Maryland Fudge Cake
Every now and then, I come across the perfect recipe just when I am looking for it. Sometimes I see a recipe and think, “I should make that sometime.” Other times I come across a recipe and think, “I can make that tonight!” or “I have to make that as soon as possible!” That’s what happened when I made the Fudge-Topped Sugar Cookies (which also happen to hail from Maryland), and that’s what happened when I came across this delicious Maryland Fudge Cake.
I was planning to bake something for a playdate I was having at my house, but hadn’t decided on what. (No, you never have to feed people at a playdate, but as you might guess, I like to use any gathering as an excuse to bake.) I also had just lamented on Facebook that I didn’t have a great chocolate cake and frosting recipe to share with someone who wanted it. (I do actually have some great chocolate cake recipes, including Chocolate Stout Cake, which includes beer and so isn’t for everyone; Chocolate Bundt Cake, which doesn’t need frosting; and Alton Brown’s Fudge Cake, which I should make again sometime to have it turn out better. I’ll certainly take other cake recommendations if you have any.) So it seemed serendipitous that I came across a recipe called Maryland Fudge Cake just as I needed a cake recipe.
This brownie-like cake was very easy to make. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla, melted chocolate, stir in flour, leavening, and nuts. It had a short bake time – great when you’re making an impromptu cake. The frosting didn’t work for me as originally written. The first time I made the frosting, I was impatient and didn’t whip together the (minuscule amount of) butter and powdered sugar long enough before I added water; I didn’t bother putting it on the cake. So I tried the cake a second time (with unsweetened chocolate instead of semisweet) so I could try the frosting. That time, I made sure the butter was well-mixed into the powdered sugar, and I cut back on the water, adding just enough to make a soft frosting.
It turned out that the cake, the first time I made it, didn’t actually need that frosting. Ungilded, the fudge cake was as much brownie than cake. It was moist, with a crackly top crust that you get from a boxed brownie mix. This is one of the rare chocolate desserts that I prefer with nuts rather than without. This chocolate cake actually has a rather mild flavor, which I enjoyed in this dessert for a change.
That said, I preferred the cake made with unsweetened chocolate to have the frosting, which surprised me. For as often as I’ve baked, it’s still amazing to me that one simple ingredient substitution makes such a difference. In any case, frosting versus not frosting this cake is up to your personal preference. It’s honestly just a small amount of frosting on the cake. If you’re making frosting for this cake, I recommend using a little coffee instead of water, to make the cake a little richer and enhance the chocolate flavor. That’s certainly what I’ll do next time.
- 1/2 cup 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 ounces bitter/semisweet chocolate melted (I used chocolate chips) (you can also use unsweetened chocolate)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- Frosting below is optional but recommended if using unsweetened chocolate
- 2 teaspoons butter softened (for frosting)
- 1 cup powdered sugar for frosting
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder for frosting
- 1 1/2 - 3 tablespoons hot water or coffee for frosting; I recommend coffee
Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Cut out strips of parchment and line the sides as well. (When I didn't do this, my cake stuck a little, although not badly.) Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add melted chocolate and vanilla, mixing again until well combined. Add flour and salt and stir just until combined. Stir in nuts, just until mixed in.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, being careful not to overbake. A toothpick inserted into the center will have a few moist crumbs stuck to it. Cool cake completely.
If you haven't used parchment, carefully run a knife along the edges to loosen the cake. Carefully turn out cake onto a wire rack, then invert it onto your cake plate.
If making frosting, beat together 2 teaspoons butter with the sugar and cocoa powder, until butter is completely incorporated. (I was impatient and ended up with flecks of butter in my icing. So I didn't use it.) Pour in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water/coffee. Beat until fluffy. Add more, teaspoon by teaspoon, if necessary. Pour onto cake and let set.
Want other chocolate + walnut desserts? Try Chocolate Puddle Cookies.