Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9" cake pans using coconut oil or shortening. Cut rounds of parchment paper to line the bottom of the cake pan, place in the pan, grease the top of the parchment paper. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour into the pan and turn while patting the pan to lightly coat the entire inside with flour. (See explanation below as to why this step is important).
Add apple cider vinegar to the milk, stir, and set aside. This step is creating a "buttermilk" that will add to both flavor and rise.
Sift together the dry ingredients. You can simply whisk them together; however, sifting ensures a more even mix and breaks up any clumps. This step is part of making a cake fluffy and evenly colored. When making a flavored cake like this I'll sift the dry ingredients twice.
In a separate bowl mix together the milk, apple sauce, vanilla, almond extract, and melted oil.
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and measure out the 1/4 cup dark chocolate. Set aside.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry for only a few folds. Mixture should still look dry.
Add the chocolate chips, pour the boiling water on top of them, fold until batter is smooth. The key is to stop folding as soon as the batter looks evenly mixed. Overmixing cake batter leads to a tough and overly dense cake.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pans. Divide evenly.
Bake cakes on middle rack for 30-35 minutes. An inserted tooth pick or cake tester should come out clean.
Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto a wire cooling rack. Might need a butter knife around the edge to ensure clean depanning. Peel off the parchment paper. Invert onto a lightly oiled wire cooling rack so that the bottom or flat part of the cake is on the rack. Let cool completely, roughly 2 hours, before wrapping to freeze or frost.