At my old job we discovered an amazing recipe called Chocolate Orbit Cake from The Essence of Chocolate. It was written by one of my favorites, David Lebovitz, so I knew it had to be good. I was left to test it out. Time after time. I kept screwing it up during the baking process. I either forgot the water bath, or the water got into the springform pan and drowned the cake, or I forgot to cover the pan with foil… gaaah. Finally though, I figured out how to get it to bake perfectly (which I’ll get to later). Freakin’ water baths, man…
This cake was the love of my life. It was easy to make (after the first few times), it was wonderfully chocolatey, melted in your mouth, and required nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar and maybe some whipped cream. When a customer needed advice on which chocolate dessert to choose, there was but one direction to take.
Today, I bring you a new version of it: vegan, and depending on the chocolate used, lower in sugar. Yet still ridiculous. Trust me. I’m gonna call it “Freakout Cake” because that’s what one would do after trying it.
The original recipe calls for only four ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs and sugar. At the cafe, I always added a few splashes of brandy, Cointreau, whiskey, or whatever booze we had on hand. It made life better. My version uses ripe bananas and arrowroot starch to replace the eggs. Why? The bananas are naturally starchy, yet moist and creamy; in this particular case, they mimic well the silky and fudgy texture that the eggs would give. Additionally, they blend well with the chocolate flavor. The arrowroot smoothly binds and thickens as the cake bakes, to ensure this baby remains intact when you slice it– slice it like butter…
Vegan Chocolate Freakout Cake
10 oz top-notch bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces (I used Lindt 90%, but I’m also crazy. You can try 85% or 70%. Unless you’re crazy too.)
7 oz (or 14 tbsp) vegan faux butter
3 very ripe medium bananas (or 2 large)
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp arrowroot starch
a splash of booze, if you’re so inclined (Kahlua, Amaretto, Irish cream, brandy, etc.)
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. If you’re fortunate enough to have a 9″ springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and coat with non-stick spray. If not, use a regular 9″ cake pan and line it with aluminum foil so that you can lift the cake out once it’s ready to serve (coat the foil with non-stick spray as well).
2) In a medium bowl, place the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water (don’t let water into the bowl!), and allow the chocolate and butter to melt. Stir occasionally until it is completely melted and combined. Set aside and cool for a few minutes (but don’t put it in the fridge!).
3) Puree the bananas in a food processor. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and arrowroot. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the bananas and puree (if you can slowly pour in the sugar while the processor runs, do that). If you’re using booze, add it in here as well.
4) With a rubber spatula, gradually stir the banana-sugar puree into the melted chocolate (it’s okay if the chocolate is still warm). As you stir it in, the mixture will thicken up, kinda like pudding. Dark, delicious pudding… Make sure the batter is well combined, and pour into the prepared pan. Save a little batter for yourself, you’ll be glad you did. Tightly cover the top of the pan with foil. That step is very important.
5) Here’s the tricky part with the water bath. If you’re using a regular pan (not springform), you can place it into a larger baking pan or dish and fill with water about a third or halfway up the 9″ pan. If you’re using a springform, it’s going to need to go in an extra round pan before going into the water bath so that water doesn’t seep into the springform. The waterbath helps the cake to come out nice and smooth. However. I did not even have a pan large enough for my 9″ to fit into, so I just put an extra pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven, and still had good results. So there.
6) Bake for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. I pulled my cake out after an hour, but if you use a real waterbath, it may take a little longer. Regardless, you’ll know it’s done when the edges are set (maybe even a little puffed up), and the center still jiggles a bit when you shimmy the pan. Allow the cake to cool, and refrigerate it overnight (your patience will be rewarded). It will be solid enough to handle, but once you cut into it, you’ll see how smooth and melt-in-your-mouth crazy it is. Room temperature is best to serve this cake so that the chocolate softens a bit.
To serve, you can: dust with powdered sugar, sprinkle with chopped candied nuts, drizzle with fruit puree, top with whipped cream or ice cream (vegan or otherwise), or, if you don’t have time for such nonsense, go naked…
YOU’RE my new boyfriend.