It’s been much longer than I expected; things of course didn’t go as planned, and I’m not in Anchorage as I thought I would be at this point, but I am finally back to updating Ragamuffin Diaries!
Joe & I were planning to say in the Kennicott/McCarthy area until late September, but then things didn’t pan out quite right at the place we were going to stay, and we both decided it made more sense to just head out a bit earlier. So we went to Kenny Lake on the 16th, then made a side trip to Valdez, camping in Thompson Pass where I woke up on the 18th to a gorgeous alpine fall day telling me happy birthday! It was perfect, or better.
We ate breakfast up in the pass, then drove back to Kenny Lake, where I spent the afternoon cooking a birthday dinner and visiting with my Grandma and Uncle Glenn, who came by for a few hours. Dinner consisted of moose steak and a roasted ratatouille vegetable pizza, which I’d seen a picture of a month earlier while still in Kennicott, when any of those veggies were far from accessible. The thought of it had made my mouth water ever since. The pizza was awesome, albeit a bit ‘unique’ because of the gluten-free quinoa crust we tried out (might not try that one again…).
The main focus of this post, however, is the dessert. You just can’t go wrong when combining chocolate and peanut butter. I played with a few other dessert ideas when trying to figure out what to make, but kept coming back to chocolate & peanut butter! Cheesecake used to be my dessert of choice, but since a dairy, soy-free cheesecake seems a bit impossible at this point, that wasn’t happening.
So for dessert, I used a chocolate cake recipe from My New Roots that I’d been dying to try, since it used chickpeas instead of flour…. and I love hiding beans in my baking whenever I can! I used a ganache recipe from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book. While in Valdez, I found this cookbook in a little health store, and, flipping through it, noticed this recipe. I’d already been contemplating how I’d make a vegan ganache, and here was a soy-free one that looked spectacular! After browsing through the book I decided I had to buy it, since besides being vegan, all the recipes are soy-free, and most use natural sweeteners. The peanut butter filling, in my opinion, still needs a little bit of work, but when I said that to the other five people enjoying dessert with me, they emphatically told me that I shouldn’t change anything.
I’d like it if the peanut butter filling was a bit creamier, but I don’t know how I’d pull that off without using more powdered sugar, which I don’t really want to do. So, I’ll give it to you as is for now, but I may post another variation of it at some point!
(The ganache needs to sit for a couple hours, so plan accordingly!)
Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cake
Cake (from My New Roots)
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted
4 Tbsp, plus 1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
2 cups garbanzo beans, drained
1 1/2 cup applesauce (I used some that I’d made & canned)
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9 inch pans – I used springform pans, which I highly recommend, if you have them, as this cake is very dense and moist, and doesn’t want to move so easily! Otherwise, you probably want to line your pans with waxed paper.
Mix the beans, applesauce, maple syrup, cocoa and baking powder in a blender until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and blend until well mixed. Divide mixture between two pans and bake for 35-50 minutes; I know this is a wide spread, but when cooking with beans, things don’t firm up quite as well! Chill completely in fridge, where the cake will firm up more.
Ganache (from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book)
3/4 cup coconut oil
3 cups dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
In a double boiler (or in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water), melt the coconut oil and chocolate chips, stirring frequently. When the mixture is completely melted, whisk in the water and salt until smooth.
Let the ganache cool slightly in the mixing bowl, for about 30 minutes, and then whisk in the vanilla. Set aside for about 2 hours to allow the frosting to set. If it becomes too hard to work with, remove a few scoops and melt again in the double boiler, then reincorporate into the cooled frosting until you achieve a spreadable texture.
This will make a bit more than you need for the cake, but I think you’ll find that it’s not hard getting rid of! We were dipping pretzals in and devouring it….
Peanut Butter Pretzel Filling
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp chunky natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp coconut oil, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp coconut milk
heaping 1/2 cup chocolate covered pretzels (gluten-free, if that’s for you!), crushed (you’ll probably need to make these yourself, as I haven’t seen dairy free ones… but they’re easy!)
With an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and coconut oil together until smooth, then add the sugar. Add the salt, vanilla and as much coconut milk as needed, beating until smooth. When it’s the right consistency (mine never really got smooth, but I just went with it), mix in the chocolate covered pretzels.
Put one cake layer on the serving platter. Cover with the peanut butter pretzel filling, and then spread a thick layer of ganache over that. Place the second cake layer on top, and cover with another thick layer of ganache. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and chill until serving. This keeps chilled for a few days.