Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate cake balls with sea salt - Vegan and gluten free!

Yesterday I was invited to Fred talks, an amazing spin on Ted Talks, at my great friend Steve’s House (check him out in The Huffington Post - He was their Greatest Person of the Day yesterday! It’s a potluck, so I decided to make my now famous gluten free, vegan, chocolate doughnuts with chocolate glaze. So I baked them. And then I was doing other things and didn’t take them out of the pan right away. In fact, I went to take them out of the pan about an hour later, once they were completely cooled. Not a good plan. They wouldn’t come out of the molds without breaking.

Oh crap.

It was 5pm, and I had 1 hour to make something work or else I would show up at Steve’s empty handed. No bueno, especially considering that Steve usually announces my mad baking skills to everyone both at the party, and directly on the e-vite! I had to have dessert, and it had to be good.

So I put my thinking cap on.

I had leftover vegan, sugarless vanilla icing. I had what was now baked chocolate crumbs from the doughnuts. I had vegan chocolate chips. By gosh, I had all the makings for gluten free, vegan cake balls, batman!

So into the kitchenaid mixer the crumbs they went. Paddle attachment? Check. Mix mix mix. Add the rest of the vanilla icing. Beautiful. The crumbs and the icing became a doughy mixture that can only be compared to heaven.



Things were looking up.

I rolled 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a ball. And then another, and get the picture.


Into the freezer they went to set.

I melted the chocolate on my trusty double boiler.

Out of the freezer the cake balls they came. Dipped the toothpicks in melted chocolate and then into each cake ball to set. Back into the freezer for a few minutes to harden.



I then dipped the entire cake ball in chocolate, and put it back on the parchment covered pan. Once they were all covered, I put them back in the freezer to set.



I took them out and tried one, and almost keeled over.


Oh my. They tasted like chocolate truffles! I’m sorry, do you remember that these are vegan and gluten free?? Because in that moment, even I didn’t believe me!

But there was something missing. And then I thought of it: salt.

Salt brings out the flavor in everything. That’s why we use it in baking! That’s why salted caramel has become so popular: the salt makes the caramel taste even more caramely! What? I kid you not!

So I took the cake balls out of the freezer, and when they started to get a little condensation on them from sitting at room temperature (about 2-4 minutes), I dusted sea salt on top of each cake ball (the condensation helped the salt stick to them).

Off to the party they went. And, the nerve of them: they upstaged me! I had people looking at me with wide eyes going, “I need another one. Where can I get another one?” with a look that said if you don’t make one appear in front of me right now, there’s no telling what I might do. Despite fearing for my safety, I was flattered. Who knew my mistake would turn into my greatest masterpiece?!

Well, there is a great life lesson if I’ve ever heard one, friends.We’ve heard the expression that says when one door closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us (both Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell were credited online with this quote, so I don’t know who said it for certain). It’s all about choice, about choosing which eyes we’re going to look though.

I could have had a meltdown when I chose to believe 2 hours of work were ruined because my doughnuts were stuck in the molds. But, after I swore a lot and almost threw the doughnuts across the kitchen (oops - did I say that out loud?) I took a deep breath, swallowed down the panic, realized this was not a problem, but a challenge, and a fun one at that. Calm, cool and collected, I chose not to see ruined doughnuts, but glorious cake balls! So long closed door - hello opened one! And may I say, you taste delicious!

Love always,
Your crazy cake ball,

P.S - update on my 40 4-inch cake challenge - I’m at 30 as of right now! Only 10 to go! Then onward to the fun stuff: decorating them! Stay tuned!

How to make Lauren’s gluten free vegan chocolate salted cake balls:
  • Take your favorite gluten free vegan chocolate cake recipe - bake as usual.
  • Make the gluten free vanilla frosting I gave you the other day.
  • Buy some vegan chocolate chips.
  • Put the baked cake in a food processor or kitchenaid mixer with paddle attachment. Mix until it’s all crumbs.
  • Add about ¼ cup of vanilla icing (or really, as much as you want until you get a dough-like texture that actually resembles uncooked dough).
  • Line pan with parchment paper.
  • Scoop out the dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place each one on the parchment paper lined pan.
  • Put in the freezer to set and harden.
  • Melt your chocolate in a double boiler. Just use a pot of water and a metal bowl: bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Place the bowl over the pot. Add the chocolate chips and let them melt, stirring occasionally, though not too much. Vigorous stirring will create air bubbles - not something we want!
  • Take the cake balls out of the freezer. Dip a toothpick in melted chocolate and stick it in the cakeball. Repeat for each one. This helps the stick stay on the ball.
  • Put them back in the freezer to chill and set, about 2-4 minutes.
  • Take them back out, and dip the fully into the chocolate, ensuring the entire ball is covered. Repeat for all.
  • Place them back on the parchment paper, and back into the freezer until set.
  • Take them out of the freezer after 10 minutes and keep them in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • 2 minutes before serving, take them out, and once condensation starts forming on them, dust them with sea salt.

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