Yesterday, I went to the college where I will be starting baking school in the fall. I received an email last week asking if I’d like to attend an information session entitled: Are You Ready For College? Like J-Lo, I go hard or go home, so I immediately signed up for the session. Sure, I’m currently teaching in a post-secondary program, but being a student again is a totally different thing. And since I’d never actually stepped foot on the campus before, I figured it would be the first step in
winning at school becoming a good student.
Turns out only three other people were wondering if they are ready for college next fall. Two teenagers and a man in his mid-twenties sat at a long conference table beside me. The two session leaders discussed the diversity in age at the college. They were looking at me the whole time, and kind of nodding. They also discussed how that diversity impacts classes – how there might be a mature student up front waving a hand in the air and asking a question every five minutes, but that’s awesome, and not annoying. The two teenagers glanced my way. Then session leaders talked about the importance of time management – especially for people planning to work while in school, or those with children. And again, they were looking at me. I resisted the urge to yell, “wait, kids suck! I DON’T have kids. Are ya with me, homies? Bounce wit me.” Because I didn’t want to intimidate the teenagers with my awesomeness.
I asked if a Justin Bieber binder might be a good idea for taking notes, and the session leaders nodded and said that yes, it would probably be a good idea. They gave us brochures and pamphlets. And then they asked if we’d like to see where we would be studying. I blurted out, “oh my god, yes,” before any of the youngsters could protest. So, after touring the plumbing and power engineering shops, I got a tour of the kitchens and the bakery. Oh, AND THE CHOCOLATE ROOM. And by the end of the session, I thought: I’m totally going to do this.
So, to celebrate the fact that I am, indeed, ready for college, I give you this cake. This perfectly imperfect cake. This cake isn’t structured or refined. And like me, it won’t win a beauty pageant. It’s old school. It is a hot mess. It uses a microwave, mofo. But I’m pretty sure you’re gunna like it. It’ll grow on you just like I did. Because it’s delightful.
This cake is basically a reversed lava cake. It is sweet and chocolatey. Perfect with a tall glass of milk. We’re talkin’ about a one-bowl chocolate cake, topped with what is essentially hot, chocolate pudding. You need to assemble the cake while it’s still warm, and then you’re going to slather the topping on while it’s still hot. It will seal in the moisture. And that topping will run all over the serving plate.
Don’t worry. I think you’re ready for it.
. . .
Hot Mess Chocolate Cake
recipe: adapted from a recipe with unknown original source
The secret to this moist cake is the pudding-like topping which should be applied while the cakes are still warm and the sauce is still hot. The cake should be assembled on the intended serving plate.
Yields one 2-layer 9-inch cake.
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk
For the filling/topping:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon butter
Begin by making the cakes:
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. (To line with parchment paper, trace the pans onto a sheet of parchment paper and cut out. Trim to fit in bottom of pans.) Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine all of the above listed cake ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, oil, baking powder, vanilla, eggs and milk) in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for 2-3 minutes to combine, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl midway through. Divide batter equally between the the two prepared baking pans and bake 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool for five minutes on racks until removing from pans. (Don’t forget to remove the parchment paper as well.) As the cakes are cooling, prepare the topping.
To make the topping:
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and boiling water in large microwave-safe bowl, mixing well to combine. Microwave for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. The mixture will thicken and rise – it will become almost pudding-like.
Once the mixture has thickened, remove from microwave and stir in the vanilla and butter. Allow to cool for a minute or two before applying to the still-warm cakes. Stir the mixture before applying to the cakes.
To assemble the cake:
Place one of the cakes on a serving platter or cake stand. The topping is runny, so I would recommend using a platter or stand with a lip to prevent spill-over. Spoon some of the filling onto the top of the cake and spread. Let it absorb into the cake a little. Spoon on more filling and gently spread until you’ve got a good coating of filling on the cake. Place the second cake on top of the first, pressing gently to secure. Allow to sit for a minute so the cakes adhere. Then begin spooning the topping over top of the cakes, gently spreading with a spatula, and allowing it to run over the sides. The topping is runny – spoon/drizzle in small quantities until you feel the cake can take no more! Allow to cool.
Extra topping? Pour it over some ice cream! (Yum!)