July 1969 and a cast of odd-person-out, young characters converge on an urban park. It could be Central Park in New York City. It is in decay. Cities are broke. Woodstock is a few weeks away. A trio of young characters - out of sorts with the world - help themselves in unexpected ways. And when Apollo 11 lands on the moon, suddenly all things are possible.
It's the setting of the play Under a Midsummer Moon. The end of the play is set in stone. Scene 1 has been deleted four times. I've been listening to the original Broadway cast of Hair non-stop. And still know most of the lyrics. (And I remember turning the record player volume to low so my parents wouldn't hear the lyrics. - So wicked.) I usually don't write with the last scene written first. But the muse seems to have dictated this and so I leave my comfort zone.
I usually don't make vegan cakes (let's see - it's not Italian, I don't bake a lot and vegan eating is a new horizon for me), but allergies begged for this and so I did (with a lot of help from Bon Appetit.) In the midst of my"mindfully eating year," I discovered I could have my cake and eat it, too - as could my very young nephew and niece who cannot have dairy or eggs. And who can resist a chocolate cake in the midst of the winter-that-does-not-end. Chocolate for solace and orange for brightness and light. (I know, I stretched it a bit tying in the moon play with vegan chocolate cake - are you smiling?)
Vegan Chocolate Cake with Orange Frosting from Bon Appetit
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour* (I used whole wheat regular flour with good results)
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) vegan "butter" (such as Earth Balance) or margarine, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Large pinch of salt
1/4 cup light agave nectar (I used regular agave syrup)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Sift all purpose flour, sugar, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add 3/4 cup water, oil, juice concentrate, vanilla, and vinegar and whisk to blend. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack. Carefully cut around pan sides and turn out cake onto serving platter.
Place chopped bittersweet chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Carefully transfer bowl to work surface. Cool melted chocolate to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.
Using electric mixer, beat "butter" in large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon juice concentrate, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons juice concentrate; beat until blended. Beat in agave nectar, then chocolate. Let stand 10 minutes. Frost top and sides of cake.
DO AHEAD Cake can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.
It's a very good chocolate cake - did it "make me see happy stars?" No - but that's usually reserved for cannoli. And the orange-chocolate ganache is worth the bake.
(Bear with me: publishers like authors to do PR and I remain very grateful to all my publishers - they are why I can finally stay home and write!)
Although I have complained bitterly about January, the truth is, it has been very good to me. The Fisherman and His Wife was published by Playscripts.
My very beloved Hanging of the Greens (the cast remains close two years later) will be published by YouthPLAYS. (All photos below from Joan Elwell, Lakeshore Players.)
And In the Village of the Brothers Grimm was recently published by YouthPLAYS.
Meanwhile an update on Harold (who Mister Meatball says is 238 years old in computer years): We were limping along. He was wiped clean (sorry, Harold) but keeps coughing up Microsoft Word which is not good. As most theatres and publishers only accept Word. No Mac - yet. No impulsive decisions. Until the laptop crashes. And yes, of course I have a strong anti-virus program. But it's like the flu shot. My husband got a flu shot. My husband got the flu. I didn't get a flu shot. I didn't get the flu (yet.)
The endless winter has contrived to keep me inside. The outside does not beckon. But I have figured out exercise even when housebound so that has been a positive. And when January left, so did five more pounds. I am one pound away from having lost 10% of my body weight. And do you know what I do? I go to the grocers and look at all of these 1 pound-butter cartons and imagine them back on my body and my resolve gets stronger. 2011 is shaping up to be a delicious year. When you can have chocolate cake and still lose weight, you know the heavens are smiling. I won't even complain about the snow. Well, maybe in April....