• Yield: Serves 10 to 12

  • Time: 15 minutes prep, 50-60 minutes (plus 10 minutes cooling) cooking

My father, Ivor, is from a small town in the center of South Africa and, although his family’s background is English and Eastern European, he was raised with strong  Dutch influences. One Dutch passion he passed down to me is his love of black licorice, specifically the salty, chewy sort—not the soft, sweet kind. Whenever we visited family in South Africa, my dad would bring home bags of what we knew as dubbel zout (double salt)—coins of salted black licorice about the size of a quarter. I devoured them every chance I got, relishing the savory, saline exterior before it gave way to the barely sweet, chewy center. Dad’s other sweet vice, which I also inherited, is chocolate. Not white. Not milk. Simply pure and dark. So, it was in honor of him, and our shared love of these two confections, that I concocted this deep, dark chocolaty cake, which gets a touch of sophisticated salt flavor, plus notes of molasses and anise, from what might seem to be an unlikely partner: black licorice. Paired together, the two confections make for a brilliant duo that is both delicious and not-too-sweet.


  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing pan

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons licorice root powder

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)

  • 3 ounces Australian soft black licorice chews, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup packed)

Special equipment

  • 12-cup Bundt pan

Bringing It Home by Gail Simmons


Heat the oven to 350ºF with the rack in the middle. Brush the soft butter generously all over the inside of the 12-cup Bundt pan, then dust lightly with cocoa powder, shaking off any excess.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, licorice root powder, and hot water. Add the sugar and whisk well to combine. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

In three additions, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring between each addition until incorporated before adding the next. Fold in the sour cream, chocolate, and licorice chews.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack; remove the pan and let cool completely. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving. Cake can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic, for up to 3 days.

Excerpted from Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons. Copyright © 2017 by Gail Simmons. Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.