Sometimes I just need a piece of chocolate cake. Just one small piece. I don't want a large, supermarket cake - full of artificial everything and sweetened beyond the human limits of taste. I don't want it seducing me to eat just one more dry slice. I don't need it tempting me, a devious serpent coiled among the apples in my refrigerator. I don't want to hear it slyly hissing, Eat me, eat me, from across the kitchen as I pour my morning coffee. No, I want to eat just one sinfully decadent piece and be done with it. But if I am only going to have just one piece, it had better come from one gloriously rich and indulgently moist cake. Complete, intense satisfaction in just a few bites.
Are you like me? Do you ever want to lose yourself in that one piece, letting the luscious flavour of chocolate, the deep undertones of dark coffee, the enticing aroma of pure vanilla swirl around you like a sacred wisp of incense offered to an ancient god? Heady, intoxicating, yet smooth as silk. If that sounds like what you need right now, this is the cake for you. It's intense but small - perfect for a group of four - and it won't take up residence in you refrigerator. The perfect one time indulgence.
This recipe is an adaptation of my great-grandmother's Devil's Food Cake. I've made it richer, deeper, sexier. The figs are for my husband. A man who's been known to dip whole figs into creamy milk chocolate as a late night snack. And, since figs are rumored to be the forbidden fruit of the garden, what better way to adorn the devil's chocolate cake? Are you tempted . . .
Chocolate Cake with Figs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup all natural, unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee granules
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp baking soda
chocolate icing (recipe below)
14 small dried, figs, cut in half lengthwise (optional)
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter an 8 inch round cake pan. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan. Press it in the pan and butter it as well. Dust the inside of the pan with cocoa powder and set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Mix the milk and vinegar and set aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, coffee, and salt. Beat half the flour into the butter, beat in half the milk mixture. Add the remaining flour followed by the remaining milk and mix until smooth. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, and beat into the batter until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake immediately, for 25 - 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting and garnishing with icing sugar and halved figs.
The Perfect Chocolate Icing
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all natural cocoa
1 1/2 cup icing sugar (plus more for garnish)
4 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Whisk the cocoa into the melted butter. Add the icing sugar and the milk and whisk until smooth (if too dry add a few more drops of milk). Whisk in the vanilla, and use immediately. Store frosted cake in the refrigerator.
*a note on baking. I live in the mountains at 6000 feet. This recipe works very well at high altitude. I haven't tested it at lower elevations, but I'd love to know how it turns out. Please contact me if you need help converting it to lower elevations.