Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Caramel Pudding

29 Apr

I’ve been told the problem with caramel is that once you learn how simple it is to make it, suddenly all your recipes with sugar become recipes with caramel. This is completely true.

The first time I made caramel, I was following a recipe for a Jerusalem kugel, which instructed me to make the caramel with a 1/4 cup oil in a shallow frying pan. This resulted in an absolutely terrifying ten minutes with the exhaust fan going and me explaining to Ben how I was absolutely certain I was going to burn the apartment down, detailing my emergency evacuation plan since we don’t have a good fire extinguisher.

Because I’m a masochist when it comes to cooking, I kept trying the same recipe, and then different recipes. Eventually, I found one that told me to make caramel in a dry saucepan. BINGO.

You start off with plain white sugar in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. First, it gets a little moist, like wet sand. Then it starts clumping more, with rough shards. As you keep stirring, eventually it starts to turn a light golden color and melt all liquidy lovely. Once it’s all melted, you’ll find it’s suddenly a very liquid caramel, and you can now proceed in one of several ways. If you add milk and cornstarch, you have pudding. See below.


This uses soy milk in place of milk. You can also use almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or anything that makes you happy. I happened to have a coupon for Silk (which I usually don’t buy because it’s the same price as the Westsoy only not organic, PLUS the unsweetened Silk soy milk is sweet), so I had a half-gallon in the fridge. Which means I used soy milk this time.


Combine the following in a measuring cup (or whatever container suits your fancy, but I don’t like washing extra dishes):

  • 2 c. soymilk (or almond, coconut, etc)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In another bowl, mix together:

  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • enough soymilk to make a thin paste

Next, put

  • 1/2 c. sugar

in a medium, dry saucepan. Stir with silicone spatula over medium heat until it turns a nice golden color and melts. As soon as it turns into caramel, CAREFULLY add the milk mixture, constantly stirring so that the caramel doesn’t solidify to the bottom in one big chunk (if it does, it’s no big deal). Add:

  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips

Keep stirring until caramel and chocolate dissolve, being careful not to let it boil over. Once it’s smooth again, add the cornstarch paste, stirring constantly. It should thicken up instantly. Pour into a large bowl or individual dishes and cool 2-3 minutes before placing into the fridge. Chill at least an hour.



Birthday Cake for Megan!

22 Jul

When you’ve got a dairy allergy, getting a good birthday cake can be hard. It usually means either a) spending a fortune at a vegan bakery (assuming you can even find one), b) having a friend make one for you, or c) making it yourself.

I learned to bake because I like baked things, and the only way to safely have them is to do it myself. I’m also one of those masochistic bakers who really only gets excited about a challenge. My meringue pies usually have a full 4″ of meringue on top. I made six types of macaroons until I found one that was good enough for my standards. So when I was deciding what type of birthday cake I wanted this year, for my last birthday without children, when I’ve got a ton of time at home, I went a little crazy.

Holy crap! I made that!

I went through my three standby cookbooks, searching for The Perfect Recipe. I narrowed it down to the Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake with Ganache and Chocolate Ruffles from BakeWise (it’s the image on the cover, actually) or Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Turns out, the chocolate ruffles need a pasta roller to get the modeling chocolate nice and thin, so that one will have to wait until I own or can borrow a pasta roller. So Chocolate Peanut Butter it is! (Oh, the hardship!)

Deb recommends a sour cream based chocolate cake for that one, which I’m sure is lovely, but sour cream is one of the harder dairy items to substitute. So I looked for a replacement decadent chocolate, and ended up (still with her site) with the Double Chocolate Layer Cake. So now I’ve set myself up to make a chocolate-buttermilk layer cake with a peanut butter cream cheese icing and a chocolate peanut butter ganache… dairy free. Some days even I think I’m crazy. Oh, and the cake also calls for two 10″ pans, which I don’t own. So we’re doing it in 8″ round pans, which this chart tells me will make FIVE 8″ rounds.

Somebody stop me.

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. This cake took pretty much all day to make. We started the batter after breakfast, around 10am. Aside from a break for lunch, a break for a shower, and a quick beer run, it’s what I did with the entire day. I finished icing the cake about 5:30pm, then popped it in the fridge to chill. This is not your every day cake. This is a Special Occasion Cake. I probably won’t make something this elaborate again until Thanksgiving. Ben says I should make this same cake again, but I’ve never been good at repeats.

By the way, do you see the slice taken out of that top image? It took five of us to eat that much of this cake, and it wasn’t easy. When I say this cake is rich, I’m not exaggerating.

Clearly, we need a bigger oven. Or fewer layers. Nope, definitely a bigger oven.


The cake batter calls for 3 ounces “fine quality semi-sweet chocolate” and 1 1/2 cups “well-shaken buttermilk”. As far as potential dairy sources on a cake recipe, we’re doing pretty good. There are a number of good non-dairy chocolates out there — I actually used Baker’s, because that’s what we keep on hand, but the Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips are also usually okay. As always, check the packaging before you buy. I hate when they reformulate without telling you.

As for buttermillk, you can now find coconut milk kefirs, which I am told taste quite similar to buttermilk. We used So Delicious Coconut Yogurt Beverage, although I think you could probably also use soy or coconut yogurt diluted down with soy/coconut milk. Seriously, I don’t know what’s wrong with you dairy-eating people, but I checked the expiration date at least three times after I opened it. Ben swears that’s just what yogurt-related products smell like. I was very concerned, but I added it to the batter anyways.

The icing gets a little more complex, but not too much so. The peanut butter cream cheese frosting uses a Tofutti cream cheese, which I’ve even used successfully in the past for a cheesecake. And the Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze calls for heavy cream, which I swapped out with unsweetened Mimicreme.

Somehow, we ended up with only 3 layers instead of 5. Also, they’ve got the density of a neutron star.


Instead of reprinting the whole thing here, I’ll direct you straight to Deb’s Smitten Kitchen for the recipes. The layers are from the Double Chocolate Layer Cake, and the two frostings are in her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake recipe, and the substitutions are pretty straight-forward. I also really recommend taking a look at some of her notes on baking. They really do help the process.

If you’d like the recipe with dairy substitutions but no other comments or notes in an easily printed format (for use while cooking), here’s the version I used: Double Chocolate Layer Cake (docx file)