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So, I know I’ve mentioned before that I don’t drink coffee. I couldn’t brew a pot if my life depended on it and, for that matter, I don’t even have the supplies to make an attempt. So, noting that this Chocolate Cake recipe — like many others involving chocolate — called for brewed coffee, I knew I was going to have to resort to other measures. Yup, Starbucks. But, since I don’t drink coffee, I had no idea what to order.

Me: Um, can I get a tall, uh, um, Verona…?

Barista guy: Sure. (Starts to pour coffee.)

Me: Um, is that a dark roast? (It occurs to me that might be too much of a coffee flavour. I think? Isn’t that what dark roast means? Jesus, I need a coffee primer.)

Barista guy: Yup. (pause) Did you want something else?

Me: Uhhhhhh, yes…..? A medium roast…..?

Barista guy: (shrugs and dumps out dark roast, pours new one.)

Me: Um, I’m a coffee neophyte. (Wishes had stopped talking.)

Then, since the coffee had to be hot, I had to drive home immediately and start making the cake. Yes, I’m a baking nerd.

So, I found this recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated web site. I’ve always loved this magazine and now I love their site (thanks to my friend Julie for the birthday subscription!). The videos are especially great because sometimes you really do need to see what they are talking about. But it does crack me up that all the clips are about three minutes long. Anything looks easy when a) professional chefs do it b) they do it in three minutes.

But this recipe, actually is easy.

The other thing I liked about this recipe was that it isn’t unheard of to have all of these ingredients on hand. (Except, for me, coffee, of course.) And it bakes super quickly and it doesn’t really need frosting, so this would be easy to whip up any time.

This cake is really fantastic on it’s own, so I don’t suggest icing it. But I do feel that a little dollop of sweetened whipped cream is the perfect addition. It, possibly ironically, cuts some of the richness but without taking away from the chocolate-y goodness of the cake.

Chopped Chocolate

Chocolate and cocoa

Chocolate, egg and mayonnaise

Whisked together

The batter

What was left over

Chocolate cake topped with whipped cream

Easy Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Fry’s)
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
  • 1 cup fresh black coffee, hot
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • whipped cream — for serving, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8″-square baking dish with nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix cocoa and chocolate, then pour hot coffee over and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Whisk in mayonnaise, egg and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour into baking dish, smoothing top before putting in oven. Bake until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack for one to two hours. Serve dusted with icing sugar or a little lightly sweetened whipping cream.