Hot Water Chocolate Cake Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Believe it or not, there are people who don’t particularly like chocolate. Perhaps on Valentine’s Day, their loved ones send pralines, or lemon drops, or caramels. That leaves more chocolate for the rest of us.

Thank goodness, my island neighbor and friend Pat Mitchell doesn’t wait for Valentine’s Day to make this cake. She brings it as a birthday cake to our Sewing Circle. At potlucks when I see Pat carrying in this cake, my heart leaps up a little. It is so good. She kindly shared the recipe which I have tweaked ever so slightly, not because it isn’t perfectly fine as is, but because I like tweaking to see if I can squeeze out a little more flavor.

The surprise here is the hot water. When you add the water called for, the batter is alarmingly thin, looking more like something to drink than to bake. In fact, I was concerned enough that I called Pat up to check on it. She said, “This isn’t like other cake batters.” So I proceeded.

The two things I tweaked was to replace a bit of the flour with cocoa just to amp up the chocolate a bit. And I added a teaspoon of instant espresso coffee powder to the hot water because I read somewhere that even if you can’t taste the coffee, it enhances the chocolate flavor overall.

Pat often doubles the recipe to make enough for a layer cake. I decided I would double the recipe, too, and bake mine in a tube pan, which Pat said she hasn’t yet tried to do. It came out beautifully. In the recipe below, I provide the ingredients for the basic single layer cake that Pat gave me. If you double it, and bake it in two pans, you’ll need 30 minutes baking time. If you choose a tube pan, you need closer to 50 minutes for baking. Just insert your tester to make sure it comes out clean and look for the cake pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Hot Water Chocolate Cake Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Usually I am lazy about messing with frosting. But in honor of Valentine’s Day, I made a lovely ganache to spread over the cake and let dribble down the sides. Pat describes this as a “dump cake,” which means you can more or less dump the ingredients together in usual cake fashion, with virtually no fuss. It goes quickly.

Now, if you should acquire a sweetheart between 3:00 in the afternoon and dinner time on Sunday, you could quickly pull this cake together to celebrate.

Hot Water Chocolate Cake

Yields one single layer 8-inch cake

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ounces baking chocolate, melted

1 1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup boiling water

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8-inch round pan.

Beat together the oil and sugar, then beat in the egg.

Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat enough to mix well.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixture and water alternately to the oil, sugar, egg and chocolate batter beating slowly and ending with the water.

Pour into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Frost if desired or serve with whipped cream.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...