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Hi.

We're a family of 3 traveling by sailboat. I like to bake, so you'll find a lot of recipes dispersed within the documentation of our travels. Enjoy!

Best Chocolate Cake, Vegan Version too!

Best Chocolate Cake, Vegan Version too!

I usually stay clear of click-bait titles but if I used them I’d title this something like, “Stop everything and make this cake” because it’s the best chocolate cake (unless you’ve had my grandmothers chocolate cake and you already know her’s is the best, this is a close second) that deserves a pause and all of your attention. I’m often drawn to ordering the chocolate cake on dessert menus in restaurants even though I’m consistently disappointed. I want it to be this chocolate cake because this is what I imagine when I think chocolate cake, and it never is. This dense yet fluffy, dark chocolate cake ticks all the boxes of a cake with purpose, not just a  carrier for sweet sweet frosting or a companion to ice cream. This cake can be the whole show, icing or not. It has a deep chocolate taste enhanced by coffee. Seriously, stop what you’re doing and make it.

 **You’ll have to excuse the poor photos I have for this cake. I’m meaning to update them by making the cake again soon, but I really wanted this recipe published because it’s just so perfect! It seems to disappear so quickly when I make it that I haven’t taken the time to photograph it properly. **

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I started writing this post in August 2018 when we were in Maine on Twig. We had just arrived on Vinalhaven, in Polly Cove, also known as Carver Cove depending on which maps you have or who you know. We journeyed to Vinalhaven from Rockland, Maine. Rockland is one of the most populous cities in the Penobscot Bay region. It’s the county seat of Knox County making it have a governmental, gritty, working-class feel to it; all while being adorned by artistic shops and museums to prove its claim of being the arts capital of Maine. As a cruiser, Rockland provides a wonderful farmers market in the summer, festivals to remind you there are people in Maine and not just secluded anchorages and uninhabited islands, larger grocery stores, local artisans, really good restaurants, culture, and coffee shops with really fast wi-fi. Still, after a few days in Rockland, I’m usually ready to get out of the “city” and back to rustic Maine.

The route to Vinalhaven from Rockland passes through the famous Fox Island Thoroughfare, which includes many islands of many different sizes, none of which are named “Fox.” The Thoroughfare separates Vinalhaven from North Haven at distances mostly under one nautical mile. As you wind through here, both the shores of Vinalhaven and North Haven can be seen, including elaborate vacation homes, boat houses, fishing boats, tiny islands with just a few trees on them, seals sunning themselves, and of course, a rocky shoreline like no other.

North Haven at golden hour

North Haven at golden hour

Polly Cove is quiet and protected from prevailing southern winds. The approach is deep and straightforward and it’s not uncommon to see other boats choosing to spend the night there. The rocks on the shoreline hold the mossy woods back and evergreens lean over the water to create reflections in the often glassy waters.

Polly Cove one foggy morning

Polly Cove one foggy morning

It’s kind of incredible that I haven’t written a post about Maine yet. We’ve spent more time in Maine than anywhere else and everywhere is as fantastic as Polly cove, well mostly anyway. I suppose I’ll have to work on that while you’re busy making this cake.

We shared this cake with friends on various occasions and I adapted it for some vegan friends. I had my doubts in making a cake without eggs but it turned out pretty spectacularly. This is the cake Rev requests for birthdays and on a whim and it’s suited well for either occasion or no occasion. This is the cake of my dreams when I dream in chocolate (please tell me y’all dream of chocolate cakes as often as I do). It would be just as wonderful as a German chocolate cake as it would a slab cake without any frosting. I usually frost it with whipped cream as a light and fluffy topping to balance out the dense, dark, rich chocolate. It can be made with regular cocoa powder but dark chocolate cocoa powder is the best! You can also halve the recipe and make a 6” round cake, an 8” x 8” square cake, or just one 8” cake. It’s super versatile!

One of many birthday celebrations last summer.

One of many birthday celebrations last summer.

 

Recipe:

1/2 cup butter, melted (I used salted)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup milk (I used almond but any type will do, even water or an extra cup of coffee)
1 cup black coffee, brewed and cooled
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder  
1 3/4 cup flour (I used bread flour but all purpose white will work too) 

Instructions:

Prepare two 8” round cake pans by greasing and flouring them. Using your electric or stand mixer (which I have neither of so I use a manual egg beater), mix sugar and butter. Add eggs and beat for a minute or so. Add cocoa and vanilla. Add cooled coffee and milk and mix carefully. Add the flour and before mixing, add the baking soda and powder so that it mixes with the flour a little before touching the liquid. Beat the batter for a minute or so to whip some air into it. Batter should be a little runny but shiny and smooth. 

When it was so hot, the whipped cream just melted right into the cake.

When it was so hot, the whipped cream just melted right into the cake.

Pour about 3 1/2 cups into each 8” pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. 

 

Vegan Version

1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flax meal (this is my favorite kind because it’s the BEST) mixed with 6 tablespoons water (set aside to soak for 5 minutes)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder  
1 cup flax or almond milk  (or any non-dairy milk)
1 cup black coffee, brewed and cooled
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour (I used cake flour but all purpose white will work too)

Use same directions as above.  

Chicken Skillet Dinner

Chicken Skillet Dinner

What We Learned on Land This Winter

What We Learned on Land This Winter