Bake yourself this Mini Vegan Chocolate Cake whenever you have cause for celebration. Or not, doesn’t matter. It’s delicious either way!
Step outside your door every once in a while, for adventure awaits those who dare to venture.
Ever since I became a full-time food blogger, I’ve been shut up inside my apartment all week, venturing out only on the weekends for grocery shopping and monthly visits to a cafe where my husband and I talk about new things for the blog, our lives and just about everything else. Sort of a coffee date / business meeting, if you will. Sure, I go on trips and hikes every once in a while, or occasional prop shopping (which is equal parts work and fun), but nothing compares to the routine of stepping out the door every morning to go to work, to a designated desk set aside just for you.
I do miss that sometimes, but then I remember how much more I love doing what I do now, and the feeling passes as quickly as it came over me. Every day, when I walk over to my home-office desk with my morning cup of coffee and turn on my computer, I have nothing but pure joy in me. To each one his own, I guess.
But I cannot deny that I have become somewhat of a slob, appearance-wise. I work at home in sloppy clothes, because what’s the point in dressing up when you’re going to be covered in food stains at the end of the day? The only person who sees me is my husband, and he’s already promised to love me no matter what. So I’m covered on that front. Most days, I keep working without a sense of time, until my husband calls me at lunchtime to remind me to go eat something. And sometimes I don’t even realize it’s time for dinner till he comes home and I look at the time. You might find me over-worked, or a tad too obsessive, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I LOVE it!
While my previous job had me working the same, I was being whipped by my boss/overlords to do something I was never passionate about. This, on the other hand is self-inflicted, and I am finally happy.
But this is not a tale of my time indoors. Rather, it’s what happened when I stepped outside the threshold.
A couple of weeks ago, after a particularly heavy dinner, my husband and I decided to take a walk around the apartment complex – we do that sometimes, and it’s always quite relaxing. But that evening, we took a detour from our usual route and went behind the buildings instead, which is sort of the common backyard and play area. We’ve been there, of course, but never at twilight, especially twilight that comes after the rain.
The state of Georgia (where I live) is extremely wooded, and my apartment complex is surrounded by large, tall trees, and a small brook that cuts down the center and runs off to the side, which is what the back of my building looks at. Doesn’t that sound absolutely idyllic?
And on that evening, with the ground darkened by the damp from the brief afternoon shower, the canopy of trees were greener than ever, and everything was awash with the subtle glow of twilight. It was like a little piece of heaven itself, and right there in my backyard too, and I’d been living here for 2 years now! I stood there, mesmerized by the scene, and promised myself to bring my camera out and capture the beauty of this unexpected wild.
Before every shoot, I envision the scene I would create around the food, but this time, I knew what the scene was to be. I just needed to find the right food to match the scene.
It was my birthday last weekend, and I wanted to bake a cake to celebrate, but what use is it to bake an entire cake for just two people? That’s just asking for trouble! Which is why I came up with the Chocolate Cupcakes for two or this even faster Microwave cupcakes for two. But I wanted a cake that looked like one, and a cupcake just wasn’t going to cut it.
And that is how I decided on this Mini Vegan Chocolate Cake. The brown of the chocolate would offset beautifully against the moss green scenery, like earth and grass- meant to be.
So I made the cake and topped it with a chocolate frosting rose – a task easier said than done. It was my first time piping roses, and took me the better part of an afternoon, excruciating patience and countless roses that just didn’t make the cut. If you’re planning on doing it yourself, I only have one primary piece of counsel: practice, practice practice. It does get better with every try, I promise!
Additional tips on piping roses:
1. Work with stiff frosting.
2. Pipe a central ‘cone’ to support the petals. The taller the cone, the bigger your rose can be.
3. You can DIY a makeshift flower nail by gluing a piece of stiff cardboard to the head of a long nail, piece of straw, screwdriver head – get creative! (use something as ‘temporary’ as Elmer’s glue, so that when you’re done, you can just peel the cardboard off the nail)
But if the task seems too daunting for you to try, fret not. This Mini Vegan Chocolate Cake tastes amazing, with or without the rose.
I took my tripod out of the apartment for the very first time, and after what I can only describe as the most interesting hour I’ve spent with my camera, I came back upstairs, with slightly muddied jeans and these glorious pictures. Now I cannot wait to go back out there again – just me, some food and my camera!
Should you ever wish to do the same, here are some things you’d do well to remember, for a seamless outdoor shoot. I wish I knew some of these, then I wouldn’t have come back covered in mosquito bites. And I could have saved the Mini Vegan Chocolate Cake!
- Wrap the base of your tripod legs with thick plastic and rubber bands, so the mud outside doesn’t ruin it. Discard plastic wraps before bringing the tripod back into the house.
- If shooting on a bed of moss (like I did), and it hasn’t rained outside, a little spray of water helps bring life back into them. They are brightest and most glorious green when wet.
- Take mosquito repellent. Please, for the love of God!!!
- Where there’s food, there come the flies. Keep them away with a few tricks like tarnished pennies in a glass of water, or cloves stuck into a lemon half. I wish I knew either of them, a billion of them swarmed on my gorgeous cake, making it inedible.
- Set up the scene and then introduce the food into it. If it’s your first outdoor shoot, you could be a little clumsy and accidentally knock over things.
- Wipe down all surfaces that went outside with a disinfectant. That’s just common sense.
Despite the innumerous mosquito bites and the unspeakable horror of having to toss this gorgeous Mini Vegan Chocolate Cake (which, if you can recall, was meant to be my birthday cake) into the trash, I still had an incredible amount of fun. Needless to say, I promptly made myself another cake, and it was absolutely delicious!
All things considered, it was an amazing day, and it was made possible because of my humble backyard – which taught me that even things you’ve taken for granted may look different and more interesting, if only you learn to look at it in a new light. A lesson that works on many levels, if you ask me.