This deeply chocolaty and uber-moist chocolate snack cake is as perfect for the 12-and-under set after school as it is for dessert following an impromptu weeknight dinner party. It is assembled quickly and bakes up in less than 30 minutes.
Topped with a billowy and tangy cream cheese frosting and sporting a name that includes the word “snack,” this easy recipe will likely become your go-to when cake is requested, required or craved.
Make ahead: The cake can be loosely covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
FOR THE CAKE
2/3 cup packed (130 grams) light brown sugar
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 grams) cake flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons (2 grams) espresso powder
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup boiling water
2/3 cup heavy cream
FOR THE FROSTING
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) table salt
3 1/2 cups (410 grams) confectioners’ sugar
Multicolored sprinkles (optional, but highly encouraged)
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-by-8-by-2-inch square pan with softened butter or cooking oil spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine the light brown and granulated sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder onto a sheet of parchment paper, then use the paper to pour the dry ingredients into the bowl. (Or sift them directly into the bowl.) Beat on medium speed, until thoroughly incorporated.
Reduce the speed to low; add the egg and egg yolk, beating to incorporate after each addition, and scraping with a flexible spatula, as needed. Add the vanilla extract and the oil, beating to blend well. Finally, add the boiling water and heavy cream; once they are incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds, until smooth. The batter will be quite thin.
Transfer to the pan, being mindful to scrape out every last bit of batter, as you will be using the bowl again to make the frosting. Bake (middle rack) for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back after the first 15 minutes, and checking for doneness with a toothpick at the center after 20 minutes. The cake is done when the tester comes out with a moist crumb or two and the cake is just beginning to come away from the sides of the pan.
Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 minutes, then run a paring knife around the edges to release it. Invert onto a serving plate to cool completely.
For the frosting: Rinse the same mixing bowl and paddle attachment or beaters, then add the butter and cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and salt, then beat again on medium-high speed.
Reduce the speed to low. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, sifting it over if it is lumpy and beating until incorporated. Stop to scrape the bowl with a flexible spatula, as needed. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium, and beat briefly until smooth. Do not overmix, or the frosting will lose structure.
Use a generous hand and an offset spatula to spread the top of the cooled cake with the frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, if using. If you do not frost generously, you may have leftover frosting (lucky you). Cut just before serving.
From cookbook author Jessie Sheehan.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to email@example.com.
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Calories: 520; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 14 g; Cholesterol: 90 mg; Sodium: 340 mg; Carbohydrates: 69 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 56 g; Protein: 4 g.