The last several times I've made chocolate cake, I've experimented with the recipes in hopes of creating the perfect cake: very dark, rich, but not to the point of not being able to finish your slice, and really moist all without using eggs or dairy. I've done a bunch of research and combined a handful of recipes and I was really happy with the results of Logan's birthday cake.
A few explanations of some of the ingredients: Don't be freaked out by the prunes. They bind the batter (like eggs) and help keep it really dark and the flavor is totally undetectable in cake. Seriously. I used Caffix, an herbal fake Coffee stuff that Logan likes. The coffee flavor adds a deeper dimension to the chocolate and is a delicious addition (without being at all overbearing or even noticeable) but if you don't drink coffee (and don't want to use something like Caffix) you can leave it out. If you are cool with coffee, you could just use 2 cups of very hot, black coffee instead of the boiling water and Caffix powder. Dutch Processed Cocoa makes a darker, more moist cake with a deeper chocolate flavor but it is about twice as much as regular cocoa. I am a firm believer that high quality ingredients make all the difference, and for special occasions it is totally worth the splurge. I used half cake flour and half all purpose flour. It makes for a more delicate crumb, but I'm sure you can use just regular flour and get close to the same results. For the frostings, I used Silk Soy Creamer to replace the heavy cream in the original recipes. I think you could use any milk like product and get pretty much same results. (No promises if you make ALL of the substitutions; you might end with with a totally different cake.)
This will make a huge cake. We served almost 30 people (although the last couple of people had to eat the crumbs left on the cake plate.) If you want a more reasonable sized cake, halve the recipe and do just two layers.
Kate's Chocolate Cake
8 oz. very dark chocolate
1 ½ cups Dutch Processed cocoa
2 cups boiling water
2 heaping Tbs. Caffix (or similar coffee-like product)
5 oz. pureed prunes (baby food)
1 cup almond milk
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8 inch cake pans. Melt chocolate in double boiler (or however you like to melt chocolate- I use a small metal bowl that fits perfectly in my small sauce pan with about an inch of water). When chocolate is melted, stir in cocoa until dissolved. Transfer to medium mixing bowl. Dissolve coffee powder in boiling water and stir into chocolate mixture with wire whisk. Stir in prunes, almond milk, oil and vanilla. Mix together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and fold in wet ingredients until combined. Divide batter between the three greased cake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Once totally cool, frost with peanut butter frosting between the layers and chocolate on the outside.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Modified from Cooks Illustrated
16 tablespoon butter product of your choice
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Pinch table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons soy creamer
In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter and peanut butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and creamer, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
Also Modified From Cooks Illustrated
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped
1/2 cup soy creamer
Pinch table salt
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 pieces
Place chocolate in food processor fitted with metal blade. Bring creamer and salt to boil in small saucepan; stir to combine. With food processor running, gradually add hot creamer through feed tube; process until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl once. Add sugar and vanilla; process until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. With machine running, add butter one piece at a time; process until smooth and no butter chunks remain, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to small bowl and let stand at cool room temperature until thick and spreadable, about 30 minutes.