Just lately, I have been finding myself involved in conversations regarding veganism. As a farmer's daughter and also the wife of a confirmed carnivore, considering going vegan hasn't been a concept particularly on my radar, however I find myself increasingly getting requests for vegan baking and now also considering trying it out as a family. Without wanting to start a debate on the right and wrongs of either argument, trying new ideas, ingredients and recipes definitely gets the go ahead from me. And so here we have it- a fantastic recipe for a vegan chocolate cake, and for me the key is as ever, that no one should know either way if it is 'free from' anything! The texture is dense and moist and the flavour perfect- spices are optional, but I'm the girl always chucking ALL the flavours into the bowl, so I say do it! It is great as is for a simple cake- just adorn with some fresh flowers and a sprinkle of cocoa powder, or if you want to get a bit snazzier- cocoa and ground hazelnut frosting is the perfect finish for this little beaut.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CAKE
200g lightly toasted blanched hazelnuts
115g spelt flour (you could use plain wheat flour if preferred)
170g 100% dark chocolate (check it is vegan suitable- I used Green and Blacks)
65g set coconut oil
80g coconut milk (full fat)
190g maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
4 flax eggs (4tbsp flaxseed and 10tbsp water)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your pan by greasing the bottom and sides of a round or square 8-inch pan with coconut oil. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper so the cake is easy to remove later.
Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a large bowl over simmering water (double boiler). After melted, stir in the coconut milk until combined. Remove bowl from the heat and stir in the maple syrup, hazelnut extract, vanilla, and salt.
Using a food processor, grind the hazelnuts until finely ground. Then using a spatula, mix the nuts, cocoa and flour with the chocolate mixture in the bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flax eggs until smooth. Then using a spatula, gently mix the 'eggs' into the chocolate/hazelnut mixture until everything is combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until still squidgy in the middle but crisping around the edges. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for a few minutes then place it in fridge until cold and set. To finish top with hazelnut cocoa frosting and chopped hazelnuts.