A few years ago, while walking into the office, and a woman stopped me to say, “Girl, you look gorgeous.” I can’t remember what I did that day: I probably emailed ppl, sat in on conference calls, looked through some contracts. I can’t remember when I left the office or what I ate for dinner. I can’t even remember what I wore that day. But I will never forget the way that woman’s words darted through me like a shot of espresso. It’s International Women’s Month and while we can and should celebrate the women who fill our history books, let’s also remember to celebrate the women who can change our lives every single day: each other.
I figured there was really no better way to celebrate women than to make chocolate cake. Like a really GOOD chocolate cake. Not dry, not too dense, not too sweet. Now, you have to understand, guys, I’ve been making chocolate cake since I started The Korean Vegan all the way back in 2016. It’s my husband’s absolute FAVORITE dessert and therefore, it was among the very first things I learned to veganize. But over the years, I’ve been tweaking it here and there to make it a little more perfect, a little more scrumptious.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve–like using bananas instead of eggs (which you can’t really taste, btw), two shots of espresso to really intensify the flavors (I use decaf), and heating the chocolate mixture up so that the cocoa powder becomes totally liquified. I also like to use oil in lieu of melted butter, to keep the cake a a little lighter and soft (what does butter turn into when it’s being cooled? You guessed it–hard!).
But, my Achilles heel has always been the frosting. When I started baking with vegan butter, my buttercream frosting would always break and it would literally drive me bonkers. I tried everything–keeping everything at the same temperature, chilling the frosting and then mixing, using a hair drier while mixing, adding more cocoa powder and even flour to help emulsification, letting the stand mixer beat the living daylights out of it for 20 minutes straight, you NAME it, I tried it. My frosting always started to curdle. So, one day on my own initiative, I decided to start with the dry ingredients and then add the butter and the other wet ingredients.
Look, baking professionals can yell at me all they want, but this has SAVED my buttercream frostings. By adding the dry ingredients first and THEN the wet ingredients, I can keep an eye on the consistency and make sure I’m not adding too much fat (i.e., butter) to throw off the delicate balance that is seemingly necessary to achieve a non-curdled buttercream frosting.
I added peppermint to the batter because my husband prefers mint chocolate cake. However, if you don’t want to add any, just skip it. A word of warning: peppermint extract is powerful stuff so I only added 1/2 teaspoon!
Vegan Mint Chocolate Cake with Simple Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Mint Chocolate Cakes
- 2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour (370 g)
- 2 cups sugar (400 g)
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 pinch salt optional
- 1 1/8 cup cocoa powder (120 g)
- 2 shots espresso (see Note)
- 1/2 banana, mashed
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup melted chocolate (at room temperature)
- 2 tbsp plant milk (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Mint Chocolate Cakes
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Spray 2 7-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line them with parchment paper. (Watch the video for how I do this.)
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk and set aside.
- To a small saucepot, add cocoa powder, vegetable oil, water, peppermint extract, espresso, vanilla extract, and banana. Stir together over medium-low heat until the cocoa powder has completely dissolved.
- Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients. Using a whisk, mix together all ingredients until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Divide cake batter equally into the two cake pans (use a scale–it's not as intuitive as you think!).
- Bake in the oven for ~38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5 to 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife or offset spatula around the edges to loose the cakes before flipping the cake pans over and gently dislodging the cakes.
- Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before frosting them. You can also wrap them up and place them in the fridge overnight (this will actually make it much easier to frost them).
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl.
- Add 1/2 of the butter, melted chocolate and vanilla extract and mix using handmixer until the mixture becomes creamy. If the frosting is too thick, additional butter (1 tablespoon at a time) and plant milk until you reach desired consistency.
- Wait until the cakes have completely cooled before attempting to frost them. I generally do not like too much frosting, but if you like frosting, double the frosting recipe.