05 September 2013

Devilish Chocolate Cake

Nutrition advice is everywhere. Or perhaps because I study nutrition, I see it everywhere. I predicated my junior paper, "Losing the Guilt: Language, Religion, and Weight Loss in Modern American Diet Culture" on this concept, focusing on how I observe(d) religion and nutrition occupying the same shelf space. While the literature I studied was mainly Christian, that's not to say followers of Jesus Christ have a lock on religious diet literature. Geneen Roth's Buddhist Women, Food, and God is but one of many New Age and Eastern mystic-influenced diet/heath/nutrition books (one which I consider particularly illuminating). 

Anton LaVey's The Satanic Bible yielded this fabulous fruit in discussing compulsion and indulgence. Indulgence, as LaVey defines it (consulting good ol' Merriam-Webster) is giving into one's desires, the opposite of abstinence. Furthermore, be they desires for the flesh or for material possessions, especially if they are desires stemming from the so-called seven deadly sins, there are desires which humans naturally have. Desires which have been otherwise labeled as negative and harmful by the Church in order to control people (I report this from The Satanic Bible; if you take this as Christian-bashing, go learn how to read an academic discussion with detachment and get off my back). Indulging these desires--to the extent to which you do not harm bystanders and/or those not deserving harm--prevents what LaVey Freudianly calls "frustration" that begets compulsion. In LaVey's psychology, it is in trying to find other outlets for the desires that we have suppressed so far as to create destructive compulsions that we surrender agency to a culture and religions of abstinence and deny our true natures.

I summarize so much because most of my readers probably have not read The Satanic Bible. Why do I spend time on this work in American religious history? Because I believe one can learn something, positive or negative, from anything. Thus I have learned...

Have a slice of cake. Better to have a slice than to eat 2/3 of the entire thing because "OMG I HAVE DENIED MYSELF CAKE AND OMG IT'S SO SINFUL TO EAT THIS CHOCOLATE CAKE BUT I MUST EAT IT ALL SINCE IT WILL NEVER PASS MY LIPS AGAIN!" Granted, I have a problem with sugar, and so eating cake made with it may not be a good idea. But in general, when you deny yourself cake for such a long time, but you haven't let go of the idea that cake is delicious, then don't continue your asceticism. You can't eat cake when you're dead. Have your indulgence, in a thoughtful, satisfactory way. Doesn't have to be a big ecstatic/traumatic surrender to compulsion for sweets when you regularly indulge and avoid creating deprivation.

Unless, of course, it's big ecstatic/traumatic release which you seek. In which case, I'm not going to stand in your way, provided you are not harming bystanders or those undeserving of harm.

I speak only of material indulgences here. You may do all the philosophical stretching as feels consonant with you.

Have a slice of this witch's cake, why don't you. As this is a chocolate cake where the chemical reaction of acids and bases (vinegar and cocoa), instead of melted chocolate, lends it its rise and colour, it is a devil's food cake. I think I mishmashed the definition of red velvet cake in that explanation, too, but we do it for the SEO.

Dang, being a Jersey girl, now I want to make this cake and decorate it with a giant NJ Devils logo.

Devilish Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups non-dairy milk (plain rice and unsweetened coconut work well)
2 tablespoons vinegar (rice, apple cider, and white are all good)

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (do not use Dutch)
2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch (or arrowroot or cornstarch)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/3 cups organic sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9*13-inch pan, line it with parchment, and grease the parchment. Alternatively, do the same prep procedure to two 9-inch cake pans.

In a large measuring cup, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift then whisk together the flours, cocoa, xanthan gum, leaveners, salt, and spices. Whisk the sugar, oil, and vanilla into the non-dairy buttermilk until no grittiness remains. Working quickly, stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until completely combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and tap the sides to reduce air bubbles. Bake for 33-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched and it passes the toothpick test. Cool in the pan for 30 minites before inverting onto a rack to cool completely. Frost and decorate when completely cool.

Chocolate Ganache
2/3 cup non-dairy milk
2 cups vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the non-dairy milk until small bubbles appear at the edge. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature to use.

Vegan Buttercream Frosting
8 tablespoons vegan margarine
8 tablespoons vegan shortening (I used Earth Balance stick shortening)
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted.
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat together the margarine and shortening until combined. Sift in one cup of powdered sugar. Fold it in partway, then
BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF IT until fluffy. Repeat with remaining sugar and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

My cake and my friend's fabulous decorations won a lot of converts to the idea that vegan and gluten-free cake is worth devouring.
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