It seems I've had a request (other than my husband's) for the chocolate cake recipe I mentioned in my previous jalapeno-happy post. I didn't include it then because I wasn't sure enough about it to wax enthusiastic to you lovely people. Now that it's cooled (we ate that baby warm, mmmm), glazed, and aged, I'm more confident of its qualities and ready to share. Besides, I can't say no to such nice folks. So here you go.
I may have, in my haste, fallen upon the first recipe that met my limitations of the day, but it turned out to be a good one. The cake is still tender and even more moist today than last night, so it's aging well so far. There is also a bit more jalapeno flavor on day two, but we still wish it had more heat. If I made it again (and I wouldn't put it past me if there are jalapenos lying about again--any excuse to eat chocolate), I would add a dash of cayenne for a truer south of the border accent. I would also be tempted to add cinnamon for an even more Aztec aura, although David thinks that would muddy the flavors.
The glaze that I added after it cooled was Dave's idea. He likes the crackly texture contrast and the extra bit of sweetness that it adds. With or without the glaze, the cake is a very mild chocolate experience that still manages to be adequately satisfying. It scratches the chocoholic itch without feeling heavy and decadent or causing the afterburn of over indulgence. It's the kind of cake that might have been called "snacking cake" in a more innocent time when a piece of something sweet and a glass of milk was considered to be healthy. Although I can knock back shots of the deep dark stuff, the hard liquor of chocolate, the kind that makes me roll my eyes and moan with sensual delight, I really enjoyed the simple, homey satisfaction of this lightweight version.
But the very best thing about the recipe is its utter ease. There's no fussy creaming step that must be gotten right or else disaster, which makes it perfect for those who are scratch-cake avoiders. If you can measure and stir, you can make this simple cake. It can be vegan if you substitute soy milk for the buttermilk I used, which was all I had and usually a good thing for baking anyway. Add-in's other than jalapenos could create variety: orange zest, nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits, toffee chips, coconut, etc. It could be topped with powdered sugar, plain glaze, citrus glaze, chocolate glaze, caramel...Well, obviously I could go on and on, but you get the idea. See how exciting this part of food is? So many stimulating ideas!
But back to the ease factor. If I wanted a simple, easy chocolate cake fix, this one could be whipped up almost any time--even an hour before dinner it turns out. It's definitely the simplest cake I've ever made. There's a time and place for fancy and rich, but this one works famously for, say, a dreary Monday when you want to be amused and comforted. Or, I suspect, a few other occasions, too. Or no occasion at all. When cake is this easy, you don't need one, now do you.
Jalapeno Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-2 jalapenos, seeded, deveined, and finely diced
1/2 cup orange juice or water
1/2 cup buttermilk, regular milk, or soy milk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar (or 1 tablespoon if you use regular milk or soy milk)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and jalapenos. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice and/or water (I used a combo), buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Add the orange juice mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the vinegar just before pouring the batter into the pan. It can't sit around once you add it. It's a bit reactive, shall we say. You'll see.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for a few minutes. Turn out onto the rack to cool completely.