If you have been in touch with the news lately, you will be all to familiar with the topic of war & Syria popping up at least once per broadcast. As grim as the subject is, war brings about some good qualities. People are reminded of the precious value of life, we bond together, appreciate more, and get innovative when times are rough. Such innovation brought this little gem out of World War II. During the war, key baking items like butter and eggs were difficult to come by and even if you managed to get your hands on the stuff you certainly wouldn’t be wasting precious ingredients on a dessert that would otherwise have fed the family for days if properly rationed. So in order to crave the sweet tooth of struggling America, cooks had to come up with cakes that didn’t need the scarce stuff.
With men at war and women out to work, cooking times had to be short and simple. Desserts like the Emergency Chocolate Cake were loved by homemakers because they were quick and convenient, given the fact that all the ingredients were items already stocked in the pantry. This caused recipes like this one to continue being made even after rationing was a part of the past. Such an easy cake has to have a catch right? For me, not so much. This cake really had a lot going for it. Sure I had to do a little tweaking to boost the chocolate flavor up to modern standards but overall it was moist and delicious. That is if you can get past the fact that the main ingredient supplying the moist, velvety texture is mayonnaise. If you loathe mayo than that is your catch.
A good way to get past the oddball ingredient is to know what mayo is really made up of. Behind the lardy appearance is just some whipped up eggs and oil, hence why it was the perfect substitute for the scarce butter and egg of wartime. This cake is so moist, tender, and chocolaty it really shouldn’t be subjected to only emergencies. You should try it pronto, especially with how easy it is and everything is on hand already. Before you do though I have just a few quick notes to maximize your experience.
Keep in mind that the original recipe lacked the additional chocolate and egg that is added here. I prefer this minor tweak as it makes the chocolate flavor more prominent to our modern standards and the extra egg adds just a bit of extra textural support although you certainly could do without the extra egg and chocolate as the original formula. My favorite high quality chocolate that I used was Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate but you could use any brand of chocolate but it is best if you stick to a high quality brand. If you don’t like dark chocolate you can also use semisweet or bittersweet instead. Now I chose to top this cake with confectioners’ sugar since it is simplistic like the rest of the cake, but still adds a touch of elegance and added sweetness. You can however serve this cake with some sweetened whipped cream instead. The following formula makes one 8 inch square cake.
Emergency Chocolate Cake
- 7 ½ oz. (1 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 7 oz. (1 cup) Granulated Sugar
- ½ tsp. Baking Soda
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 2 oz. (½ cup) Cocoa Powder
- 2 oz. Dark Chocolate, chopped fine
- 1 cup Hot Coffee
- 2/3 cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Egg
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- Confectioners’ Sugar (for dusting) (optional)
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350º. Lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa and chocolate. Pour the hot coffee over the cocoa mixture and whisk together until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in the mayonnaise, egg, and vanilla. Stir the mayonnaise mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top evenly. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hours. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares in the pan or for a better presentation, turn cake out onto a serving platter, dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares to serve.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM KEITH DRESSER
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013