I think that we have all encountered situations when we suddenly need to put together a dessert with little notice or without much time to devote to preparation and cleanup. Maybe it was that evening when your child informed you that he or she had volunteered you to bring something to the school bake sale the next morning. Perhaps your husband casually emailed you in the afternoon, saying that he had invited some people from work over for dinner later that evening, and he figured that, since you are such a great cook, you could just "throw something together." Or, in my case, perhaps you have been fighting the flu for the past few days, and you still want to post a new recipe, but you only have the energy to spend a little bit of time in the kitchen.
Whatever your time-crunched situation may be, I have the solution with a sweet tooth-satisfying dessert that can be made with simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen ( I say "most" because I always have unsweetened applesauce in the refrigerator, but I realize that this isn't true for everyone). This recipes requires no chopping, grating, saucepans, or sifters. You can give your KitchenAid mixer a much deserved break because this cake is prepared using the method that grandma swore by--the entire batter is mixed by hand in one large bowl. Of course, grandma probably didn't add black pepper to her cake batter, but don't let that prevent you from adding this extra bit of spice, as it just adds a slight kick to the overall flavor. One bowl for preparation makes for a quick and easy cleanup, so you can be in and out of the kitchen in 15-20 minutes, and you have an entire hour to devote to something else before the cake needs to come out of the oven.
By the way, in addition to being easy to make, did I mention that this cake is very moist and that the chocolate, apple, and spice flavor combination only improves the second day? This might just become one of your new signature desserts, even if you have all the time in the world! Here are just a few tips for this effortless applesauce cake:
- Because it is so moist, this cake can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container or tightly wrapped, for up to 4 days.
- Here are a few variations that you can try for this recipe: Add one cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter along with the chocolate chips. Replace one of the cups of flour with whole wheat flour for a nuttier flavor. If you don't have cardamom on hand, try substituting 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and/or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
- Make sure that the applesauce that you are using for this recipe is unsweetened. Sweetened applesauce will make the cake much too sugary. I'm not really sure why sweetened applesauce is even sold--never been a fan and apples are sweet enough to begin with, right?
- If you find that the top of the cake is browning too much before it has finished baking, then cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and return it to the oven. This will prevent it from burning on the surface.
- This cake really doesn't need to be served with much more than a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar, but it would taste great with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, creme fraiche, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Chip-Applesauce Spice Cake
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
8 tablespoons butter, melted
One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves, and black pepper. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the applesauce, eggs, oil, and melted butter to the well and then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Sift the confectioner's sugar over the cake and then slice and serve.