[posted by Ann]
One of the easiest cake recipes I know is an applesauce chocolate cake with no butter or eggs. But it always fell short of the mark on chocolate flavor although the texture was heavenly, light and moist. I tweaked the basic recipe to make a cocoa-enhanced gingerbread, with excellent results, perhaps on account of these three ingredients: grated fresh ginger, coconut milk-roasted applesauce, and hard apple cider.
1 cup applesauce (see note 1)
¼ cup dark molasses
grated fresh ginger from a 3-inch piece
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger or cardamom
1 teaspoon grated orange zest or finely minced dried orange peel
1/3 cup mild vegetable oil such as grapeseed
¼ cup coffee liqueur or strong coffee
1 tbsp vinegar
1-1/2 cup flour (see note 2)
½ cup turbinado, unrefined or brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Final ingredient: ½ cup hard apple cider or sparkling cider
Line a baking pan (8-inch square or equivalent 5x9 inch rectangle) with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Mix dry ingredients in a 4-cup measure or mixing bowl. If cocoa has clumps, sift through a strainer.
2. Mix the wet ingredients together in 2-cup measure or medium bowl, whisk until well blended.
3. Add the wet mix to the bowl with the dry ingredients. When mixed in, add the apple cider and blend quickly.
4. Bake for about 35 minutes.
Delicious warm from the oven and equally good at room temperature the next day.
1. Applesauce: Make the applesauce in advance—cook cored, quartered apples in some coconut milk (1/2 to 1 cup depending on the quantity of apples) with a pinch of salt, until soft. Cook the applesauce on the stovetop or roast in the oven. Puree in a Vitamix or food processor. A Vitamix will even pulverize the peel. Probably best to peel the apples if pureeing with a food processor. Alternative strategy—cook down a cup of regular applesauce with ½ cup of coconut milk to get about 1 cup. Or simply use ¾ cup applesauce with ¼ cup coconut milk. The coconut milk enhances the quality of the cake.
2. Flour: I had good luck with 1 cup all purpose flour, ¼ cup spelt flour, scant ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour, and 1 tablespoon fine pecan meal. I have been disappointed with a bitter taste when using only the whole wheat pastry flour from a local farm.