I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most touchy feely person. I love my friends, family and husband and would jump in front of moving pain inducing objects for them, but when it comes to all the typical lovey dovey stuff, it just ain’t me. When I see another romantic comedy on tv, I get the sudden urge to roll my eyes so hard they’re likely to fall out of my head and all those diamond ads they’ve been pushing lately make me gag with disdain. On the other hand, I think flowers, chocolate and random acts of affection can be just swell, I just don’t like the forced obligation of cramming all of these things into one day because that’s what your “supposed” to do. Have you figured out how I feel about Valentine’s day yet?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be hosting any anti-valentine’s day parties anytime soon and if you’re the type who embraces such holidays, have at ‘er. To each their own, right? I much prefer just treating it as another day. So my prediction for this Valentine’s day will be an evening of me and P watching new episodes of Parks and Recreation and The Office and then me tending to the various fermentation projects I’ve got started in the kitchen, all and all a good night. Oh, and there may also be some chocolate involved, you can’t forget about the chocolate.
Even filled with my slight contempt towards Hallmark holidays, there’s one thing I can get on board with, the overwhelming abundance of chocolate everywhere! Chocolate that’s usually mixed with some sultry punch of red or pink. I adore finding any excuse to bake AND I love chocolate AND I like red things that go with chocolate, so it was only inevitable that I would give in to this lovely little Valentine’s incentive and make something chocolaty to share with you all.
This rich dark chocolate loaf seemed like the perfect accompaniment to such a chocolate inspired occasion. Dutch processed cocoa powder adds a delicious richness to the cake and enhances the dark brown color. I know you all don’t have access to such an ingredient, so if you’d like to use your regular cocoa, go ahead, just make sure you read the notes below as you’ll have to adjust the leavener. Not something I would normally do, but I even went out and bought some out of season strawberries to add a touch of color and fruitiness to the cake. The strawberries totally make this loaf even tastier then it already is. Raspberries would also be epically delicious.
Chocolate Strawberry Loaf
- 1 cup unsweetened soymilk, room temp
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon flax seed, ground
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder (see below for a natural cocoa adjustment)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (optional)
- Additional strawberries and chocolate chips for topping
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with oil and line with parchment paper.
In a measuring cup, mix together the soymilk and apple cider vinegar, set aside to let curdle.
Mix together the flax seed and water until well blended, set aside until gelatinous.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the margarine until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flax seed mixture and beat well, then the espresso powder, soymilk mixture and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt, pour into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spatula until well-blended but do not overmix. Fold in strawberries and optional chocolate chunks.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth batter and top with additional strawberries and chocolate chips or chunks.
Place pan on the lower rack and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, if the top seems like it’s browning too fast, loosely cover with some tinfoil.
Notes: If using regular cocoa powder, you’ll want to use 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and no baking powder.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen