Very little effort is needed to make a gorgeous cake guests will gobble up.

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The coming holidays mean lots of guests.

In New York City, where I used to live, no one would dream of visiting without calling two weeks ahead of time.

York is another story. People feel free to drop by and take their chances on whether you will be home or not. I prefer this more relaxed custom.

I also come from a culture where it is de rigueur to feed people. I remember visiting my Italian relatives when I was a child. Visits always took place in the kitchen. If you were there more than ten minutes, coffee and desserts magically appeared. If an hour passed, you would begin to smell a meal simmering on the stove.

My mother was a great baker, and this talent passed on to my daughter. I don’t seem to have the patience for creating beautiful and interesting desserts.

Fortunately, I do have one go-to cake that is easy to prepare and combines two indulgent flavors – chocolate and bourbon. Throw in some pecans, and this cake is a winner.

Unlike most cakes, this chocolate bourbon cake doesn’t require you to cream the butter and sugar separately. Everything goes in one bowl and gets mixed together. To keep the recipe to one bowl, I usually choose one that can go in the microwave to melt the chocolate.

If you don’t have any bourbon on hand, don’t be tempted to substitute some sort of bourbon “flavoring.” The local state stores sell miniatures that are just the right amount. For added richness, I use whole milk buttermilk, which I buy at Perrydell Dairy. If you don’t want to make the trip, low-fat buttermilk will work as well.

The cake is delicious on its own, but it can be made even more decadent if served with whipped cream or ice cream.

Chocolate Bourbon Cake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup bourbon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

4 ounces baking chocolate, melted and cooled

1 cup chopped pecans

Powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with a cooking spray for baking.

Beat all of the ingredients except the pecans and powdered sugar in a large bowl with the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the pecans and pour into the pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter out evenly in the pan.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.

When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.

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