Like so many of you, I have a massive collection of recipes, both savory and sweet, I'd like to try someday. Since I started making weekly meal plans several months ago, I've actually been making decent headway on the savory list. I've been doing less baking than ever, though, so the sweet list just keeps getting longer and longer. Recently I had a free day and decided to spend it in my kitchen knocking out a few of those dessert recipes. In some ways, it wasn't unlike other days devoted to all things butter and sugar - when all was said and done, I had a sink full of dishes and a layer of flour coating my island...
Unfortunately, I hadn't done a great job of selecting recipes, and had a series of "meh" desserts to show for my efforts. They weren't total flops, but nothing worthy of a calorie splurge, and certainly not anything you'll be seeing here any time soon. It used to drive me crazy when recipes didn't live up to expectations, but I'm better about it now. It happens, and I move on. Shane and I made dinner and spent the next few hours on the couch enjoying a Hangover movie marathon :)
The next day, determined to right the ship, I picked another recipe to try. That recipe was this coffee-cocoa snack cake, and it was a total winner. It's a super simple, no-fuss dessert - a moist, fluffy chocolate cake finished with a simple dusting of powdered sugar. What it lacks in elegance, it more than makes up for in taste. You don't even need a mixer to throw it together - one bowl and a wooden spoon and you're good to go. Don't be afraid if you don't like coffee (I don't!) - despite the fact that the word coffee is in the title and that there's quite a bit of it in the cake, it's not a prominent flavor. It really just boosts the chocolatey-ness (probably not a word, but let's go with it) of the cake. You could always throw a little frosting on top of the cake if you wanted to dress it up, but I really don't think it needs it.
Coffee-Cocoa Snack Cake
from Fine Cooking
10 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (7 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups coffee, cooled to warm (I used instant since we don't have a coffee pot)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour. Line the pan with parchment or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the cake out after baking. Spray the parchment or foil with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to cream them until smooth and light. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue whisking until the batter is smooth and the sugar starts to dissolve, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk to incorporate. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder over the batter then add all of the coffee. Gently whisk the batter until it is smooth and most of the lumps are gone.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Gently shake the pan to spread into an even layer. Bake for 40-42 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then use the parchment or foil overhang to lift the cake from the pan. Set on the rack and let cool completely (you can also cut and serve when it's still slightly warm). Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.