This cake is perfect for people who would rather be eating fudge brownies, but someone won’t let them put candles in and call it a birthday cake. (And why not? I’ve seen cupcakes with candles.) It’s denser than regular chocolate cake, more chocolaty and less sweet. Ooh, I just realized I have some lemon drops left. I’m going to go melt some and pour it on like frosting.
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting baking dish)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
Melt the butter in a large-ish sauce pan. (large-ish: adj Big enough to hold all the ingredients, not just the butter and sugar. Bigger than the small-ish sauce pan in the photo below.) Melt the butter at least halfway before adding the sugar and cocoa, then stir constantly over medium-low heat until everything is melted.
You can just add it all at once, like I did, but then you have to start stirring immediately to keep the sugar from burning. Once it’s smooth and you don’t see any graininess from the sugar, remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda and whisk together. If you don’t get the dry ingredients well mixed — especially the baking soda — you’ll end up with flat spots and huge bubbles in the finished product.
Make sure the butter / sugar / chocolate mixture is cool enough that you can dip a finger in without burning yourself. (“And how am I supposed to do that?” Very carefully.) Mix in the vanilla, eggs and salt.
Add the dry ingredients and the milk to the chocolate in alternating amounts. A little dry, a little milk, etc., stirring after each addition. How much is a little? About a quarter cup.
Last month when I showed what it means to flour a pan, a couple of people mentioned in the comments that you can do this with cocoa powder when you’re doing a chocolate cake. That’s what I did here.
Pour the batter into the “floured” 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick stuck into the tallest part comes out clean.
If you’re in a hurry to get it cut and served, you can pop it out of the dish right away. If you leave it in the dish, as it cools it will pull away from the edges, making it easier to remove.
Put a cutting board on top of the dish and flip it over. This took a little persuasion to pop out, bit it all came out without breaking.
The one way this is slightly better than brownies — aside from being allowed to use it as a birthday cake — is that it doesn’t stick to the knife as you’re cutting it. And it’s better than cake, because you can cut really small pieces without having it crumble on you.
In fact, I cut it so small that after we took out the two dozen we needed to provide for Ana’s kindergarten graduation, there were still a few left.
You can frost it if you want. I’d prefer to add nuts. And I’m going down right now to try the lemon glaze. Let’s see how that goes …
UPDATE: And now I’ve done the glaze.
Chocolate and citrus are … ummm … I’ve got no words for this. All I can say is … mmmmmmmmnnnnnnn.
And that’s it.
Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.