Applesauce and chocolate chips: two great tastes that taste great... together?
I'll admit I was skeptical, even when this cake emerged from the oven beautifully copper-toned and smelling of cloves. The cake got a similarly tepid reception from our dinner companions—in particular, a discerning three-year-old, who seemed confused and possibly offended by the unconventional flavor combination.
Her first approach to the cake was that of a practiced surgeon, carefully plucking out the melted tablets of chocolate and dusting off the surrounding crumbs. A few minutes in (and, I think, realizing the fair percentage of cake she was forfeiting through excavation), she took a tentative bite of the remaining, intact slice. Then another, then another—with a slowly dawning look of discovery.
Her expression mirrored my own experience, as skepticism yielded to tenuous like, and then to quiet triumph. This is a cake that grows on you until, hours later, you're still thinking about it, still wondering at the collaboration of chocolate and spice, the subtle piquancy of black pepper. Damn, I may be overselling it now. But I doubt it.
Applesauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine
This is an all-purpose, any-occasion cake—M. was snacking on leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dessert. We initially served the cake with vanilla ice cream, but it was better the next day with a healthy dollop of whipped cream.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
One 12-ounce bag semisweet-chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves and pepper. Whisk in the applesauce, eggs, oil and melted butter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake, slice and serve with whipped cream. [The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.]