I don't know when I first saw a recipe for "snack cake" (also called "snacking cake") but I do remember that I was immediately drawn to the title. It was so friendly, so welcoming. It was practically wearing a big sign that said hey, eat me in the middle of the day as a little treat. I'm easy and delicious and you don't have to commit. Just a little piece of cake, no big deal.
I tried to find a definition for snack cake, but the internet kept wanting to tell me about Little Debbie, Ding Dongs, and Zebra Cakes. Those are snack cakes, yes, but snack cake is something else. From what I gather, it's a one layer cake most often made in an 8- by 8-inch pan. It typically uses vegetable oil, not butter, which means it can be whipped up quickly in one bowl. The chocolate version includes white vinegar in the batter.
My version is inspired by a recent trip to New Orleans. I picked up some of the quintessential chicory coffee when I was at Cafe du Monde, and I knew that its deep chocolatey notes would be the perfect accompaniment to chocolate cake. Bananas are typical in New Orleans cuisine (it's the birth place of Bananas Foster) because most of the United States' supply of the fruit used to come through the port.
The cake is incredibly moist with a fluffy, springy crumb. It's sweet and cocoa-y and the banana flavor really melds with the chocolate because I used fruit puree, not chunks. The cake gets a coating of strong, sweet, chicory coffee glaze. You can use regular coffee if you'd like, but the glaze will lose some of its depth and intensity.
Just like its name suggests, it's the perfect cake to snack on at anytime of day.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios