Sorry. I’ve been a neglectful blogger, leaving you with videos instead of recipes and not sticking around to chat much. There’s a reason for that – it’s called Rolling Spoon, and it’s a new website I just launched on Monday with my friend Elizabeth, who in a previous life was a music writer/editor/teenage ‘zine-maker. It’s a place where food and music intersect – we figured that the best way to get to know someone is by sitting down to a meal with them, so why not host dinner parties with our favourite musicians and bands, and document them? And ask to peek into their fridges, talk about food memories and get into the kitchen and cook together? Fun, right? We thought so.
So there’s that. But I’ve been wanting to tell you about this cake I made last weekend, a cake that should have been written off as a disaster, but it was too delicious. It’s a reminder to not judge a book by its cover, as it were. The batter was thin, and made with water of all things. It crawled up and over the sides of the pan and tried to escape from the oven, leaving (delicious) almost-burnt puddles on the baking sheet. I tweeted that I was making it, and a few asked if they should follow suit. My initial reaction, as I picked baked-on chocolate waterfall from the edge of the pan, was probably not.
And then I tasted it.
It’s an ugly (as far as cakes go), disastrous-looking, delicious damp cake. (This word – damp – is how Nigella described it, and I loved the use of the word in relation to cake. The memory of a damp chocolate cake stuck long enough for me to instantly recognize it when I saw that it had become one of Molly‘s old-sock recipes – and yet I had never made one. It’s half brownie, half cake, baked in a loaf pan. I don’t know what it is, but it’s worth making. It’s a perfect sort of chocolate thing to have sitting on your kitchen table if you, like me, are the type to slice off a nibble each time you pass by.
It was just as good – better, even? – the next day. And spread with peanut butter? Please.
Damp Chocolate Brownie Cake
adapted from Nigella’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess, by way of Remedial Eating
1 cup butter, at room temp.
1 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, preferably dark
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 tsp. instant espresso or coffee granules
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter or spray a 9×5″ loaf tin, and line the width with a strip of parchment, overhanging the long sides by a few inches on each side for easy removal later.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. In a small dish, stir together the vanilla, instant espresso and salt; add to the butter mixture and mix to combine.
Stir in the melted, slightly cooled chocolate, then add the flour and baking soda, stirring just to combine. Add the boiling water slowly and carefully, beating on low or stirring by hand to prevent sloshing. It will have the consistency of buttermilk – far thinner than a regular cake batter. Pour into the lined tin, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325° F and continue to cook for another 15-25 minutes. You can tell it’s done when the middle of the top is matte; no longer shiny, loose and wobbly. As Molly puts it, a knife in the center will not return the standard dry crumb, but neither do you want a long streak of batter – very damp crumbs are ideal.
Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack – it will sink in the middle, and it’s supposed to. Lift it out using the parchment “handles” and serve in slices. Serves 8 or so.