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Died & Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake

When Eating Well published this recipe several years ago, it instantly became one of the magazine’s most popular recipes. I am not a big baker, so I haven’t tried it until now. (I consider cake of any kind, low fat or rich, to be a serious temptation, so I limit my exposure.) Wow! I was really surprised that a lower fat cake could be so moist, even several days after baking.

If you’re looking for “diet” cake, this isn’t it. It doesn’t use any of the substitutions or artificial ingredients you see in lots of diet recipes, but that’s what I like about it. I’ve said this before: in the 1970’s, I devoured every diet product on the market and I’m done with them. I didn’t lose weight eating diet foods then, and I certainly didn’t learn portion control (in fact, I remember chowing down on mega-portions of “diet” cookies, et al). It was a lose-lose situation.

Since then I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to lose weight and keep it off, and for me it involves moderation. I want to enjoy food because it is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially during the holidays. I try to eat as healthfully as possible, and when I do indulge, I either take a few bites of something really rich, or I enjoy a piece of cake like this one without an iota of guilt. This is real cake, moist and chocolaty, yet it is lower in fat than traditional Bundt cakes. That makes it a real winner!

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 1 1/2 t. baking soda 1 1/2 t. baking powder 1 t. salt 1 1/4 cups buttermilk 1 cup packed light brown sugar 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1/4 cup canola oil 2 t. vanilla extract 1 cup hot strong black coffee

Icing: 1 cup powdered sugar 1/2 t. vanilla extract 1 to 2 T. buttermilk or milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup* Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust the pan with flour, shake it around to distribute it evenly and knock out the excess.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, white sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for two minutes. Whisk in the hot coffee until completely incorporated. The batter will be quite thin, but don’t worry.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out nearly clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and allow to cool completely.

To make the icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and just enough of the buttermilk or milk to make a thick but pourable icing. Set the cooled cake on a serving plate and drizzle the icing over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides.

(*If you use half-size pans as I did, baking time will be shorter by about 15 minutes.)

Note: Cooks Illustrated recommends using Callebaut Dutch-process cocoa, which isn’t available locally in my area. (I mail-ordered mine. God bless the Internet!) Here’s my thought on cocoa–this cake has much less fat than traditional cakes, thus its ingredients must really shine. Use the best cocoa powder you can get your hands on, but if you must, use good old Hershey’s. Your cake may not be the Rolls Royce of chocolate cakes, but it will certainly be the newest, shiniest Toyota Prius. Hey, I like that analogy–a little goes a long way!

Serves: 16

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