Well, my stepdaughters left the other day. It’s very quiet and lonely without them. I really enjoyed cooking and baking for them because they love everything I make and if that’s not a confidence booster then I don’t know what is. My son and I did a little back-to-school shopping today so I didn’t have much time to plan out a menu. I looked through my trusty America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book for an easy dessert that I could make today. This Pantry Chocolate Cake looked promising because it was fairly quick to put together and the best part is that I had all the ingredients on hand. In the book, this recipe is labeled as great for beginners so it isn’t complex.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
Pantry Chocolate Cake
This cake can be served plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or iced with a quick frosting. The frosting recipe follows the cake recipe. You can also stir in 1 cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips into the batter at the end of step 2 to make this cake extra chocolaty.
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee (optional)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil. Whisk the cocoa and the boiling water together in a small bowl. Let the mixture cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together. In a medium bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, egg, vanilla, and cooled cocoa mixture together. Stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
3. Give the batter a final stir with a rugger spatula to make sure it is completely mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter.
4. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, 1 to 2 hours.
Quick Chocolate Frosting
Makes enough to frost an 8-inch cake or an 8-inch pan of brownies
After the cake has cooled for about 1 hour, melt 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil together in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Cool the mixture until barely warm, about 5 minutes, then spread evenly over the cake or brownies with a spatula. Continue to let the cake cool until the topping is set, 1 to 2 hours. If your kitchen is too warm for the frosting to set (like mine was) then place cake in fridge for 10 to 20 minutes to set the frosting.