Chocolate Cake: A Universal Delight

Norwegians are as passionate about their chocolate cakes as anybody else in the world, so it seems wrong not to include a recipe for one on Arctic Grub.  I have been looking to make the perfect chocolate cake for quite some time now, and I finally have a recipe that I am super excited about!

Chocolate cakes can take many shapes and forms, using lighter chocolate like milk chocolate or dark, poured into baking pans, cake pans, loaf pans or even muffin pans.  Here’s a picture of some classic Norwegian chocolates:

norsksjokolade

I prefer using dark chocolate, not just because it is void of any milk products, but because I find the flavor is much richer and deeper, and of course… dark chocolate contains more nutrients and has all the heart-protecting anti-oxidants. Here are some great reasons why you should choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate:

1.  Dark chocolate is brimming with monounsatured fatty acids.

2. It contains half the sugar of milk chocolate and four times the fiber.

3. Iron levels soar in dark chocolate and can help make you strong!

4. It’s got way more magnesium and twice the potassium.

5. Dark chocolate has more theobromin, the bitter alkaloid of cocoa that helps lower blood pressure.

darkvsmilkchocolate

Now, if I still haven’t convinced you which chocolate is better, all you have to do, is just make this chocolate cake and you will throw your hands up and agree with me! 🙂

It’s hard to believe this cake does not contain any dairy or eggs. Rich, yet still light and fluffy – it comes together in 6 minutes and you don’t need a bowl to mix the ingredients – you just mix them right in the cake pan! Quick, easy and delicious? Yes, please!   Don’t think the vinegar in the recipe is a mistake, the combination of vinegar and baking soda helps the cake rise.

chocolatecake2

For the frosting, use a high quality chocolate like Valhrona or Callebaut.   For a more beautiful presentation and if you have a few more minutes, you can mix the ingredients in a bowl, and line the cake pan with parchment paper, oil the sides and dust with flour. This makes for an easy removal of the cake after it comes out of the oven and a more elegant look for guests.

I made this for my colleagues at work, and the cake was gone in minutes! Enjoy!

chocolatecake3

MY FAVORITE, MOST DELICIOUS VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE
Cake Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold, strong brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Chocolate Glaze
  • ½ pound dark/bittersweet chocolate
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Equipment: 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan, 2-cup measuring cup, double boiler
  2. Preheat the oven to 375º.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar directly into the cake pan.
  4. In the measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, coffee, and vanilla.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly.
  6. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.
  8. To make the glaze, melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  9. Stir the hot water and vanilla into the melted chocolate until smooth.
  10. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake.
  11. Refrigerate the glazed cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

chocolatecake1

Kålruletter: An Old Norwegian Recipe Gets A Lift

In my constant quest of veganizing the Norwegian cuisine, I’m updating an old, classic Norwegian recipe called “kålruletter” or “kålruller”, which in the traditional way, are Savoy cabbage leaves stuffed with ground pork and baked in the oven, served with a white, creamy sauce.  My version has cooked rice, lentils, sauteed shallots, garlic and red bell pepper seasoned with freshly ground nutmeg and spiced paprika.  I have to say… my version is a lot more flavorful – of course I’m not biased at all ! I still challenge you to try my version, as I feel it’s packed with deep, layered flavors from all the different ingredients and also incredibly satisfying.

For those hard core old school’ers, you can check out my old post about kålruller here.  Even if you prefer the vegetarian version, you can get some additional information about the dish and its background there.

According to the World Healthiest Foods, cabbage can provide some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you cook it by steaming (as in the first step of this recipe). The fiber-related components in cabbage do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels.

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C, and has great anti-oxidant related properties, which is partly responsible for its cancer prevention benefits.

Cabbage has a long history of use both as a food and a medicine. It was developed from wild cabbage, a vegetable that was closer in appearance to collards and kale since it was composed of leaves that did not form a head.

It is thought that wild cabbage was brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. It was grown in Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations that held it in high regard as a general panacea capable of treating a host of health conditions.

While it’s unclear when and where the headed cabbage that we know today was developed, cultivation of cabbage spread across northern Europe into Germany, Poland and Russia, where it became a very popular vegetable in local food cultures. The Italians are credited with developing the Savoy cabbage. (end quote whfoods.com)

If you have not been convinced yet by the amazing health benefits of cabbage (and vegetables in general), then at least try this recipe for its amazing flavor!  The meat will not be missed, I promise! 🙂


Kålruletter The Healthy Way

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup brown rice

1/2 cup green lentils

3-4 shallots, sliced thin

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp organic vegetable bouillon powder

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1 head of Savoy cabbage, whole leaves picked apart

1 cup vegetable broth

Directions:

Oil an ovenproof dish that will fit 8 to 10 rolled up cabbage leaves and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 F.

Rinse the rice and the lentils separately. In two different small pots, cook the rice/lentils with 1 1/2 cups of water each for about 15-20 minutes until done.  Set aside.

kalruletterrawingredients

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, add shallots, garlic and bell peppers and season with salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes, then add nutmeg and paprika, saute for another 30-40 seconds until fragrant. Add the rolled oats and toasted walnuts, and saute for another minute.

kalrulettersaute

Add the lentils, rice, and onion mixture in a food processor along with bouillon powder and the 1/3 cup of water and pulse a few times until a rough farce is formed.  Place in a bowl and place in fridge while you prepare the cabbage leaves.

kalruletterfoodprocessor

In a large pot, bring a generous amount of salted water to a bowl, and place the separated cabbage leaves in the water, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until just starting to soften. Be careful not to overcook, as you want the vibrant color of the cabbage to remain.  Scoop the leaves out of the water and place on clean dish towels so the water dries off.

Place one big spoon of the lentil rice filling into each cabbage leaf, and roll up like a spring roll.

kalruletterstuff

Place the stuffed roll with the seam down into the prepared ovenproof dish. Fill with the vegetable broth, it should only cover the bottom of the pan.

kaalruletter1

Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, the cabbage rolls should be golden brown on top.

Bechamel Sauce

1/2 cup vegan butter

1//3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

3 cups plant based milk (I used almond milk)

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

Heat the vegan butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until melted. Add the all purpose flour and whisk.  Allow to cook, whisking frequently, for a few minutes until a roux is formed. Make sure it does not darken, as we are making a white, not brown gravy!

  1. Add the milk, nutritional yeast, salt, Dijon mustard and garlic powder and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until sauce is nicely thickened to the consistency of cheese sauce.  add the lemon juice and agave nectar and stir. If too thick, add some more non dairy milk.

kalruletterwhitesauce

Serve the baked kålruletter with the baked potatoes and drizzle over some of the white sauce. Guilt free and super delicious!!

kalruletterdone

Norwegian “Pannekaker” Re-invented

It has been nearly two years ago since I posted about Norwegian pancakes on this blog, where I included a traditional recipe which included eggs and milk, you can read that post here. A lot has happened since, the most important thing has been my decision to adopt a plant based diet.  Initially I was slightly worried I was not going to be able to supply true Norwegian recipes, because let’s face it: 95% of all dishes from my country contain one animal ingredient or another…  Diving into test mode a bit further, I was relieved that not only can I make a lot of the old, classic recipes without resorting to butter, milk and eggs, I could recreate them to taste exactly the same way, and sometimes even better!

In place of eggs, I use flaxseed mixed with water, often referred to as “flax eggs”.  It looks something like this and acts like a binder, just like eggs do:

flaxeggs

Here are some of the other ingredients I added into this batter: almond milk, maple syrup, good quality, organic all purpose flour, and the secret ingredient to all the tasty Scandinavian baked goods: vaniljesukker, or vanilla sugar.

pancakeingredients

In Norway, pancakes are thinner than American pancakes, and enjoyed for dinner, not breakfast, and typically filled with blueberry jam and accompanied with a savory vegetable soup, such as “beta suppe” (although this often has meat in it) or green or yellow pea soup. The combination of sweet and salty is heavenly,  very filling and most importantly, satisfies all the taste buds.

betasuppe

This recipe for pannekaker is very versatile and can be used both for savory and sweet pancakes – simply omit the sweetening agent and the cinnamon if you prefer them savory. I personally like a bit of a sweet batter, regardless of what I choose to stuff them with.   These are super soft, juicy and delicious, all without adding eggs or milk!

COMPASSIONATE PANCAKES NORWEGIAN STYLE

makes about 8-10 pancakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)

2 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water

1 1/4 cup almond milk

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil (rapeseed oil or canola) *or 4 tbsp melted vegan butter, I like Earth Balance

1/4 cup maple syrup

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  In a smaller bowl combine all the wet ingredients, then gradually add into the dry mixture until well incorporated and the batter is free of lumps.  The batter should be relatively thin in texture.  If too thick, you can add a bit more water/almond milk /plant based milk of your choice.

Let the batter rest for about 10-15 minutes before you begin cooking them.  Add a bit of oil (not too much) or vegan butter to a frying pan and carefully pour in the batter with a ladle.  When the surface starts drying out, flip the pancake and finish cooking on the other side until golden. Repeat.

pancakefrying

Top with blueberry jam, fresh fruit, maple syrup, sauted vegetables or topping of your choice – roll them up into a sausage like concoction and chow!

pancakewithbluberries