As promised, here is the recipe for the super easy (only 7 minutes prep time and all the ingredients go in one pan!), super thrifty (it uses cocoa powder, not the more expensive bars of baker's chocolate), and super delicious. (I found this recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home back in 1994 - my brother gave me the book as a gift and included the date in the inscription - and it has been my all-time favorite ever since.)
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water or brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vinegar
For the glaze (optional - you could just sprinkle some confectioner's sugar or cinnamon sugar or eat it plain and it would still be yummy):
1/2 pound bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup hot water, milk, or half-and-half (more or less)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. (This is a cake that should be served from the pan. If you want to turn it out of the pan you need mix the batter in a bowl and treat the bottom of the pan with a layer of parchment paper and butter and flour. We always eat it from the pan. Usually with utensils. Sometimes without as you will see from the pics below.)
Sift together the dry ingredients into an ungreased 8-inch square or a 9-inch round baking pan. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, water or coffee, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Set the cake aside to cool, and if you choose to make the glaze, reset the oven to 300 degrees.
For the glaze, melt the chocolate in a small ovenproof bowl or heavy skillet in the oven about 15 minutes. Stir the hot liquid and the vanilla into the chocolate until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake. Refrigerate the glazed cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Post script: Pictures of my son after he discovered "his" cake on Valentine's Day (2/14/09).