Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray, and dust the pan with 2 teaspoons flour.
Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave at high 1 minute or until butter melts. Add cocoa, stirring well with a whisk. Add brown sugar, stirring well until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add eggs, 1 at a time, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Lightly spoon 3/4 cup flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to bowl, stirring just until blended (do not overstir). Combine hot water and espresso. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares; serve warm or at room temperature.
I have been using this recipe since I found it in the August 2001 issue. It is our go-to chocolate cake recipe. The ingredients come together easily. No fuss no mess. I can get it into the oven in about 10 min. I only dirty a large bowl, a whisk, and a measuring cup. Since the recipe only uses a whisk, it is important to work out all the lumps in the batter every step. The batter is wet, but if you make sure to tap it down before placing into the oven, it bakes up just fine. The recipe doubles easily for a 2-layer cake. I've made cupcakes successfully using this recipe. If you flour and grease the baking pans, the cake comes out easily. I've used the standard round pans, turkey shaped mold (for Thanksgiving), and bunny- and lamb-shaped molds (for Easter) without any problems. I've served and shared this recipe with many friends over the years and they all have the same success with it. It stands up to refrigeration and icing very well.
I love this cake and have made it with no problems several times. Tonight I used 1 egg + 1/4 cup liquid egg white and I think that made it even better. The taste is rich, the texture is soft but fluffy with a bit of a crunchy exterior. It's wonderful warm with a dab of vanilla ice cream. Just be sure you stir everything well--don't beat it to death, but do stir in things completely. I bake mine 28 minutes.
I've tried this recipe twice and failed twice. The batter is runny and cooks unevenly and/or takes additional time. If you let it cook longer you get a crust on the outside and a weird circle in the middle. Can't double it, can't make it into cupcakes. I will never use this recipe again!!!!
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