I always thought shortening was evil. That is until I found out that my favorite food in the world (birthday cake frosting) was made of shortening and confectioners’ sugar and maybe vanilla (I like my birthday cakes all white – no chocolate for me) – and that it makes for a very flaky pie crust. But still, it’s one thing to buy a cake or pie from a bakery and another to use the stuff at home. So why am I devoting a post to shortening?
For one thing, I’m talking about organic shortening. It’s not hydrogenated oils (evil) like the kind you find in supermarkets. It’s palm oil (the oil from a palm seed) and nothing else – more importantly – it’s not hydrogenated (a process that turns oil that is naturally liquid at room temperature into shortening that is solid at room temperature). The flavor is very neutral which is a great deal better than the other options. As for its health benefits or lack thereof – I’m not too sure as I’ve seen some articles that praise it and others that say it’s downright bad for you. But to be honest now that “science” has declared butter and eggs okay, I’m not sure anyone knows anything about foods anymore.
I’ve never really been thrilled with my butter replacement choices since going dairy free. Ghee (clarified butter) has a flavor that overwhelms the delicate flavors of baked goods. Non-dairy margarine has too stuff in it and I’m not overly in love with the flavor. Coconut oil leaves everything tasting slightly coconutty and further the consistency can be tricky depending on the room temperature – in the summer it’s liquid and in the winter it’s rock solid. Oil tends to be…oily. But this particular shortening is solid but soft like butter that’s been allowed to soften.
I’ve been playing around with this shortening since I purchased it and find it to work pretty well in any of the recipes that I’ve used coconut oil in. Here’s the Chocolate Torte made with shortening. It’s denser and chocolate-ier than the original I posted last year. Here’s the recipe:
The BEST Chocolate Torte You’ve Ever Eaten and it’s Gluten and Dairy-Free
The recipe calls for wine. I find the very sweet cherry or blackberry wines from Manischewitz to be perfect for this cake. In a pinch, the extra heavy malaga or concord grape wines will do as well. If you do not have access to these wines, or if you don’t want to use wine at all, you can substitute 6 tablespoons of pomegranate, or cherry, or grape juice with 2 tablespoons of sugar mixed in.
If you are not dairy-free, you can substitute butter for the coconut oil and reduce the cocoa to 1/2 cup.
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup organic shortening coconut oil
3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Manischewitz cherry, or blackberry, or extra heavy malaga wine or 6 tablespoons juice + 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
plus additional cocoa for sprinkling
Chocolate curls or raspberries for garnish, if desired
1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease an 8-inch springform pan with coconut oil. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan and regrease.
8. Remove from pan, but leave on metal tray and dust cake with additional cocoa powder
9. Place onto a serving plate and garnish with raspberries, if using. (you can leave it on the metal bottom or take it off. I don’t bother to remove the wax paper, I just lift the slice off of it before transferring to individual plates.)
Serve with sorbet or dairy-free whipped cream if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months.)
Makes one 8-inch cake