Rick Perry may be gobbling up some Texas-sized attention these days, but we Texas vegans have something he just can't imagine. We've got the legacy of Shirley Wilkes-Johnson's decades-long project to create the best darn vegan recipes this side of the Rio Grande. Perry needs to posture, and those 22 pairs of cowboy boots he's been given don't seem to be helping him these days (supposedly he has resorted to some much more comfortable black tennis shoes). But, hey, even though Shirley died before we could get a picture of the two of us in our vegan cowboy boots, all is not lost. For more than two years Shirley and I worked on identifying her best of the best recipes. This blog inaugurates my posting of these recipes with the permission of her right hand man, friend, partner, and creative cook, himself, Ben Johnson.
As I said in my remembrance of her, Shirley never met a recipe she couldn't veganize. Her instincts and taste were exquisite. She wanted to create down home, stick-to-your-ribs, traditional and contemporary Texas recipes. I miss her, especially on Mondays, the day we used to talk about vegan cooking and her recipes. But her legacy is secure, and we've got some gobbling, chewing, tasting, and enjoying to do! Bring your Texas-size appetites because it's vegan, y'all.
|Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake|
Shirley called this “a rather decadent old fashioned recipe.” Shirley always used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread for the margarine. Many concerns have been raised about where Earth Balance gets its palm oil. Shirley consulted Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Colleen concluded that if you buy organic Earth Balance you are supporting sustainable farming practices that are not destroying the habitats of Orangutans.
Shirley recommends using a jelly roll pan, which is approximately 10x15-inches with 1-inch sides. It’s like a large cookie sheet. I went out and purchased one just to make this cake. Shirley says you can use a 9 x 13-inch pan, but the cake will be thicker. I think the jelly roll pan is the way to go. It makes the cake just the right thickness. One morning this summer, I made three cakes for a family celebration. EVERYONE loved it (even those who didn’t think they would). But how could they not? It’s a recipe from Shirley Wilkes-Johnson, and it’s vegan y’all.
1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegan margarine
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
Chocolate Pecan Icing (see below)
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan. (Shirley used PAM spray; I use Spectrum spray.)
2. In a mixing cup, combine the soy milk and the apple cider vinegar, and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking soda and mix well; set aside.
4. In a medium saucepan, mix together margarine, cocoa, and water. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring often. Pour over flour and sugar mixture. Add vanilla to the soymilk and vinegar mixture, and then whisk into other ingredients. Turn batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately frost top of hot cake with Chocolate Pecan Icing. Usually, you wait until a cake cools before icing it - but not in this recipe.
Let cool then cut into squares.
Chocolate Pecan Icing:
1/2 cup vegan margarine softened
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup soy milk
1 (1-lb.) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
In a medium bowl, beat together margarine, cocoa, and soy milk with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes - or you can use a food processor. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat on high speed until well blended. Stir in pecans.