Haunted Halloween Layer Cake

This one takes a lot of work - and a lot of planning ahead. Have fun! Chocolate Cake 3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 1 ½ teaspoon xanthan gum) 2 cups sugar 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups cold coffee or water 1 cup canola oil ¼ cup white or apple cider vinegar 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract Frosting 1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening 3 cups powdered sugar 2 to 5 tablespoons soy, almond, or rice milk Natural orange food coloring, a few drops Chocolate Ganache 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free) ¼ cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring 2 tablespoons canola oil Icing 1 cup powdered sugar 2-3 tablespoons water To make the Chocolate Cake Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9- x 13-inch pan and line the bottoms with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix. Fill each prepared cake pan evenly with batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it. Be sure to rotate the cakes halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes completely before assembly. To make the Frosting Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon nondairy milk at a time, as needed, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. You may not need to use all of the nondairy milk. Add food coloring 1 small drop at a time until it reaches the desired color. Beat on high for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy. To make the Chocolate Ganache: Melt chocolate chips and coconut milk in a double boiler or microwave. Whisk in oil until smooth. To make the Icing Whisk powdered sugar, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until a thick icing has formed. To assemble the cake Once the cakes are completely cooled, run a knife around the inside edge of each cake pan to loosen, and gently unmold the cake. Peel off the parchment paper and slice the dome off the top of each cake. Place one cake on a cardboard cake circle or serving plate, and spread a generous layer of frosting on top of the cake. Place the second cake on top of the first and spread a generous layer of frosting on top. I like to leave the sides unfrosted. Slowly spoon the ganache, a little at a time, over the top layer of the cake in the center, spreading slightly until it just begins to drip down the edges. You may not need to use all of the ganache. Fill a small plastic bag with the icing and cut a very small snip in the bottom corner of the bag. Pipe a small 2-inch circle of icing on the center of the top of the cake. Next, pipe a larger circle around the first circle, and then another larger circle around the middle circle. You will have 3 rings of icing on top of the cake. Drag the tip of a knife or toothpick from the center circle all the way to the edge of the cake. Repeat this around the cake 3 or 4 times until you have the desired spider web effect. You’re done!

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