughter, now a mother of two young boys found a stack of Wini’s handwritten recipe cards and gave some to me.
I tried Wini’s accidently vegan Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake a couple of years ago with a vegan mayo and thought it had an off taste. When I tasted Just Mayo by Hampton Creek, and found that it tasted ‘just like the mayo’ I remembered, I decided to give the cake a go again. This time there was no off taste. It’s not as deeply chocolate or moist as the Chocolate Torte to Live For but it was a good cake.
Wini listed cocoa powder. She did not specify alkalized (Dutch-process) or non-alkalized, (natural). Because the leavening was only baking soda, I knew the cocoa was non-alkalized. (This won’t surprise anyone who has read the introductory chapter in Vegan Chocolate or has taken any of my classes.)
I changed Wini’s original recipe just a little: using cool coffee, (decaf actually) in place of the water and used some whole wheat pastry flour. Organic, fair-trade vegan sugar replaced the white sugar. I added a little more baking soda plus a new ingredient, apple cider vinegar, for tenderness and lift. If you’ve ever taken a class with me, you know that when am testing, I cut the recipe at least in half. Here I made a single layer instead of Wini’s two layer cake (“spread whipped cream in the center and on top.”) If you like the recipe and want a layer cake, just double it.
Because I was just testing, I spread the top of the cake with So Delicious Coco Whip but I’ll make it again with Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream from Vegan Chocolate. Use one or the other or both!
So with respect and love to our mother’s, I present Winifred Naomie Goldberg Costigan’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, a vegan chocolate cake, as a single layer torte
Mother’s Day Chocolate Cake
I found that I preferred the taste and texture of the cake after it had been chilled. Let me know what you think. Full disclosure. I did not beat the batter 100 strokes per Wini’s directions.
Yield: One 8-inch cake/ 1inch high / 1 3/4 cup batter, thick but pourable
- 1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons non-alkalized cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup vegan may (I used “Just Mayo”
- 1/2 cup room temperature decaf or regular coffee, or use room temperature water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Baking time: 22 to 24 minutes
- Position a rack in the center of the oven. Oil an 8-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper.
- Sift both of the flours, the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt through a strainer into a medium bowl.
- Whisk until thoroughly combined, the Just Mayo, coffee vanilla and vinegar in a separate bowl and pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk until you have a thick batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 23 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the center is clean.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely.
- Refrigerate before icing.
Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream (from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan)
Makes About 2 Cups / 480 Ml
- 1 can (13.5 to 14 ounces / 400 to 414 ml) unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (do not use light), refrigerated unopened, upright for at least 24 hours (2 days is better)
- 2 ounces / 57 grams unsweetened chocolate (99%), or substitute 75 to 85%, finely chopped
- 2 cups / 216 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted twice if organic, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon guar gum, divided
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pure vanilla extract
- Refrigerate the electric mixer bowl, or a metal bowl large enough to whip the cream, and the whisk beater.
- Open the can of coconut milk directly from the refrigerator. With a spoon, scoop out only the solid part of the coconut milk (the cream) and place it in a the chilled bowl. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the thinner liquid coconut milk that remains in the can. (Refrigerate the rest for using as a liquid in desserts and smoothies.) Refrigerate the cream in the bowl while you melt the chocolate in the reserved milk.
- Combine the reserved liquid coconut milk and chocolate in a small saucepan. Warm over the lowest heat until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir until the chocolate is melted. Set the saucepan in a larger saucepan of very hot water to keep the melted chocolate from solidifying.
- Remove the bowl of coconut cream from the refrigerator. Add 1 cup of the sifted confectioners’ sugar and 1/8 teaspoon guar gum to the cream. Whip the
- cream on low speed for 1 minute using the chilled whisk attachment of your mixer. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute. Turn off the mixer and clean the sides of bowl.
- Add another 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of guar gum to the cream, and beat for 1 minute, starting on low and increasing the speed to high. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and beat for another minute, starting on low and increasing the speed to high. The cream will be thickened.
- When the melted chocolate is no longer warm, fold it gently into the whipped cream with a silicone spatula.
- Refrigerate the cream in a covered container until set, about 4 hours or overnight. If the cream is too firm, stir vigorously or add a little of the extra liquid coconut milk.
The whipped cream can be made three days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.
Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013).
How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? Do you have a favorite tradition or recipe from mom?