vegan chocolate less-mess cake

October 24, 2011

I did not become a lifestyle guru overnight, my friends. It has taken years to perfect my kitchen skills but it all started with this cake recipe from an American Girl magazine.

I was 10 when I pulled my first baked good out of the oven and I never once looked back.

That said, I wasn’t always satisfied with the level of real-girl style that I was getting from AG, so my friend and I started Pre-Teen Magazine. Sadly we never got picked up, but our one and only issue was gold.

Aren’t your taste buds tingling with delight from the thought of microwave chips smothered with cheese and baked on a glass pie plate? Mine are. Or maybe you are too excited about how your hair will glimmer with your creativity after painting your hair clips with nail polish. Totally. In addition to zine writing, we also had craft club. This girl always kept her glue gun hot because you never knew when you had to put a plastic sunflower on something. Or on everything for the entire year of 1995.

I can only imagine the over-worked 22-year old editorial assistant living in New York who developed this cake recipe. She was probably wearing a Blossom hat and Doc Martens and cursing her small kitchen. Which explains why you make the cake in the pan you bake it in. It has small kitchen written all over it. Additionally, it is vegan so she probably lived on East 4th and Avenue A.

Well fast-forward to 2011 and I’m still making it! With one change – I’ve graduated to making it in a bowl and not in the pan.

I had this brilliant idea that I would stuff them with marshmallows for a party but when you bake marshmallows into cupcakes, it doesn’t become exactly like a hostess cupcake. It sort of disappears into the cake and turns into a sticky mess.

Listen to someone who has been baking this cake for 16 years – skip the marshmallows, but make the cake.

Vegan Chocolate Less-Mess Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake or 14 cupcakes

Adapted from American Girl, April 1995

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water

Preheat your oven to 350. If making cupcakes, prep a tin with liners. If making a cake, grease the pan and dust with a bit of cocoa. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Make three holes in the dry mixture and pour the oil in one, the vinegar in another, and the vanilla in the last hole. Add the water and mix until combined (or you can combine all the wet ingredients in a measuring cup and add to the dry in one addition). Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 or until a tester comes out clean.

Salted Caramel Frosting 
Makes about a cup, enough for 12 cupcakes

4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons salted caramel
1/4 cup of cream, more as needed to thin

Cream butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Pour in half the cream, add in the rest of the sugar and the caramel and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add the remaining cream as needed to make the frosting spreadable. Transfer to a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe frosting on to cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

lucy October 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm

i totally made that cake when i was little too! i remember being mesmerized by the icing designs they had. the cake is super good…way to bring back an oldie but a goodie!!


Jessica W. October 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm

PRE=TEEN MAGAZINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Megan February 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

It’s interesting that you’ve made a vegan cake but neglected to include a vegan frosting… There are butter alternatives, but your salted carmel frosting recipe is not vegan. Good try! It makes me think that this recipe is unintentionally vegan to make the ingredients “less messy”. Go figure!


Lillie February 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

You are right! I’m sorry if I was misleading! 🙂 The cake recipe was not originally listed as vegan, I just billed it as such after I realized that the the cake I had been making for 16 was in fact, vegan. The frosting was a last-minute (non-vegan) addition since I had some salted caramel on hand!


Diane November 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Would you consider adding nutritional info? That would be great!


Katie February 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Oh my god, I absolutely remember PORING over this recipe way back in ’95 (I was 10, too!). I think I made the frosting, and…just ate that. 1995 was filled with A LOT of poor food choices (Gushers, Mondo Juice, Lunchables…I could go on).

Love the blog! 🙂


paula rothman December 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

sigh, i must be too old to remember this. thanks for the vegan recipe and we can improvise the rest. maybe some vegan marshmallows would be interesting. sweet and saras ( also from bklyn) are awesome!
not ALL vegans live in the village and dont shave their legs..


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