Snack Cakes are a very good thing to have in your bag of tricks. A snack cake implies a fast prep, probably without a mixer, and fairly simple ingredients. This Chocolate Snack Cake is all that, and results in a cake that is richer, moister and with a more refined texture than you might expect.
You can thank the buttermilk for the texture, because it gives this cake a nice light rise, while it enhances the chocolate flavor. If you spend any time on this blog at all, you are probably already aware of my vast affection for buttermilk, and this cake just gives me one more reason to love it. My refrigerator always has a carton or two, ready for whatever I am dreaming up this week. If your refrigerator is not similarly endowed, you can substitute the same amount of milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice stirred in.
I think cake recipes may have fallen out of favor somewhat – box mixes are so easy after all, right? It seems that often, the idea of sifting ingredients and alternating mixtures just seem too time consuming and fussy. That is why you need this recipe.
It is, as the name implies, fast and easy and made in no time from what you probably already have on hand right in your pantry and fridge. It’s a perfect “spur of the moment” recipe, and for me, it has more than a touch of nostalgia. Snack cakes were apt to show up back when I was a kid, and my mom needed to produce a cake in a hurry, and anytime Larry’s late grandmother came for a meal, and often at church suppers when someone decided what to bring at the last minute. I’m even going to tell you how to make the world’s easiest buttercream frosting, though this cake is also wonderful warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a big dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
But enough palaver – you are here for the recipe, right?
- 1 &1/2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup natural baking cocoa
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ⅓ cup water [you can use coffee if you like]
- ⅓ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- ½ cup room temperature butter
- 2 to 2½ cups 10x [confectionery] sugar
- about 1 tablespoon heavy cream, half and half or milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350º and generously butter an 8 x 8 baking pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- In a 2 cup measure, or small glass bowl, measure in the buttermilk and water, and add the butter, but into a few pieces.
- Microwave for a minute or long enough to warm it enough to melt the butter. This will vary, depending on your microwave, but you just want it warm enough to melt the butter - not boiling. Once it is warm, stir to combine.
- Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk.
- Pour the buttermilk into the flour.
- Break the egg into the now empty measuring cup or bowl and beat lightly - pour the beaten egg into the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.
- Stir together with a wooden spoon or a rubber scraper, until well combined.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, turning once, halfway through the baking time.
- At 25 minutes, begin checking for doneness, by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick near the center - it should come out with some moist crumbs, but no wet batter. If it's not quite done, return to the oven for another 2 minutes, and check again to see if it's done. If not, bake another 2 minutes and check again. It is easy to over-bake a chocolate cake, so stay close, and go by how the crumbs look more than the time.
- Cool the cake on a rack, right in the pan. If frosting, cool completely, but it is nice served still warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
- Using an electric hand mixer and a medium bowl, cream the butter for 30 seconds or so.
- Add 2 cups of 10x sugar, the cream and the vanilla, and beat on low speed until it is a creamy and smooth consistency.
- If it is too stiff, add more cream, a few drops at a time, if it is too loose, add more sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. The exact proportions depend on the dryness of your sugar and how soft the butter is - just keep fiddling with it until it is spreadable, but stiff enough to form peaks when you spread it.
- When the cake is completely cool, spread the buttercream frosting evenly over the top. To serve, cut in squares.
- Will keep at room temperature, tightly covered for 2 days - after that, refrigerate.
Looks pretty amazing, doesn’t it? And trust me – no box mix can come close to the rich and chocolatey flavor of this cake.