Off the Map – Chocolate Spice Cake

Sometimes chocolate cake is necessary. Scratch that, frequently chocolate cake is necessary. After a particularly hectic end of the year full of family obligations, work stress, and my apartment’s furnace breaking down, I certainly needed some chocolate. One night I was tired, cranky, and wanted cake, but didn’t want to put in the effort. Sadly, an on-demand, dessert-only app does not yet exist (if any developers out there are interested, this could be the next big thing – call it SugarRush). So, I turned off the Top Gear reruns, moved my bum off the couch, and got to work.

The Bake

For a while now, I’ve wanted to try and turn my favorite spice cookie recipe into a cake. The cookies are delicious, but sometimes rolling up cookies and baking them in batches is too much of a headache to contemplate. First world problems, I know. I wanted the same flavor but less work (are you sensing a theme of general laziness?). My night of desperation was just the kick in the pants I needed to realize this goal. I modified a standard cake recipe by adding more spice, and the result was a dense, almost brownie-like cake that was full of flavor.

The bake is pretty simple. You can make this without using a stand or hand held mixer if you don’t own one (or if you don’t want to clean as many dishes). The chocolate and butter can be melted in the microwave or over the stove. The egg and sugar can be whisked together in a bowl by hand. This cake is also forgiving in terms of bake time. I baked this beauty for 38 minutes.  I could have taken it out earlier for a more moist, smooshy cake or left it in longer for a dryer, more brownie-like texture.

The Moment of Truth

After this, I am not sure I can go back to plain chocolate cake again. Why in the world doesn’t every chocolate cake have some spice in it? I am convinced now, more than ever, that I have been deprived of spices for too long. As my favorite girl band of the 90s said – it’s time to Spice Up Your Life.


The Recipe

The Cake:

1 cup butter

12 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp of salt

1 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

Butter a 10 inch circular cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Small aside – most of the time I completely ignore when recipes call for using parchment paper and I just butter and flour instead.  So take it seriously when I recommend parchment paper.  This cake is very sticky. Either use the parchment paper, or butter and flour the pan heavily.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (if using convection bake, see the note in Austria – Sachertorte about adjusting time or temp). Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large bowl and allow to cool slightly. In a separate small bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved and there is a layer of bubbles on top. Separately mix together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Slowly add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring continuously to avoid curdling the eggs. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate/egg mixture and mix until just combined.

Pour into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is slightly cracked and a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs, but not liquid batter. This cake is delicious without frosting, but if you feel the need for more sugar, serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or (as shown above) sour cream frosting.

Sour Cream Frosting:

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

~2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together butter, sour cream, and vanilla. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until you have a texture to your liking. The frosting I used here was slightly more runny than a typical cake frosting. If you prefer a fluffier frosting add more powdered sugar and butter.

Fun Fact

There are at least 350 different spices in the world. My spice rack only holds a pathetic 25. New Year’s Resolution – more spice!

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