I celebrated my birthday with wonderful people atop a forest-covered extinct volcano, enjoying fun conversation and connection. Much gratitude to Megan and everyone who attended for helping to make it happen!
It was also a waffle party. Part of the birthday celebration was a vegan and gluten-free “Ore-gasmic Waffle Cake.” It had five layers of vegan chocolate cake waffles–one for each decade.
Technically, the waffle birthday cake had ten layers if you include the two layers of homemade roasted hazelnut butter, two layers of vegan chocolate mousse, and a layer of vegan coconut whipped cream, fresh blueberries, and candied ginger.
The vegan waffle birthday cake was, of course, inspired by recipes from The Global Vegan Waffle Cookbook and Vegan Chocolate Seduction. I had fun putting it together and sharing it with friends. I called it an “Ore-gasmic” waffle cake because I really like chocolate, and because hazelnuts and blueberries are two of Oregon’s biggest crops. It’s difficult to find locally-grown ingredients this time of year, but it would be fun to make another one when they are in season!
For the waffles, I used the gluten-free version of the Vegan Chocolate Cake Waffles from the revised and expanded second edition of The Global Vegan Waffle Cookbook.
I used a combination of Sunfood organic cacao powder and cocoa powder from the wonderful bulk section of our neighborhood employee-owned WinCo. I keep the latter stored in an old Hershey’s cocoa container, as I sometimes use Hershey’s cocoa as well.
I baked the waffles the night before, around 17 hours before the birthday gathering.
Rice-based waffles tend to retain firmness longer than many wheat-based waffles. Nonetheless, I took several other precautions to help ensure that the waffles didn’t become limp or soggy before the party. I used a blend of about 1/4 olive oil, 1/4 canola oil, and 1/2 melted coconut oil–I included the latter because it hardens as it cools, helping to provide structure. I also baked the waffles slightly longer than usual, but not so much as to burn them.
Immediately after baking, I placed the waffles on metal cooling racks for about an hour to allow remaining moisture to evaporate from the undersides.
I made two batches of waffles. This was just over double what was needed for the cake, but I wanted to make sure there was enough for people to eat. Making extra turned out to be a good decision.
I then sealed the waffles in plastic produce bags, stacked no more than three waffles high to avoid squishing the ones on the bottom, and refrigerated them overnight.
I also made the vegan chocolate mousse, roasted hazelnut butter, and dark chocolate syrup in advance. I ended up making a bit more mousse than what is pictured below. It took some will power to avoid eating too much of the toppings before the party.
Because it was a very cool winter day, I transported the waffles to the site in a backpack. Had it been a hot summer day, I may have used a cooler. I assembled the waffle cake on site, putting on the waffle toppings–roasted hazelnut butter, chocolate mousse, coconut cream whipped topping, blueberries, candied ginger, and deep dark chocolate syrup–shortly before eating.
I was pretty pleased with the flavor and texture of the vegan waffle cake. Others seemed to enjoy it, too. Alongside the five-waffle cake, we placed the remaining toppings and a plate of untopped waffle quarters for guests to top and eat as they wished.
One of the cool features of a waffle cake is that if you align the “split grooves” of the waffle layers when stacking them (the grooves that allow you to cut or tear the waffle into quarters more easily), it’s pretty easy to cut. Then guests can easily take as many waffle/topping layers as they wish from a given quarter.
Here are a few friends’ custom-topped vegan waffle quarters!
I had originally hoped we could view a sunset from atop the dormant volcano of Mount Tabor Park. But nature had something different and even more beautifully interesting in store for us.
Unexpectedly, we were embraced by a wonderful, magical blanket of fog. Some of us lingered in the park as evening approached, enjoying the soft glow of the street lamps through the soft, cool mist, with Douglas Firs towering above us. Quite a treat!
While I talk a lot about waffles on this blog, the best part of these gatherings is the really wonderful people. Because it was planned short notice, I totally understand that some friends were unable to attend. Advance planning was logistically difficult. I’m deeply grateful for those who attended, and for all who have wished me birthday greetings. Thank you!