We are all familiar with making cakes for a reason. It might be a birthday. There could be a holiday coming up, or a friend might have a new baby. Maybe you have new neighbors. Cakes for an occasion are exciting.
There's only one problem with a cake for an occasion - what if there isn't an occasion, and you want some cake? Why not make a cake, just because? There doesn't have to be a reason, and any day can be special enough for cake. Here's a terrific recipe that I make every so often, just because. In fact, my oldest son has been known to ask me if we can make this cake just because it's Monday/Friday/the end of the month, etc. It's a fantastically easy cake recipe that is open to interpretation and specialization, but is pretty darned good just the way it is. That's why it's called..
Pretty Darned Good Chocolate Cake
In a large mixing bowl, put 1/2 cup of oil, 1/2 cup of warm water, and 1 8 ounce container of sour cream. Mix on low. Add in 4 eggs, one at a time, and blend well. To this mixture, add 1 package of chocolate pudding mix, and when that is well mixed, add one chocolate cake mix. Stir until very well combined, and then increase the mixer speed and mix on medium for 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, and stir in one bag of chocolate chips. Pour mixture into a well greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then invert pan onto cooling rack and serve wtih whipped cream, ice cream or fruit.
I've been making this cake for more than 15 years and have discovered several tips and tricks. You can use any combination of cake mix and pudding mix. My personal favorite is milk chocolate cake mix and white chocolate pudding mix, but I have used dark chocolate and even cheesecake pudding mix equally well. A friend makes a vanilla cake mix/butterscotch pudding and chip version of this cake that is delicious. The true secrets to this cake seem to be the beating - the cake batter should look like silk when it's poured out - and it must be made in a bundt pan. I've been successful with a lower fat version - to recreate this, substitute applesauce for the oil and use low fat sour cream and Egg Beaters.
I usually garnish this cake with a little powdered sugar, because it's really too sweet to need frosting, but friends have told me that they love topping this cake with chocolate ganache or even melted chocolate frosting.