Chocolate Water Cake
Dense, moist, and decadent, this Chocolate Water Cake calls for ingredients you likely have in the cupboard, and the cake doesn't use any butter, milk, or eggs (meaning the cake itself is dairy-free and vegan). The chocolate frosting does include dairy, but if you'd like to keep the recipe vegan, feel free to top the cake with any vegan frosting you prefer—we promise the cake will still be just as good. This cake comes together in one bowl, and because it's so moist and rich on its own, we don't fuss with layering and stacking several layers of cake. This recipe is designed to require the frosting of one perfectly thick layer and moving on with your life. The cake is made of a simple batter of flour, brown sugar, and cocoa powder mixed with vegetable oil and hot water. The lift and tenderness of the cake comes from the incorporation of baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and the sweetness of the cake is balanced with just the right amount of salt. As for the frosting, a simple chocolate ganache is made in the microwave by melting together chocolate chips and butter and then whipping this ganache with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a small amount of strong coffee to create a tangy and rich chocolate frosting that's easy to spread. Finally, we top the frosted cake with a sprinkling of flake salt to elevate and compliment the cake's richness.
Recipe Summary test
If you don't have espresso powder but still want to enhance the chocolate flavor with coffee, substitute the 1 3/4 cups hot water for 1 3/4 cups strong coffee—in our test, this worked just as well and didn't overwhelm the cake with coffee flavor.