Mix all dry ingredients.
Add all wet ingredients except water - Mix.
Add boiling water and mix. The batter will be thin.
Bake in 2 greased and wax paper lined 9" pans, or 1 9"x13" pan at 350° for 35-40 mins. Test that the cake is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, it's done.
You can use any liquor you choose. Each will impart its own flavors. Rum, Brandy, or Grand Marnier also work beautifully. You can also just skip it if you feel strongly. The alcohol burns up during the cooking though, if you're worried about a boozy cake.
The boiling water can also be replaced by hot coffee. In that case, I would replace the cognac with Kahlua.
Of course you can use this recipe to make cupcakes too.