I’m dating myself, but does anyone else remember the commercials for Betty Crocker Snackin’ Cake from the 1970s? They worked on my pee-wee brain like magic: I wanted snackin’ cake, and I wanted it bad.
The appeal was twofold. First, the notion that cake can be a snack. To my child consciousness, this was pure genius. Why on earth was my mother pushing snacks of fruit, vegetables, and whole wheat crackers when chocolate- chocolate chip cake was a viable option?!!!
Second, the box came with its own cardboard baking pan, lending it a toy-like appeal that was right up my 7-year-old alley. I’m not sure why this was so alluring, but the thought of it made me giddy with excitement. According to the commercial, making the snackin’ cake was as simple as dumping the contents into the cute cardboard tray, mixing in some water, and baking for a brief spell. It sounded like heaven, sheer heaven.
My granola-making, Co-Op-shopping, vegetable-gardening mother, of course, thought it sounded like nonsense. She ignored my pleas and passed plates of peanut-butter & raisin-filled celery sticks instead. So long, snackin’ cake.
Fast forward 30 years: hello enlightened chocolate snackin' cake. Longing for a simple chocolate cake one evening, I merged several recipes into one to create one heck of chocolate-chocolate chip snackin' cake. It's an easy, everyday-type of chocolate cake: lunchbox friendly, not too sweet, frosting-free, and plenty of deep chocolate flavor.
Even better, this truly is a pantry cake, because –I know this may sound crazy, but you need to trust me here—it contains no eggs or dairy products. It has the rich chocolate flavor of a brownie, with the tender crumb of an old-fashioned cake. I used whole wheat pastry flour to make it that much more everyday-friendly, but all-purpose is fine, too. You probably have the ingredients on hand right now, so whip up a batch to test my claims.
I’m glad I waited for a new, improved snackin’ cake (and more than happy to admit that my mother was right--where would Enlightened Cooking be without her?). Now if only I could figure a way to construct my own cardboard baking trays…
Enlightened Chocolate Snackin’ Cake
Meditate on the following as you savor a piece of this old fashioned-tasting chocolate cake, morning, noon, or night: unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate (hello chocolate chips!) are loaded with antioxidants; and each piece comes with 3.1 grams of whole grain fiber, to boot. Zen!
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably NOT Dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Optional: 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch-square metal cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well-blended.
In a large bowl whisk the water, oil and vanilla. Whisk in the dry ingredients. Spread batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
Bake cake 35 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on rack. Cool. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. If desired, sift with powdered sugar. Makes 12 generous servings.
Nutrition per serving (1/12 of cake):
Calories 172; Fat 11.7g (poly 2.9g, mono 6.2g, sat 2.1g); Protein 2.8g; Cholesterol 0.0mg; Carbohydrate 17.1g; Sodium 203.7mg; Fiber 3.1g)
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)