Dark Mocha Molasses Snacking Cake

I've always been of the opinion that an everyday cake is a very necessary thing.

I love the idea of a snacking cake that can sit around on a plate or cake stand, ready to be sliced into as an afternoon treat, an easy dessert, or even a slightly naughty breakfast. People always say that they like to keep such things on hands for "unexpected company," but I don't really believe that such a thing exists. At least not in New York City.

(And thank goodness because it's 2pm as I write this and I'm still in pajamas with a frizzy bun sitting in the middle of my living room, which is completely in disarray. I may be ready with cake, but in absolutely no other way am I prepared for "unexpected guests"! I think that if someone were to show up at my door uninvited, I'd probably just hit the floor in a panic refusing to open the door until they left.)

But I digress.

I have a few such easy cakes in my repertoire, this Dark Mocha Molasses Snacking Cake being one of my new favorites. It's a rich, dark chocolate cake with strong hints of molasses and espresso. I based it off of Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake, but changed it quite a bit. I swapped in all dark sugar (I used a fantastic organic dark sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners that smells strongly of molasses), replacing the buttermilk with very strong and very black coffee.

I also added pure molasses, to play off the deep, slightly bitter notes of the brown sugar, and Kahlua because I once read that a touch of alcohol in cooking makes everything taste better (scientifically speaking, not just socially).

The result is a very dark, moist, black-as-night cake with incredibly rich flavor. If you like coffee and dark chocolate, you'll love this one. If you enjoy those rich bitter notes of molasses in things like gingerbread and sticky toffee pudding, well then this is definitely the cake for you.

I have a special fondness for molasses. I think it's because I grew up reading a lot of books about girls in dreary surroundings who ate stodgy puddings sweetened with molasses while waiting for their beaus to return from the war.

There is something rather virtuous about molasses, too. All those minerals and iron. Make it. Have a bite. I think you'll understand what I mean.

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Dark Mocha Molasses Snacking Cake Recipe
Serves 8. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's "Everyday Chocolate Cake"

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup strong black coffee, room temperature
1/4 cup kahlua (or substitute additional black coffee, for a non-alcoholic version)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, molasses and egg until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the coffee and kahlua until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until completely blended and no lumps or dry spots remain. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake 60 to 75 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack completely. 

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