Everyone loves magic, right? And everyone loves cake, right? Those of us who make the cake love it even more when we don't even have to use a bowl to make the cake! And it can, and should, be served 5 to 10 minutes out of the oven, eliminating the need to plan more than an hour ahead. That's close enough to perfect for me.
This was not called "Magic Cake" by Betty Crocker, when she put it in her "Shortcut Cooking for the Smart Cook". I believe she called it "Hot Fudge Sundae Cake" or something to that effect. However, Ryan, many years ago, in his infinite 3-year-old's wisdom, called it Magic Cake the first time he saw it. And magic cake it has stayed.
This is a perfect transitional (read: autumnal) dessert. It's warm, since it's a cake, but it's cool, served with ice cream. And it makes its own hot fudge to top off the cake and ice cream. What are you waiting for? Everyone in the house will enjoy this one.
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1-3/4 cups very hot tap water
Heat oven to 350.
In a 9x9x2 or 10x7x2 ungreased pan, stir together the flour, white sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix in the milk, oil, and vanilla with a fork until the batter is smooth. Stir in the nuts, if desired. Spread evenly in pan.
Sprinkle the entire top of the cake batter with the brown sugar, then sprinkle the 4 tbsp cocoa evenly over the brown sugar. Pour the hot water over the top of the cake. Yes, I know this sounds wrong. It goes against everything you know, but it does work.
Bake the cake uncovered for 40 minutes. The cake will not have a sunken top if it is fully cooked, but testing will not tell you if it's done. This is what you'll take out of the oven. It looks rather crusty, but it gets better when you serve it.
While it's warm, put the cake on serving plates. Top with ice cream, and spoon the hot fudge from the bottom of the pan. Voila! The Magic! Top each with whipped cream for a real sugar coma and caloric nightmare. I promise you'll love it. (Shown without whipped cream for the full mouthwatering effect.)