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Simple Chocolate Cake

from Cook’s Illustrated (March/April 2009, pg. 25)


This is a surprising little cake.  The surprising ingredient is mayonnaise.  NOT “salad dressing,” mind you.  No.  The real stuff.  Mayonnaise.  It was a method used in war-times when butter and eggs were scarce so the mayonnaise served as a substitute for those ingredients.  It is definitely simple enough for a week-night dessert.


1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or “Special Dark”)
2 ounces dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (chopped fine)
1 cup hot coffee (or equivalent mixture of hot water and espresso powder)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

You will also need:

8 inch square cake pan
Non-stick cooking spray
1 large mixing bowl
1 small-medium mixing bowl
Confectioners’ (powdered) sugar for garnish



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare cake pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In smaller bowl, combine cocoa powder and chopped chocolate; pour hot coffee over cocoa/chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.  Let this mixture cool for several minutes then whisk in mayonnaise, egg and vanilla.  Pour mayonnaise/chocolate mixture into flour mixture and stir until combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth it all around.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out with few crumbs attached after being inserted into the center of the cake.  Note:  the cake will have a nice rounded domed middle and cracks on the top.  This is normal.

Allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for 1-2 hours.  Turn cake out  onto serving platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar to serve.