First off, thanks to everyone for the many wonderful ideas about vegan desserts - I now have a list of things to try out for my many non-dairy-eating friends as well.
For the potluck in question (this afternoon) I decided to go with the chocolate cake made with vinegar. Several people made this recommendation, I figured since there were so many versions floating around - it had to have some redeeming qualities. I used Scharffen Berger cocoa, and apple cider vinegar (since that was all I had.) Let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised - impressed even - and I am a die-hard fan of butter fat. The cake was intensely chocolatey (thanks to the S.B., I suspect), light and moist. True, it lacked some of the richness of a butter and eggs cake - but also the gut-bomb heaviness. It also seemed more cleanly chocolatey tasting to me. I have always had problems with cakes coming out dry and unpleasantly textured - and this one was just lovely. There was just nothing about the cake that said "something's missing" - unlike most low-fat or vegan baked goods that I have tried.
I made the Amazon cake recipe (provided by Thea) in two 9" round layers. For the filling and frosting, I went with the vegan "pudding" recipe provided by
Dipsy. In general, I find tofu pretty revolting and I was a little worried about that beany tofu taste lurking behind the chocolate, but again, I was quite pleased with the results. I used much less tofu than the recipe called for - I figured all I wanted was enough make the melted chocolate (6oz of Scharffen Berger bittersweet - probably would have preferred semi sweet) spreadable and prevent it from re-hardening, so I started off with just a few spoonfuls and added the melted chocolate. This made a nicely spreadable, intensely chocolate frosting with a fudge-y consistency. (It felt almost criminal to be polluting S.B. with tofu - but I consoled myself with the remainder of the 9 oz bar.) I will definitely make this again - I thought it was much better than most buttercreams that I have made and had none of that powdered-sugar ickiness. This didn't make quite enough to frost the entire cake, so I just did the tops of both layers, added some glazed strawberries and stacked 'em up.
It was a hit - among vegans and carnivores alike. I wouldn't say this is going to be my default chocolate cake, but it is perfect for times when you want chocolate for dessert after a heavy meal and want to keep it somewhat on the light side. My next attempt will be the coconut ice "cream", maybe with some grilled mango - yum. I'll let everyone know how it goes.
Thanks again, chowhounds. You all are the best!