An Unexpected Guest Cake

We have been so isolated these past two years and missing the satisfying connection that face-to-face contact can bring. When we meet in person with another, we use all our senses to communicate. We can see that person’s body language which accounts for a large part of communication. Now that many of us are not wearing masks we can see smiles and give hugs again. Isn’t that refreshing?

It’s always a welcome event when I hear that a VIP is coming, which can also mean a “Visitor-in-Person”. What do you do when you want to welcome your guest with a delicious treat but are unprepared for their visit? You could dump a few store bought cookies on a plate and call it a day. But wouldn’t it be so much more gratifying if you surprised them with something special? Then when your guest walks in, you can greet them with a smile and the irresistible aroma of a baked good in the oven. This is a way to convey how much you appreciate their presence.

I have a go-to recipe for a chocolate cake that gets rave views from everyone who eats it. You can whip it up without making a special trip to the store, if your larder is well-stocked. This recipe was developed during World War II when eggs and oils were in short supply, but mayonnaise was readily available which is mostly oil and eggs.

Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½  cup cocoa, (Dutch processed preferred – makes it taste more chocolaty)
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup hot coffee
⅔ cup mayonnaise (I like Best Foods)
1 tbsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350⁰.  Grease an eight inch square baking dish. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa and chocolate; pour hot coffee over cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth; let cool slightly. Whisk in mayonnaise, vanilla. Stir flour into mixture until combined. Scrape batter into the pan, bake 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out with few crumbs. Let cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. This cake doesn’t need frosting!

One of my favorite memories about this cake is making it for my son, then a hungry teenager. I usually kept aerosol whipped cream in the fridge. I shot little dabs on the pieces of cake, then sprinkled the whipped cream with cocoa powder and minced candied ginger. William then took the can, tipped his head back and with glee, sprayed the whipped cream in his mouth. In person visits are so lovely, especially when silly little spontaneous moments like these happen.