November 24, 2011

It's German'S Chocolate Cake, People!

I have this theory that the type of frosting on a cake is what truly makes the cake, not so much the cake itself. I think red velvet cake as one of them. My theory is that people love the cream cheese frosting more than anything. And maybe the color... But there's really not enough cocoa in the recipe to make it a chocolate cake, so I have to laugh out loud when people try to qualify it as one. There are only two ounces per two layers' worth of batter!

The other cake I think is really made by its frosting is German Chocolate Cake. Or really German's Chocolate Cake. Many of you have probably heard the story by now. It was never really chocolate cake invented by the Germans. This link tells the rather humorous story of its come-about and how it went from being a recipe developed by a man named German to actually being considered German. And the original recipe from Baker's provides both the cake recipe and the complementary coconut pecan frosting, which is another topping that, in my opinion, makes the cake. When all is said and done, it's kind of a very basic, "barely there" sort of chocolate cake. It's that flavor carnival called coconut pecan frosting that's really (forgive the overuse of cliche) the icing on the cake!

I've tried out several different from-scratch recipes for coconut pecan frosting, all egg-based and a whole lot of work because you're building from a custard. None of them really turn out like I need them to... Most are too runny and make moving the cake for delivery very hard. Since I move this kind of cake on a regular basis, I need a more stable frosting. Also, a lot of folks hosting parties don't have room in the refrigerator by the time the cake arrives. It's so packed with party fixings, they can't make room for a three-layer monstrosity that might need refrigeration because of a dairy- or egg-based frosting. With your various holiday gatherings taking place near and far, you don't want a mudslide in the backseat before you get there!

So I've come across this great vegan recipe that holds together like a dream and is fine for situations lacking refrigeration. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is an excellent source for lots of vegan cake and frosting recipes, but its Coconut Pecan Fudge Frosting is the real winner in the book. I'm not really sure why it's called "fudge" frosting though, as there's no sign of chocolate in the recipe anywhere. Typo maybe? Who knows... But seriously, it's so good, you can eat it with a spoon. It totally makes the cake!

Coconut Pecan Fudge Frosting (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1/2 cup rice milk
1/4 cup arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon

Whisk rice milk, arrowroot/cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, stir together coconut milk and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to boil. Turn heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Whisk rice milk mixture once more and then slowly pour it into the coconut milk mixture, stirring continuously to incorporate.

Stir mixture continuously until it darkens again and gets very thick and smooth, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla, whiskey, pecans, and coconut. Stir until everything is completely combined. Cool to room temperature before frosting cake. Makes enough to cover a three-layer 8- or 9-inch cake.