The Mississippi Mud Cake is hands down one of my all time favorite cakes. I know. . . I have many cakes I LOVE--this one is truly on top of the list. I've been a tad depressed lately. Who isn't? This heat. This long summer. Will it ever end? Will fall EVER get here? This cake may not be what a doctor would order for the blues, but it's what has lifted my spirits quite nicely. It's chocolate for crying out loud--it works, what can I say?
There's probably as many versions of this classic southern chocolate cake as there are bottles of blonde hair dye (trust me, I would know). If you guessed this cake may have gotten its name from the muddy waters of the mighty Mississippi River, you'd be correct. And the river right now is very muddy, especially in this heat we're having. God bless the cat fish living in it.
So this cake is just now having its debut on Vegan Thyme--a blogger in love with all things chocolate. . . all things cake? It's the heat. I've been miserable I told you. However, I'd been without cake long enough. Let's turn on some music, and turn ON the oven. One hundred degrees or not--it was time for cake. Plus, it was the vegan marshmallow. I was stumped. And for me to turn out a "I-swear-to-Pete-this-cake-is-good" southern gem like this, I had better have my marshmallow issues in order or this cake attempt would be all for not.
Some say the Mud Pie is a close relative of the Mississippi Mud Cake. I say, I don't think so. I've never craved a pie like I crave a cake and I don't know any true cake lover who would take a pie over a cake when the mood strikes. I just say someone down the history chain was in a pinch to create something chocolate, yummy and gooey and solved it with a roll of pastry dough and pudding. Don't get me wrong, I've never met a pie I didn't love. But if the two were placed in front of me--I'd jump for cake every time and would not find any Mud Pie tasting remotely like this cake. This above shot of the cake was taken right after I gave it my five-finger method of frosting with the ganache. Seriously. I used my entire hand for this! I think I saw it done once on Baking with Julia or was it America's Test Kitchen? Either way--one of the baking women I was watching took their hand and slathered it in ganache, using the fingers for drizzling said ganache over said confection. It was brilliant! That image has forever stayed with me and I doubt I will ever try to drizzle anything with a spoon again. (The hands are a baker's best tools.)
So I was wandering in the grocery store yesterday after a mad dash out to grab an ice cream maker for Mr. Thyme and me. I totally had ice cream on my mind. . . until I met this little container. (Here's why the ice cream maker: We watched waaaay too much of Food Network yesterday morning and by the time The Neely's had come on and Gina put together "homemade peach ice cream" it was all over but the crying for us in this house of "no ice cream maker".) The jury is out on this investment. Our first not-quite-ready-for-Ben & Jerry's attempt takes place this evening--there will be an update shortly. All I can say is that I spend entirely too much money on my little vegan cookie dough ice cream pints. (The nearly six dollars! I pay for one should be against the law--why does the vegan always have to pay for the profit margin in big box grocery stores?) I'm thinking--given my current ice cream jones I have--the ice cream maker will pay for itself in like, oh, ten days. I have an ice cream thingy like my chocolate thingy--cookie dough especially: God grant me the serenity to be able to create a cookie dough ice cream at home. All will be right with the world and I promise, I will abide.
So this cake. Strolling through the two aisles dedicated to "granola fare" at my local store, I glanced up to my utter amazement and saw just what I'd been looking for to make my most-wished-for-cake: vegan marshmallow cream! I was all agog over this little container, I nearly wept. I had had a yen for a Mississippi Mud Cake now for weeks. . . WEEKS! What's this cake all about you might ask? Well, it's about the chocolate cake part being as irrisistible as a chocolate brownie--that's for starters. It's about the layer of marshmallow (of course--but it must be applied while the cake is still warm, but NOT hot!). It's about that simply lovely layer of chocolate ganache drizzled all over the top, then taken another step further (for nut fans like me)--and topped with some chopped pea-caaaans! Say it this way because in these parts, that's the proper pronunciation of pecan. Then it's about eating this cake for a week in fits and starts because you could literally go into a "state" consuming too much of this in one sitting. Pure heaven.
So I had a few recipes of this cake lying around the house--tucked in a three ring binder, and a few cookbooks held some hope as well. But I did my research on the internet, too (as all food bloggers will do). Then it was decided. I'd take the best of a few and lean on one: Paula Deen. In case you hadn't heard, she can bake southern like no one's business. I don't really want to hear any comments on the Paula Deen mention here. I would totally love to have her over, treat her to some vegan sweets and I just know she'd swoon. So don't be rude here about her.
In my opinion, Paula had the one true Missippi Mud Cake recipe worth giving a go. For my adaptation, I gave the usual vegan changes--no eggs, no dairy. Then, amped it up a bit with the addition of mini-chocolate chips in the cake batter. (I have found that any cake-like creation of the chocolate persuasion can always benefit from a pinch of mini-chips to the batter.) I then added a teeny bit of almond extract, not too much, just enough and a pinch of cinnamon. This cake has met all of my personal cake-ness test markers: the chocolate part rocks, cake part very moist, cake part STILL moist and even better on day two, frosting part. . . well, that alone is all the reason you need for trying this cake on for size. But seriously, if this doesn't fix your chocolate craving, summer blues and general malaise--then you need more than a song and cake to fix what's ailing you!
Vegan Mississippi Mud Cake
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (scoop flour into cup and scrape cup method of measuring)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted vegan margerine (1 stick)
1/2 cup canola oil or safflower oil
2 cups Florida Crystals sugar or brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon dark vegan baking cocoa
pinch of cinnamon
3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons warm water (equiv. of two eggs)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 cups vegan marshmallow cream (OR you could use two cups of vegan marshmallows--but I liked my version just fine)
Preheat your oven to 350. Test your oven temperature--this cake is very moist and you need to be sure it has baked through the middle, so if your oven temp. is off, well, count on more baking time. Lightly spray with baking flour a 9 x 13 cake pan. Next, prep your Egg Replacer. (If you decide to use flax seed and water, that is up to you, I cannot vouch for this working in this cake, but CAN say the Egg Replacer worked perfectly in my humble opinion.) Next, prep your "buttermilk"--add the apple cider vinegar to the soy milk and set aside while it "curdles". In a small sauce pan, heat the vegan butter, canola or safflower oil, cocoa and water over low heat--just bring it to a nice warm level--about 4 minutes is all it takes, whisk it all really well. You want the cocoa to come together in this pan before adding it to the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a mixer place the flour, salt and sugar--whisk together really well. Next, mix together the vegan buttermilk, egg replacer, baking soda, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add this to the remaining ingredients and blend on medium speed until smooth, scrape down the sides of the bowl--about two minutes of mixing total. Fold in the 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Test cake for doneness as the finish time approaches by sticking a toothpick in the middle of the cake--if it comes out clean, and the sides of the cake are beginning to pull away from the pan, you are good to go--remove from oven and allow the cake to cool for about 20 minutes. While the cake is cooling, prep your chocolate ganache. *After the 20 minutes of cool time has elapsed, place the marshmallow cream into a sandwich baggie and clip off one corner of the bag. Spread the cream over the top of the somewhat cooled cake. You don't want the cream to MELT--you just want it to sit there nicely. So don't rush this step. I liked the "piping" method of adding the marshmallow vs. spreading with a knife.
Chocolate Ganache (And Pea-caan Topping)
4 tablespoons dark vegan baking cocoa
1/4 cup vegan butter or half a stick
3 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (more or less--add the sugar until the mixture begins to thicken and the mixture is smooth, it will stiffen up some while it cools--you still want it "spreadable" or "drizzable" with the hands!)
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until well combined. Drizzle over the marshmallow layer over the cake. Next, take about 1/3 cup pecans and sprinkle over the cake.
This cake gets better with age! (Don't we all?!) Store covered at room temperature. Or in the fridge in case it's a hundred in your house.