This past weekend, I made two desserts, as I was having two dinner parties. Our friends were coming to dinner on Saturday night in the country and both boys and their girlfriends were coming to dinner on Sunday in the city. Additionally, my husband was going to visit his 94-year-old mother in Baltimore on Monday and needed to take sweets to her. It’s what she craves and I aim to please. So on Saturday I made both desserts.
One was a favorite Christmas cookie in our family that I just cut into larger squares for dessert. Our boys were saying, “Mommm, a little early don’t you think?” And then one of the girlfriends said at the dinner table, “OMG, these are so good, I could eat these until I vomit!” Now how’s that for a compliment? She said she ate two for breakfast the next morning and then wanted the recipe. That was for the Hello Dolly Squares. And then the other dessert I made was this amazing recipe from Mollie Katzen for her Made-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake. I heard her speak a few weeks ago at a Hudson Union Society event and someone in the audience brought up this recipe, which she then talked about and read aloud.
It is so quick, easy and truly amazing that it works. It is even vegan!!! – which I personally don’t care about, but if you do, then this is for you!
The key is to mix the dry ingredients incredibly well with a whisk. Use a clear glass pan and pick it up to inspect the bottom and sides to make sure you don’t see any globs of white flour or dark cocoa still lingering around. Then when you add the liquids, slowly stir and whisk and scrape and scrape and whisk until all is combined and smooth. No lumps allowed!! Simple, delicious, and no extra bowls to clean. This is a super moist cake that tastes like a lot more work. You can pull this off with ease on any weeknight for surprise guests. Just make sure you always have cocoa around.
MADE-IN-THE-PAN CHOCOLATE CAKE – serves 9
1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cider vinegar or white vinegar
Preheat oven to 325°F. Have ready an 8-inch-square glass baking pan. Put flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking soda into the pan. Mix it together thoroughly with a whisk and spatula making sure all is blended together and no white flour clumps are visible. Lift up the pan and check to make sure all is blended on the bottom and especially in the corners.
Add water, oil, vanilla extract and vinegar. Stir slowly with a whisk in small circles to blend. As it becomes a batter, mash, scrape, and stir with whisk and spatula until smooth, particularly scraping and blending from the corners of the pan.
Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula, and spread it evenly. Clean the edges, then bake for 30 minutes.
Cool completely in the pan, on a rack. Dust with some powdered sugar (there is no need for frosting) and cut into squares.
I served it with LOVE, a dollop of ice cream and a few raspberries for a really pretty and super easy dessert.