Maria's Rich Chocolate Cake or Cupcakes

Maria's Rich Chocolate Cake
Recipe contributed by Maria Flores

Makes 1 frosted cake


  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 parts white sugar, 1 part brown sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup almond milk or other nondairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup to 6 tablespoons boiling water, as needed


  • 1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For cupcakes grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners, or for cake grease a cake or loaf pan. In a bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flours, cocoa, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together wet ingredients: milk, oil, tofu and vanilla extract. Mix wet mixture into dry mixture. Slowly mix in 1/4 cup boiling water and add more if needed until consistency is thin, like applesauce. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes or cake bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan 5 minutes or cake 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. When completely cool, make frosting:  in a bowl beat together tofu, sugar, cocoa and vanilla until fluffy. Frost cupcakes or cake, and serve.

NYC Halal Cart-Style Chick’n or Tofu, Yellow Rice & White Sauce

NYC Halal Cart-Style Chick’n, Yellow Rice & White Sauce
Serves 6

*VEGAN YOGURT SUBSTITUTE (for use in recipes, makes 1 cup)

  • 1 cup drained silken tofu
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

WHITE SAUCE  (Makes 2 cups)

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Yogurt Substitute* or commercial plain nondairy yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 rounded tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • Salt, optional, to taste

**HALAL SEASONING   (Makes 1 tablespoon)

•  3/4 tsp coriander
•  1/4 tsp cardamom
•  1/4 tsp turmeric
•  3/4 tsp cumin
•  1/4 tsp cinnamon
•  1/8 tsp allspice
•  3/4 tsp paprika
•  1/4 tsp cloves
•  1/8 tsp cayenne
•  1/4 tsp black pepper
•  1/4 tsp nutmeg
•  1/8 tsp ginger


  • 1/2 cup Vegan Yogurt Substitute * or commercial plain nondairy yogurt 
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Halal Seasoning**
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 packages Gardein Chick’n Scallopini (8 cutlets), thawed, OR 1 block extra-firm tofu cut into 8 slices, drained and pressed*
  • High-heat oil (canola, safflower, grapeseed)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups white long-grain or Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken-flavor vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • Hot sauce

FOR VEGAN YOGURT SUBSTITUTE:  In a blender combine tofu, lemon juice and red wine vinegar; blend until thoroughly combined. Remove 1/2 cup and set aside for marinade.

FOR WHITE SAUCE:  To the 1/2 cup Vegan Yogurt Substitute in blender add mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and pepper; blend until smooth. Season with salt if desired. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

FOR MARINADE:  Return reserved Vegan Yogurt Substitute to blender. Add lemon juice, oregano, Halal Seasoning, garlic and olive oil; blend until smooth. Transfer marinade to a Ziploc bag, add chick’n or tofu, seal, turn to coat, and marinate 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

FOR YELLOW RICE:  In a heavy 4- to 6-quart saucepan having a tight-fitting lid, melt margarine over medium heat. Add turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is fully coated and lightly toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Keeping covered, remove from heat and let rest until water is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

FOR CHICK’N:  Preheat a 12-inch skillet, add high-heat oil and heat until shimmering. Remove chick’n from marinade, add to skillet and brown on both sides. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Transfer chick’n to a dish and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices. If serving immediately, return chick’n to skillet with all remaining marinade, and stir to coat cut edges. If preparing in advance, return chick’n to bag with marinade and refrigerate.

TO SERVE:  Divide rice among 6 plates. Alongside rice and add lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Place chick’n over rice and top with white sauce. Serve immediately, passing hot sauce and extra white sauce at the table.

Vegan Yogurt (for use in recipes)

Makes 1/2 cup

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) drained silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Halal Seasoning

Makes 1 tablespoon

  • 3/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger

Blackout Cupcakes

Blackout Cupcakes
Makes 20 cupcakes 

  • 2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

Blackout Cupcakes
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup vegan chocolate chips 

Make cupcakes & cake crumb topping:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin tins with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl whisk together coconut milk, sugar, canola oil, vinegar, and vanilla. In another bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner until 2/3 full (about 1/4 cup each). Bake 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Place 4 cupcakes in a food processor and whir into crumbs to make crumb topping; set aside.

Meanwhile, make pudding:  In a cup whisk cornstarch with cold water and vanilla until smooth; set slurry aside. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat combine sugar, cocoa powder and salt and gradually add almond milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Heat and stir until gently steaming but do not boil. Reduce heat to very low, add chocolate chips, and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until chips are fully melted. Stir slurry once more, then, whisking, add it to the pan. Heat on medium-low, whisking continuously, until pudding thickens. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and allow to cool at room temperature 20 minutes.

Assemble cupcakes:  Place some pudding in a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Insert tip into the top of a cupcake to about halfway down. Squeeze pudding into cupcake until the top cracks, then pull out the tip and continue squeezing pudding over the top surface for icing. Continue until all cupcakes are filled and iced, refilling bag as needed. Refrigerate unused pudding (about 2 cups) for another use. Top cupcakes with cake crumbs. Refrigerate cupcakes 1 hour before serving.