We are hitting the point in our New York tenure when it feels like everyone is starting to migrate to greener pastures, literally. They are leaving for new jobs, and new cities, because their visas ran out before new ones could be processed, for a change of pace, or more space to raise their babies alongside backyard summer tomatoes and chickens. We went to two going away parties last weekend, and I’m sure there will be more to come as more babies are born and circumstances change. While I am not quite ready to write my own “why I’m leaving NY” thinkpiece (which has become it’s own subgenre of internet writing) I read them often and nod in agreement. This city is too competitive, too expensive, too dirty, there is not enough space, and on and on…Sometimes it feels like everything is just a little bit, or a lot harder than it needs to be to live here. I understand when people decide to call it quits.
I made this cake a couple of weeks ago for some friends who were packing up to head out of town for good, and packing up an old life to start a new one is an occasion that requires at least a little chocolate cake. I am always on the hunt for treats that can easily survive a trip on the subway, and this cake is perfect for just that because you can frost it in the pan, shower the top with enough sprinkles to make it look festive, slap a plastic wrap or aluminum foil lid on, and you are ready to go. Better yet, bake it in a cute pan and it would make a perfect housewarming gift for some friends settling in to a new place.
A Very Simple Chocolate Cake
adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen’s The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’
This is a simple cake, a weeknight cake. Something that you could throw together in a fit of chocolate desire after dinner.
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (145 grams) firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons strong coffee (or 2 tablespoons water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (170g) sour cream
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened (or bittersweet) chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoons milk, plus more if necessary
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
fat pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper and exposed pan.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and coffee then add in the sour cream.
Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined, then use a spatula to spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until puffy and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
Set the cake on a rack to cool. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
Add all of the frosting ingredients to a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy, add a bit more milk if necessary. Alternately, Deb makes the frosting in a food processor.
Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake and decorate with a shit-ton of sprinkles. Enjoy immediately! This cake keeps for a couple of days, covered at room temperature.