A couple of months ago Cook's Illustrated, on the Today Show, cooked up some forgotten cakes. One was the Emergency Chocolate Cake from the 1940's. I've now made it at least 6 times, including by request in cupcake form from my 10 year old daughter for her birthday party. She even knows it has mayonnaise in it. Mayonnaise is a strange ingredient but not too unfamiliar in the baking world. It makes baked goods super moist. This cake gets more and more moist the older it gets...that is, if it makes it past day two. A simple buttercream or cream cheese frosting is the perfect compliment, but neither are necessary.
This recipe calls for coffee as an ingredient, but using water is fine if you don't want that hint of java. It also calls for Dutch cocoa but it works with any kind of cocoa. I've also used a mini bundt pan and made Mocha Caramel cakes for a fancier twist for my sister to sell at her deli. I'm going to include my Caramel Frosting recipe below, since it's mine.
Yield: 2 cups
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. evaporated milk
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Bring the brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter to a boil until the sugar is dissolved (about 1 minute). Whip in the powdered sugar until smooth with a hand-held or stand mixer. Use immediately. To make a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar. To make a thinner frosting, add more evaporated milk by the tablespoonfull after the frosting has been made the regular way.