Recently I needed a last-minute dessert to bring to a friend's house. I had picked up a copy of Fine Cooking's Chocolate magazine and had been itching to try one of the recipes, so I decided to start there in my search for ideas. This cake caught my eye as the introduction said it was super easy to make but delicious enough for company - just what I needed! As I skimmed the recipe I saw that the cake was made entirely by hand and that I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Plus, the butter is melted, which is one of my favorite things to see in a recipe as I really hate bringing butter to room temperature. One of the other nice things about the cake is that it's adaptable - it can be made in either an 8 or 9 inch pan, you can choose to drizzle ganache over the top or leave it plain and I didn't think of it when I made this cake, but I bet a peanut butter frosting would be delicious!
I baked my cake in an 8-inch pan and topped it with leftover ganache from the s'mores cupcakes I'd made a few days earlier. My friend's 2-year old son was the first to sample the cake and declared it a success! He even ate a bit of the cake, which is saying something, as he almost always eats only the frosting off of cupcakes/cake I bring him before handing the cake portion back to me and requesting a second :) I thought the cake was great - very moist and definitely something I could see eating plain in the future if I didn't have a reason to dress it up with the ganache. When I went to Fine Cooking's site to look for an online link, I saw that this recipe actually comes from Alice Medrich so if you're a fan of her recipes you'll definitely want to give this one a chance.
Fastest Fudge Cake with Ganache Drizzle
from Fine Cooking Chocolate! (recipe can also be found here)
4 1/2 oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 oz (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup ganache drizzle (recipe below) (optional)
With a rack in the lower third of the oven, preheat oven to 350 F. Place a round of parchment in the bottom of an 8x2 or 9x2 round cake pan and then grease it with butter or spray with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the brown sugar using a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until the flour is moistened. Pour the hot water over the batter and stir gently until incorporated. The batter will be smooth.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes if you use a 9-inch pan or 35-40 minutes if you use an 8-inch pan. Let the cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes then run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert the pan to remove the cake. Remove the parchment (if you used it) and turn the cake right side up to cool completely.
With the cake still on the rack, set it over a baking sheet or a piece of foil or parchment paper to catch the drips. Pour the warm ganache over the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it over the top and down the sides of the cake. Let set for about an hour before serving.
1/2 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream; more as needed
granulated sugar (optional)
Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate is melted and smooth. (If you use a 70% bittersweet chocolate the ganache might be thick - just add more cream, one tablespoon at a time, to thin it until you reach your desired consistency. Also, if you use a bittersweet chocolate but want a slightly more sweet ganache, you can add a couple of teaspoons of sugar when you add the hot cream.)