As I've said before, I'm not much for chocolate. Still, that doesn't stop me from wanting to like chocolate. I'm as entranced as anybody by the sight of tall chocolate layer cake or a small, perfectly egg-shaped truffle. Flipping through Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess, a Christmas gift from the same co-worker who brought me the macadamia nuts (and she says she's not trying to drop hints), I kept resting on the photo of this cake again and again until I gave in and made it the other evening after work.
Total Calories: 4045; Yield: 8-10 slices; Whisks: 3. Ingredients: 1 cup soft unsalted butter; 1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar; 2 large eggs, beaten; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled; 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour; 1 tsp baking soda; 1 cup plus 2 tbs boiling water; 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease and line the loaf pan, (seriously, grease and line. It's a sticky cake, you can see how much of it stuck to the greased parchment paper). Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating well. Fold in the melted chocolate; blend well but do not overbeat. Mix the baking soda and flour and alternately add to chocolate mixture with boiling water until you have a smooth, fairly liquid batter. Pour into greased pan and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 F and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. The cake will still be slightly damp, so a cake tester won't come out entirely clean. Place on rack and let cool completely before removing cake from pan. Tips/Comments: Nigella used the word "squidgy" to describe how the completed cake will look, which I can only take to mean damp, which my cake was. I had to cook it for an additional 15 minutes at 325, but that may just have been my oven, which is slightly off. The cake will collapse in the center because it's so dense. I removed it from the pan the next morning, having left it to cool on the counter, completely uncovered, overnight. It is a very damp cake; it wasn't uncooked, as there was no chocolate ooze, but it was extremely moist. It reminded me a bit of an old cake recipe I used to make in college, where you mixed all the dry ingredients in the pan, then poured boiling water all over it, it'd never come out spring like regular cakes. Fudgy, a co-worker called it. The photo in Nigella's cookbook didn't have it looking as fudgy, hers looked decidedly soft. Regardless, it didn't affect the taste, as everybody in the office munched on it all day. One person cut a slice in thirds, stacked it with sliced strawberries and poured some half-and-half over it. It looked heavenly, though I'd rather opt for sweetened whipped cream if you have it.