Many people think that baking is a mysterious art, something Grandma does in the secret confines of her kitchen.

Her exquisite lemon shortbread and coconut macaroons couldn’t be made by any other hands, because no one else has the perfect touch to complete them. But that is just completely untrue. I firmly believe in the power of teaching and testing, and the combination of these two, with a little effort, can offer fantastic results in the kitchen. I won’t declare that everyone can bake masterfully, as some are bound to be better than others, but I will say that baking is easier than it seems. If you can read this recipe and follow directions (you go to Yale, after all), you can make this delicious chocolate cake.

You can use a variety of icings on this cake. As I’m a big chocolate fan, and also not much for white icings, I use a modification of the icing my host mom in Italy taught me to use on her own chocolate cake. Since it is much cheaper and more prevalent there, she uses marscapone cheese and Nutella (in almost equal portions) to make a fantastic frosting. I’ve substituted cream cheese for the marscapone and had delicious results. I also recommend a good peanut butter frosting. Mmm. Enjoy.

2 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY®’S Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat for two minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Makes two 9-inch single-layer cakes or one 9-inch double-layer cake.

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