Vegan Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Cake

11:54 pm

A chocolate cake covered with toffee shards, layered with bittersweet chocolate mousse and salted toffee popcorn makes for a decadent dessert - and believe it or not, it's vegan.

As this is my first 'real' post, I guess it calls for an introduction- what, or more correctly, who is the face behind a food blog with a punny title and a questionable layout? As of now, I am a 17 year old girl and I have just finished my high school exams. With months of freedom ahead of me, I have decided to start my own blog as I try to determine what it is I am truly passionate about and take my mind off some of those emotions of fear and anxiety that come with the realisation of the reality of the big, scary world out there.

But - onto the cake!

This recipe is inspired by Black Star Pastry's vegan chocolate popcorn cake. My version involves a simple one-bowl chocolate cake that is mixed together without the traditional cake ingredients of egg and milk, but these items are not missed - a soft, moist cake is produced as a result. It is then topped with toffee shards, made simply with sugar and water brought to an amber colour and poured and left to cool. The two-ingredient mousse contrasts these two sweet elements through the use of 70% dark chocolate with its slight bitterness, and to top of this smorgasbord of different textures and flavours, popcorn is pressed into the soft mousse, the saltiness helping to offset what could otherwise be an extremely sweet (but still delicious) cake.

Vegan Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Cake
Serves: 9 

Cake (Adapted from Joy the Baker) 
210g plain flour
61g cocoa powder
135g white sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm coffee
115mL vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Toffee Shards
120g caster sugar
1/2 cup water

Chocolate Mousse
200g dark chocolate (70% or higher)
280mL light coconut milk

Salted Toffee Popcorn
Approx 35g of salted popcorn
120g caster sugar
2 tbsp water

1. First make the cake:  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line a 20cm x 20cm square baking tray with baking paper and grease well. In a large bowl, whisk together the plain flour, cocoa powder, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Create a well in the centre, and pour in coffee, oil, and vanilla extract. Stir until just combined with a wooden spoon. Pour into the prepared tin, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre has just a few crumbs on it. Allow to cool.

2. Then, make the toffee shards: Place water and sugar into a medium saucepan, cooking over low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to a deep amber colour (about 12 minutes). Pour toffee onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Be careful, it is hot! Leave it to set until cooler, and hard. Break into shards. Layer the shards on top of the cake when it has also cooled.

3. Next, make the mousse: Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments or over a pot of simmering water. Add the coconut milk, stirring to combine. Using a hand mixer on low-medium speed, beat the mixture for 5 minutes. Pour on top of the cake and toffee, and spread evenly over the top- it should be pourable. Tap against counter a number of times to release trapped air bubbles. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

4. For the popcorn: Place popcorn in a large glass bowl. Combine sugar and water and cook until caramelised (an amber colour), cook without stirring- just swirl the pan. Pour over the popcorn and quickly stir to coat each piece. Then, tip it onto a lined baking sheet and use a spoon or spatula to smooth the popcorn into a layer of desired thickness- it can be built up to be like a pyramid shape or flatter like I have done in the picture above. The popcorn is very hot at this stage.

5. After the cake has chilled, leave it in room temperature for 15 minutes, before topping it with the popcorn. Serve.

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