October 23, 2009

It's Friday it's late / Veganmofo 2009

I've got quite an unrelated variety of foods here representing everything from serious and healthy to ridiculous but healthyish. First the ridiculous. Some time ago Diann posted a five-minute microwave chocolate cake-in-a-mug on Eat'n Veg'n. A similar recipe was also in a cookbook I reviewed. I was mildly interested in trying it just to see if it would work, but we didn't have a microwave at the time so I forgot about it. I don't know what triggered the memory in my brain, but I was about to watch Mad Men one night and suddenly I wanted chocolate cake, and remembered Diann's post. WE HAVE A MICROWAVE in this house was all I could think of. Now, I'm not sweet obsessed, and rarely ever have dessert unless we have company. My husband usually has an apple for dessert. But suddenly I was obsessed with microwave cake. I don't even like microwaves, but I had to do it. This led to a series (I'm too embarrassed to say how many cakes were in the series) of microwaved cakes, all of which got eaten before they could be photographed. Me and the apple-eater gobbled 'em up. Not that they were photogenic, understand, as they didn't necessarily come out of their mugs, bowls, dishes, etc. in one piece.

One of the reasons I've been trying so hard to get this right (one of the reasons, uh huh) is I want to make this cake with my tiny granddaughter, and the speed and ease of assembly and nearly instant gratification fits well with her attention span. This cake is basically done about 5 minutes after you start. I had to make a non-chocolate version because her mom doesn't like her to eat chocolate, and I think I'm ready for our play date tomorrow!

As Diann said, this won't replace a carefully made "real" cake, but it works great for a sudden dessert craving. The taste and texture are really good, especially served still warm. It's kind of like a big, soft muffin. Add some jam, ice cream or whatever, or just eat it plain.
Instant microwave cake - chocolate version (easily serves two)
  • 4 tablespoons whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 5 tablespoons soymilk (or other milk)
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar and baking soda. Mix well.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips to coat with flour.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, place the soymilk, then vinegar. Stir in the oil and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid to dry and mix thoroughly but gently.
  5. Lightly grease a mug or small bowl. Add cake mix.
  6. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from microwave (it will be hot) and allow to cool for several minutes. Loosen edges and turn onto a plate. Let cool a little.
  8. Serve while warm.
Instant microwave cake - coconut version (easily serves two)
  • 5 tablespoons whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  • apricot jam
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, coconut, sugar and baking soda. Mix well.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips (if using) to coat with flour.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, place the almond milk, then vinegar. Stir in the oil and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid to dry and mix thoroughly but gently.
  5. Lightly grease a mug or small bowl. Add cake mix.
  6. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from microwave (it will be hot) and allow to cool for several minutes. Loosen edges and turn onto a plate. Let cool a little.
  8. Serve while warm, with jam on top
Notes: I know almost nothing about microwaves but they seem to vary a bit so cooking times may be different. I think the one here is 850 watts, if that means anything to you. Err on the side of too little cooking so the cake isn't dry. You can always put it back in for another minute. It may appear to be moist at the edge but if the rest seems springy and done, it's OK.

Cashew cheese with toasted sesame oil
Now for something a little more serious. I've been eyeing recipes for cashew cheese for a while but can never remember to soak the cashews, and then we end up eating them before I get around to making the cheese. Well, I finally soaked some, and made an uncooked cashew cheese. I was pretty surprised to find that after five hours of soaking, some of the cashews had actually started to sprout! You can find endless variations for this delicious cheese online so it seemed pretty safe to deviate from the recipes and make this stuff based on the ingredients I happened to have. I didn't add any herbs, choosing instead to flavor the cheese with a fruity vinegar and toasted sesame oil - two additions I didn't come across in my recipe search. This stuff is sublime and I can't wait to make some as a starter next time we have company. It would be a perfect dip with crisp raw veggies.

Cashew cheese
  • 2 cups raw cashews plus water to cover
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • very small clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unpasteurized mellow white miso
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fruity vinegar (I used balsam cherry)
  • a few drops of toasted sesame oil (more to taste)
  • water as needed to process
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • paprika
  1. Soak the cashews 4 to 6 hours. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place cashews, garlic, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until very creamy and smooth, adding water as necessary for processing, keeping mixture as thick as possible. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Add miso, pepper, vinegar and oil. Process to mix well.
  4. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave out for 2 to 4 hours until preferred level of sharpness has developed. Then refrigerate.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with paprika and more black pepper.
Here's a link to another cashew cheese recipe you might want to try. It's baked. And here's another. More ideas here.

update: I added jalapeño hot sauce to the cashew cheese on Saturday, and also recommend adding chopped parsley and/or chopped green onions. The cheese got very firm and spreadable in the refrigerator overnight. Next time I make it I plan to use umeboshi paste and tahini instead of the miso.

No-knead whole-grain bread with barley flour and sesame seeds
Today I made a no-knead bread using white whole wheat, barley flour and sesame seeds. It was baked on a stone and had a wonderful taste and texture - nutty from the barley and rich from the sesame seeds. I used one cup of barley flour to four cups of white whole wheat. I originally needed the barley flour to make blondies from Sweet Freedom. My husband does the shopping, and he bought a large bag of the stuff. Even though I've made the blondies three times, I still have a ton of the flour left so I've been adding it to my baked goods with good results.

Oatmeal with a side of news
I'll leave you with my healthy breakfast (from Wednesday) just to show that I am occasionally responsible and sensible. I need to counteract the completely silly things I've been doing with the microwave. (FOOD things!) The picture above shows a wonderful bowl of oatmeal with coconut, raisins, cashews and rice milk. The only thing that could make a breakfast like this more perfect would be to come downstairs and find it already made. I seem to be the only one in the house who wants oatmeal in the morning but I love it.


  1. Ha ha I'm not a sweet toothed gal but when I get the craving that microwave cake is gooooood.
    I so want to have a go at making cashew cheese - it's way up on mah list of things to do.

  2. It all look so good!! thanks for sharing!
    Debra @ Vegan Family Style
    don't forget the cookbook giveaway on my blog

  3. If you want a primer on making microwave mug cakes, tips, and many more variations (and I think they're all far tastier than the original chocolate version), you might want to check out my new book, "101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes" (BPT Press). The web site is www.microwavemugcakes.com. It's available everywhere books are sold. I just taped a segment featuring one of the recipes for the Rachael Ray Show, so keep watching!

  4. Wow, microwave cake! That sounds like my kind of baking. :-) The cashew cheese looks awesome too! Another thing on my list of stuff to try. Thanks!

  5. Two of my favorite foods in one post--cake and cashew cheese! (thanks for the link) :)

    Is that an apple upside-down cake in the foreground? Or just some topping on your coconut version? They all look great. I, too, love oatmeal for breakfast--though sadly, no one's ever made it for me, either!

  6. Everything looks so amazing in this post! I haven't tried any of those microwave cake recipes yet that are online. I have been tempted a few times to try a chocolate one though.

    That cashew cheese sounds delicious! I'll have to make this sometime. I bet cashews make a super creamy spread.

  7. Jeni,
    The cake is kind of like a yummy muffin but it works for those cravings!

    I had no idea there was a whole book about these cakes. I'll look for it.

    I'm having fun with both of these things. Who wudda thunk it?

    You were my cashew inspiration! I inverted the cake onto a plate and spread apricot jam on top. It's made with spelt, did you notice?

    Thanks! You should try the cake and the cheese.


  8. Debra,
    You're welcome! I'll check out the cookbook.

  9. Mmmm how good is that mug cake?!?!? My only problem with it is that once I've made one, I tend to want one again the next night! I'll have to try your version too. Mine involves egg replacer powder, which isn't a bother, but sometimes I forget to add the extra liquid. I've discovered that microwave cake works with applesauce as an oil replacer too (so it's not quite as evil, nearly, but not quite).

    And mmm, I'd love to hear about the cashew cheese with the umeboshi vinegar and tahini! I have umeboshi vinegar in the fridge and hardly ever know what to do with it (and I love cashew cheese!).

  10. Wow! So much yumminess in one post! I LOVE the idea of chocolate cake in a mug, that is adorable and it sounds like a lot of fun. I've never heard of doing that before but now you've got me thinking about it too!

    And cashew cheese is awesome, isn't it? That photo is really beautiful...and hunger inducing.

  11. And I just re-read that you said umeboshi paste not vinegar....please ignore me. I'm multi-tasking and it's obviously not working very well for me :P

  12. A slice of that bread with a spoonful of the cahsew cheese would make me a very happy woman right now!

  13. Ha! I had forgotten about the microwave cake too! It's almost a little too easy to throw together, but nice that it just makes one serving.

    I think the oatmeal looks the best!

  14. Vegetation,
    Hmmm. Yes I know what you mean about the mug cake becomming a problem. I made so many, though, that I had to force myself to taste them to see how the recipe turned out. One morning there were three siting on the counter, and I gave them to my son when he showed up at the house!

    I have a grteat recipe for tofu cream cheese made with umeboshi paste and tahini and I wanted to try making it with cashews instead of tofu. Or maybe half cashews and half walnuts.

    The cake is very muffinesque, but fun. Now I'm getting hungry thinking about the cheese!

    I wish I could hand over that slice!

    I try to keep things under control by making the cake two servings! And I love the oatmeal best, too.

  15. that cashew cheese sounds so good right now

  16. Oh, Andrea !!!! *speechless*

    I have a question though, - my sons plan on making an online cookbook for vegan kids (thinking about step-by-step photo how-tos) and, though we are of course trying to come up with our / their own recipes (younger J has a funny idea for the first post, - we'll see how that goes lol), we are also looking for easy recipes to use.
    Would you allow them / us to use your microwave cake recipe?
    We are thinking of making the recipes both in German and English.
    Would love to hear from you!

  17. Kiki,
    I love the cheese - if only I were better at planning ahead (i.e. soaking cashews).

    Yes they can use it. The chocolate is an adaptation of other recipes floating around the Web. The coconut was my idea but you probably could find another version if you searched. To be fair, if they use "found" recipes, they should credit the source. Sounds like a fun project.


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