Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Shadows that Rush Past Contest: Only One Week Left!

Just one week left before the contest ends! Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of The Shadows that Rush Past and a sketch of your favorite mythological creature.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I'm Baking

Triple Chocolate Cake!

I baked this cake for my sweetheart on Valentine's Day. Maybe it's really a quadruple chocolate cake. Do the cacao nibs count?

The Cake:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose white flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a mix of regular and Dutch)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
2 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to  350°F. Lightly oil and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
2. Using a whisk, combine the flours, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, canola oil, and water, making sure the mixture is well blended.
4. Add the sugar mixture to the dry ingredients along with the almond milk and vanilla. Stir gently until combined. Be careful not to over-mix. A few small lumps in the batter is ok. The batter should be relatively thin and easy to pour.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans (half the batter in each) and bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

The Chocolate Buttercream Icing (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):
This makes more than enough to frost a two-layer 9-inch round cake.

1/2 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance sticks) softened at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I used Earth Balance sticks) softened at room temperature
1 cup cocoa powder (I used a mix of regular and Dutch)
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove clumps
1/3 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. In a large, heavy bowl, cream together the margarine and shortening with an electric mixer until well blended.
2. Add the cocoa powder and blend.
3. Add the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating each time with a little bit of almond milk.
4. Add the vanilla, and continue blending for another 3 or 4 minutes until icing is fluffy.

The Chocolate Ganache (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):

1/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
4 oz. chopped semi-sweet chocolate OR 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp maple syrup

1. In a small saucepan, bring the almond milk to a gentle boil.
2. Remove from heat as soon as the milk starts to simmer, and using a heat-resistent rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips and maple syrup until mixture is smooth.
3. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

To assemble the cake:
1. After the cake has cooled, frost one layer of the cake with the buttercream. Stack the other layer on top.
2. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the buttercream, making sure to cover the whole cake. Put it in the fridge to chill for 10-20 minutes. (This is a good time to make the ganache.)
3. After the ganache has cooled somewhat (maybe 10 to 15 minutes), spoon it over the top of the cake. Let some of it drip down the sides. Try to coat the entire top of the cake so it has a nice, glossy ganache finish.
4. Sprinkle cacao nibs* on the top, in whatever pattern you'd like to decorate the cake. Add any other garnishes you like, such as fresh strawberries or raspberries.
5. Chill the cake in the fridge to set the ganache.

*You can find cacao nibs at well-stocked baking supply stores or in the baking section of some grocery stores. I bought mine at Sur la Table.

Allow the cake to warm up to room temperature before you serve it. If the entire cake won't be eaten the day you make it, store the leftover cake in the fridge.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Piggy Post

Recently Vinod and I did some drawings for a fan from Germany who ordered a copy of my book. He and his wife are fond of pigs and have a large collection of pig art and objects. Here are my contributions to their collection.

A fearsome creature, indeed.

Some Pig!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Win a Sketch!

The Chimera

If you haven't seen the post about the contest I'm running to give away a free copy of The Shadows that Rush Past, please check it out here! In order to encourage more entries, I've decided to sweeten the prize.
In addition to the book, the winner will receive an original sketch of the mythological creature he or she listed in the contest comments. The contest ends on February 29th. So, get entering!

The Shadows that Rush Past will be released in the United States in March.