This cake looks pretty when made, but it has absolutely no flavor. I would never make it again or recommend it. The batter is very dry, the cake is dry. I am disappointed in Southern Living for even including it in their magazine. You cannot tell me it worked well in the test kitchen.
There is something wrong with this recipe. The batter was so dry I couldn't stir it with a spoon ...had to use my hands. Naturally when the cake was baked it also was very d-r-r-y. Worst of all, it didn't taste like apples or mocha or chocolate. Not a keeper!
I tried to make this cake yesterday, and I wonder if the recipe is correct. When I added the dry ingredients into the sugar/oil mixture, I was faced with a crumbly, almost-impossible-to-mix dough-like batter...it definitely seemed to be missing some moisture. To rectify the problem, I compared this recipe to other apple cake recipes (inc. the Apple Cream Cheese Bundt cake also in this issue) and decided to add another egg (beaten) and an additional 1/2 c. of canola oil. This created a gummy, glistening, warm-taffy like batter. I was able to blend in the apples, pecans and chocolate, but, due to the consistency of the batter, there was no way to do so "just until blended"; i.e., I'm sure it took far more strokes than intended. Once baked, the cake had a spongy texture (maybe due to the additional egg I added). I served it like a "bread pudding," topped with the burnt butter icing as a glaze (added other ingd. [+ extra milk] while butter still warm) and whip cream. It was ok.