Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Moonstruck Chocolate

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....


chow and chatter said...

looks great for a vegan cake congrats on the plays :0)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Congratulations of having those plays published, Claudia, and the consistent weight loss. Hurrah!

I feel bad for your nephew being allergic to dairy and eggs, but if a wonderful chocolate cake like the one you made is able to be consumed on a vegan diet, then it's not too bad!

I also love the combination of dark chocolate and orange, so that ganache looks so delicious!

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

You are the most talented blogger I know. Your smart, you can write things that are beyond my wildest dreams, your can cook, your down to earth and loving, what more could anyone say about how much you deserve all good things, always and forever, congrats well deserved and the cake is just perfect with the freshness of orange to make a perfect combination of wonderful flavor, BRAVO!

Claudia said...

Claudia - I'm blushing! I followed a recipe!

Reeni said...

Chocolate and orange is a delectable combo for a cake Claudia! Congratulations on your weight loss - so happy for you - and for your plays! Sorry about your computer issues!

Juliana said...

The cake looks delicious, great combination orange and chocolate, congratulations on your play...awesome :-)

veggietestkitchen said...

wow, i had no idea that bon appetit had a vegan chocolate cake recipe! both your neice and nephew are allergic to dairy, or just eggs? you can make wonderful cakes without eggs. for vegan cakes, you can also use apple sauce. i've used orange juice with limited success. i really like my cakes moist.

i'm hosting a vegan product giveaway on my blog. check it out if you have any interest.

Velva said...

I am smiling! I am smiling that your cake looks really good, you have lost almost 10% of your body weight, January has been good to you, your play was purchased, and you still find time in this wicked cold to still exercise indoors.

2011 is going to be a great year for you.


Angela said...

Great looking cake. It looks like you have been working hard in the kitchen and at the keyboard.

OysterCulture said...

The vegan cake looks delicious. I had a beet chocolate cake recently that really took me by surprise at how luscious it was. Yours looks amazing as well.

Congratulations on all the wonderful recognition. How exciting.

Brooks at Cakewalker said...

Terrific job on this cake and I enjoyed reading about the thespian side of you. Brava on the publishing of your works... I can't help but get the feeling we're going to be hearing a lot about you!

Jeannie said...

Congrats on your work and also losing consistent weight despite the festive season! I wish I have your will power! That chocolate cake looks really good despite it being vegan..:)

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Congratulations on the play Claudia. I'm thinking about you up there in the frozen north this morning with that storm. I'm watching it on TV and worried that you're cold and your power might be off. If so, please eat this entire cake.

By the way, I would love to eat chocolate and lose weight. Sounds good.

FOODESSA said...

Claudia...today, you've shared two major parts of your life...one of which we always enjoy from your kitchen...and now we can applaud you on such a great accomplishment out of the kitchen. LOL
Congrats my friend...you make us proud ;o)

Flavourful wishes,

Anne said...

Not much of a baker, but that cake does look good. Congratulations are in order for you! Bravo! You must be so happy!
Hope you are keeping warm with all that cold and snow!
Take care.

Torviewtoronto said...

lovely picture this looks good

That Girl said...

When I was in high school I spent so much time listening to the Hair soundtrack that I almost turned in a test blank because I couldn't concentrate on taking it. I just kept focusing on the lyrics over and over and over again.

Jill Colonna said...

Well done on the play, the weight and that cake; hard to believe it's vegan! Congrats to you.

Emily Malloy said...

This cake looks divine!

And I love the photos of the play!!

art is in the kitchen said...

I am moonstruck by your vegan cake and the play!!! Congratulations!!! Bravissima!!!

Barbara GF said...

I am smiling, Claudia. That cake looks too good to be vegan. And you know I love the chocolate-orange combination. :-)
A hearty congratulations on having your plays published! A reason to celebrate, for sure.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Claudia, congratulations on the publication of your play. My thanks for the publication of your cake. It really sounds delicious and will be moving from your kitchen to mine :-). Stay warm and dry. Blessings...Mary

Beth said...

Congratulations on the good run you're having. That's spectacular!
Oh, and I have Word on my Mac. It's completely compatible with my writing friends'/publishers' pcs. And I'm very fond of my mac!

Anonymous said...

The cake looks excellent, love the combination of chocolate and orange! Congrats on your plays being published!

Magic of Spice said...

Poor Harold :( But congratulations to you on your wonderful successes in this still New Year!
The cake looks and sounds delicious, always a wonderful combination of flavors :)


I don't usually do vegan either, but it sounds fantastic!

Anna Johnston said...

I'm super impressed at your chocolate orange cake, stunning. Congrats on the plays & the weight loss..., I love Italian food, so I'm looking forward to reading more here.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Congrats on having those plays published! This vegan chocolate cake looks quite good. The problem with these healthy cakes is that I think that I can eat more because it's healthier. Ah, one of these days I'll learn my lesson. Losing 10% of one body weight is impressive. I'll find out in a few months what that feels like, although it's not the same as what you did to get where you are right now. :)

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Claudia - I am always smiling when I read your writing - even the comments you leave are interesting. What a talented writer you are. It's not surprising your plays are published. While in Miami I took "A View From the Bridge" with me to read. I know as a playwright you've probably read it, but I never got around to it until now. I'm expecting you'll be just as successful as Miller. And thanks for the chocolate cake - it looks appetizing even though it's vegan. You are setting a good example for me in shedding those pounds. Way to go.

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

I must commend you on your weight loss. I wish I could be doing as well. I've been reading all these vegan recipes, but haven't broke down yet. This would be a great one to start with. Congrats on all your plays, you are such a great writer.

Monet said...

You are such a talented woman! I so wish I could come and see one of your plays. Congratulations on having the latest one published. This chocolate cake looks amazing...Thank you for sharing yet another delicious and beautiful recipe. I hope you have a fabulous Friday and a relaxing weekend!

UrMomCooks said...

Congrats to you! I think 2011 is going to be your year! (and you are a darn good baker too!)

Angie's Recipes said...

Congratulations, Claudia!
You deserve the chocolate cake and do eat one large piece for me. :-)) My husband complains there ain't enough snow here in Germany :-))

Anna's Table said...

Claudia, Congratulations, I'm so happy to hear about your success with the plays.
I couldn't help but think of you this morning as I walked by the butter in the dairy aisle of the grocery store. I have to commend you on your resolve to reach your ideal weight. Claudia, there is really truth to the saying that "necessity is the mother of invention"; great job on the vegan cake. It looks delicious. Have a lovely week-end!

Pam said...

Great cake and great also with your weight loss. Congrats with the plays, you are one talented lady!

Amy said...

Delicious sounding cake! Even better that it is vegan ;)! Congrats on the weight loss, keep up the good work :)! Hope you are staying warm this winter...before we know it Spring will be here!

Lori Lynn said...

YAY for you Claudia and your dietary successes! That frosting sounds mighty good to me.

And we played the Hair album over and over too! When the musical "The Wiz" came out, I was confused and thought it was called "The Wig" a remake of Hair.

Jen_from_NJ said...

Congratulations Claudia! I am so happy for you! It is so nice to see that all of your hard work and dedication is paying off.

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

So many good things in this blog post! Awesome.

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

So many good things in this blog post! Awesome.

theUngourmet said...

Your vegan cake looks wonderful! Eat. Live. Be. is such a great idea. Congrats on nearly reaching your goal. I made a vegan recipe recently replacing the egg with a golden flax and water mixture. It came out just great.

I love seeing the photos from your plays. So fun!

Leslie Richman said...

Lovely! Vegan sweets are wonderful :)

Island Vittles said...

Congratulations on such a great start to 2011! It sounds like your commitment to eat better has really taken hold -- nothing can stop you now! Theresa

Chef Dennis Littley said...

Congratulations on your weight loss! Your vegan chocolate cake looks delicious, I am amazed at how good some vegan foods look, they have come so far!
I wouldn't even know it, and I know I would enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Great post as usual! So glad the plays are doing so well, just as well as your diet! Double celebrations all round! Needless to say that cake looks deliciously moist!

MaryBeth said...

I love the story behind your cake, I am also smiling and wishing I could have some now.

Anonymous said...

great vegan cake :) i'm not much for vegan food (Polish food as Italian doesn't give much for vegan) but this one looks great! THank you for passing by and all kind words :)

tasteofbeirut said...

I am going to make this vegan cake! We are all dying for more chocolate cake recipes around here (can never have enough_)
And congratulations for your plays! What a wonderful satisfaction to get all this hard work rewarded, recognized!!!!

denise @ bread expectations said...

I'm not unduly bothered about labels when I eat, vegan, veg, carnivorous, but I am very hot and bothered about the chocolate orange combo here! Lo-ver-ly LOL

And CONGRATULATIONS on getting published! :)

Mari Nuñez said...

Lovely Claudia :) I will share this recipe with my brother, I am sure he will love a vegan chocolate cake.