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Chocolate “Snack” Cake

February 9, 2012

I’m going to start this post off with a story.  I first made this cake back in 2005 in my Peace Corps village.  It was starting to get cold outside, everywhere was super-muddy all the time, I wasn’t allowed to leave my site for 3 months (or something absurd like that) and all I really wanted was some chocolate cake.  Luckily they gave us a cookbook when we first arrived in Moldova, and there was a recipe for “chocolate snack cake” that looked like it would be pretty easy to whip up.  Heck, I could even make the frosting!  My host mom had eggs, oil, flour, sugar, and vinegar, so all I needed was baking soda, cocoa powder and the local equivalent of vanilla (strange packets with crystals that smelled like vanilla), all of which I found at the store nearby.  I made the cake, frosted it, and proudly served it to my host family.

Unfortunately I wasn’t careful about the kind of oil I used.  My host family only had unrefined sunflower oil, and the flavor overpowered everything.  It was disgusting.  If you’ve never smelled or tasted unrefined sunflower oil, it’s hard to imagine how bad it was, but it was truly nasty.  My host mom told me numerous times that it was the vanilla that made it taste bad and that I shouldn’t have put so much in.  I wanted to be like, “Lady, are you crazy?  It’s your stupid disgusting oil that messed up the whole darn thing!!!” but since I had the Romanian speech capabilities of a 2-year old, instead I was like, “No.  I don’t know.”  But you know what?  Even though it was gross, I ate it anyways.  I wanted chocolate cake that badly.

It turns out that when this cake is made with flavorless oil, it’s really tasty, not to mention extremely easy to make.  I added some chocolate chips (I couldn’t help myself) and made a nice chocolate glaze that dripped down the sides.  I served this cake for dessert a couple nights ago when some friends came over for dinner, and you’d never guess the recipe came from my stained, dirty little Peace Corps cookbook!

Chocolate Snake Cake
From the Peace Corps Moldova cookbook

Why this is called Chocolate Snack Cake rather than Chocolate Cake or Chocolate Dessert Cake is beyond me.  Maybe it’s because it’s easy to make, like snacks are supposed to be.  Also, I have made this cake with skim milk, and I’ve also used water– either way works but milk is better.  If you did half milk and half cream or something it would probably be even better!  This recipe makes a lot of batter.  It’s perfect for a large bundt cake, a 9×13-inch cake, or you could probably make three 9-inch round cakes.

Dry Bowl
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Wet Bowl
2 cups milk or water
3 eggs
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup corn oil (or flavorless sunflower oil…)

1 cup chocolate chips, tossed in flour with excess flour shaken off

Heat oven to 350F, and grease your cake pan(s).

Mix the dry bowl ingredients together, and mix the wet bowl ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until there are no clumps. Stir in chocolate chips, and pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake 50-65 min for a bundt pan (mine took 65), 35-50 min for a 9×13 pan, and maybe 20-30 min for the round pans.

Chocolate Glaze
From the Peace Corps Moldova cookbook

The glaze was a little sweet for my taste, so next time I would just do unsweetened chocolate.

2 oz chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt

Combine chocolate, sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Pour in boiling water and stir over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes, until thick and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Add butter, vanilla and salt.  Beat well.

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