I have an emergency.
What is the nature of your emergency?
I want to make a Valentine's Day chocolate cake but I also have to clean it up all by myself.
So, basically, you're lazy and don't want to make a real cake with beaters and mixers and frostings and layers and sprinkles and buttercream roses? And you don't want so much cake that you'll be tempted to eat it for breakfast for the next 6 weeks?
I'll send someone right over.
I'm here for you.
This cake is for you, and for me, and for anyone who needs a chocolate something this week to please a family or a friend or a partner or a spouse or a Valentine of any denomination. It's quick, it's easy, it's real food, and it doesn't come from a box. It takes 10 minutes to put together (true story) and 30ish minutes to bake.
Yes, you can make a more complicated, traditional Valentine's dessert. You can make sea salt caramel truffles with organic lavendar petals and pipe hearts on top with a pastry bag and a Wilton tip. You can make a souffle or a tart or a roulade or a lava cake wrapped in hot pink fondant. You can muss, you can fuss, you can do all that if you want to.
Or you can concentrate on other things, go about your life, do some work, read the mail, pay a bill, walk a dog, kiss your people, and then, after dinner, make this cake and have it on the table in 45 minutes.
It's up to you.
Happy Valentine's Day to-be, friends. I'd kiss you all if I could, and give you each a pastel-colored heart on which I'd write, in my finest, most sophisticated hand: Text Me and i ♥ u.
Recipe for One Bowl Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with or without Quick Glaze
The very point of this cake is its ease: you don't need special equipment, fancy ingredients, or much time. Sour cream adds depth and tang, and mini chips bolster the chocolaty oomph. Go the unglazed route for maximum simplicity, or spoon a 5 minute ganache on top if you're desperate to wash another dish.
Deep thanks to my friend Jill for providing last minute technical advice. I'm saving my biggest slice for her.
Makes one 9-inch round, single-layer cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted about halfway
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
For the optional glaze:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, milk, egg, vanilla, and mini chips. Mix well with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. It's okay if the batter's a bit lumpy, but make sure there are no pockets of undissolved dry ingredients. Scrape into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch, a skewer withdraws clean, and the cake is just beginning to pull away from the sides.
Cool on a rack for a few minutes, then unmold to cool completely.
If making the glaze, wash and dry the bowl. Add the chopped chocolate. In a small saucepan, bring the cream up to a hard simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Cover for a few minutes, then stir well. Refrigerate until slightly thickened. Spoon over the cake, or serve alongside.