Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Decadent Chocolate Cake

intense deep chocolate cake - slice with milk

This is some serious chocolate cake. I'm talking, for REAL. I don't often make something I find myself thinking is "the best". As hard as I strive for perfection, I almost never achieve it. That's not to say I don't think the things I make turn out well, because they (usually) do. It's just that I always see the room for improvement. I'm often left thinking of substitutions or additions I could make to change the recipe I'm using to make it better.

This time, dear reader, that is not the case. This one is IT. Lean in and listen close because I don't say this often.

intense deep chocolate cake - top

This, right here, is - to date - the BEST chocolate cake I have ever made. BOOM. Period. The end. Dare I say, best CAKE I've ever made! Oh yeah, we're not just talking chocolate cake here, we're crossing borders! We're taking down yellow cake, white cake, red velvet and any other cake that has ever crossed my path! This one is it and I have to say, I'm quite proud of myself about it. Did you just hear that horn? Yeah, I'm tootin' my own over here because yes, I have really out done myself this time. A personal best, for sure (and trust me, it takes a lot for me to even think that, let alone proclaim it!).

It's not just this particular cake recipe that makes it the best (this one is equally as delicious but was more cake than I needed), but rather all the components put together. In total, there is over a pound of chocolate in this cake. And it is good. So good. So good I felt the need to italicize and bold the fact that it is so good. This is serious people! I think I mentioned that? Wait - yes, I did. Whew. Just wanted to be sure.

I promise you, if you make this cake, it'll make you proud. People will rave. The skies will part and a rainbow will shine down on you and glitter will fall from the sky.

intense deep chocolate cake - layers

The cake itself is incredibly moist (even days later if wrapped well and stored in the fridge) and despite all the chocolate components, it's not at all overly sweet. It has an intense, deep chocolate flavor that is truly decadent.

Now, I must forewarn you - a cake of this caliber does take some time to produce. None of it is very technical but give yourself an afternoon to put it all together. You can most certainly make it a day ahead, just be sure to store it in an airtight container of some sort (or wrap it very well in plastic wrap) and keep it in the fridge.

intense deep chocolate cake

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
from Barefoot Contessa at Home (Ina Garden is my hero. She never fails me.)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs, room temperature (I used 2 large eggs and about half of another egg)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.

2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet to combine. Slowly add the hot coffee just until combined.

4. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

intense deep chocolate cake - mousse

For the filling:

Chocolate Mousse
adapted from Cooks Illustrated, via Orangette

*Note - you can probably halve this recipe depending on how much filling you like. I prefer a very thick layer of filling and had just enough left over for some simple decoration for the finished cake, plus a couple extra spoonfuls for a taste test ;)

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon whiskey
2 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar, divided into 1 1/2 teaspoons each
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold heavy cream

1. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, water and whiskey in a medium heat proof bowl. Heat over a double boiler, stirring frequently until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In another medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and salt. Whisk until mixture lightens and thickens slightly (about 30 seconds if using an electric mixer). Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture and whisk until combined. Set aside until mixture cools to just warmer than room temperature.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy; add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until only a few white streaks remain.

4. Using your now empty mixer bowl (no need to wash it), whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/egg white mixture until no white streaks remain. Cover and refrigerate until firm for at least 2 hours (or up to 24).

intense deep chocolate cake - ganache

For the frosting:

Simple Ganache
adapted from various sources of ganache ratios

5 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
6 oz. heavy cream

1. Place chopped chocolate and espresso powder in a medium bowl. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until just to a boil. Pour over chocolate and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.

2. Whisk cream and chocolate mixture until smooth. Cool until ganache is of spreadable consistency.

intense deep chocolate cake - inside


  1. Oh yeah - you gotta love Ina! What a great post - I love all your photos. So glad I found your blog!

    Stop by and visit.


  2. Whoopie! This is a sad cake isn't it (slopes down in the middle)? I make a sad cake too and it's also the best scratch cake I've ever made--sad cakes are so moist!! This one sounds so yummy--I will definitely have to try it! Thanks for sharing. ~Veronica

  3. That's a decadent cake alright! And I agree, Ina's recipes never fail.

  4. mmmmm, chocolate cake. I think I'll make this for my half-birthday. No, that's to far away. How about my quarter-birthday....

  5. What are you doing to me!? This looks and sounds absolutely fabulous, and there is no cake in my house at the moment! I am dying here. :D I love all the layers and components, but I am particularly intrigued by the addition of milk chocolate to the ganache. I think it probably brightens the ganache a bit, without simply adding more sugar. I can't wait to try all of it together. Thanks for sharing.

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  6. Words cannot describe how delicious that cake looks to me right now. I wish I could get up and make it right this second. I...must...resist! haha I am going to bookmark it, though.

  7. I love the combo of mousse filling with ganache frosting. Mmm! Your pictures are beautiful. : )

  8. Just an FYI, you have the flour at 1 1/3 cups, and the originla Ina recipe has it at 1 3/4 cups (I checked her original after my batter looked particularly soupy) LOVED your mousse filling!

  9. Thanks so much everyone for your lovely comments :)

    and a big thanks to you Sonja for finding that error! I've updated the post with the correct amounts. I'm glad you liked it!

  10. Ina, of course, not a surprise. I loveeeeee her desserts. And the cake itself is not that bad containing 1/2 cup of oil. Beautiful work...

    visit me sometime -

  11. Great cake and great photos. It looks so moist and chocolate, I must try it! :-)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Best wishes,

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  13. I made this cake today, for my Mother's birthday (which is tomorrow). The cake turned out wonderfully, as has the mousse (which is chilling in the fridge now). Tomorrow I'll make the Ganache and assemble the entire thing; I'm very pleased thusfar though, and I gotta' thank you for the wonderful recipe. (:

  14. Make sure your pans are at least 2 inches deep or the cake will overflow.

  15. i made this for my sisters birthday cake! it turned out great - thanks for the delish recipe.


  16. I'm planning on making this Friday, I hope it turns out as nice as yours! Do the pans really have to be at least 2 inches deep as previously commented? Because mine don't come up to more than 4 cm...

  17. Made this cake for my moms bday and it was fabulous!!! Truly one of the best chocolate cakes i have ever madee!! Everyone loved it and is still raving about it. Thanks so much!! :)

  18. @Sahr - I'm so happy it was met with rave reviews! It's truly one of the best I've ever made too :)

  19. This sounds heavenly, I'm so glad there isn't smell-o-rama blogs yet! LOL I'm going to make it this weekend for my adopted daughter's 25th birthday. Wish me luck! Glad to have found your site. It's bookmarked now! Cheers

  20. This cake is the devil. It is too good to have in the house. I've made it already 3 times. INSANE

  21. I made this cake for my mother's birthday and it turned out spectacular. It was so tasty and the cake itself was beautiful. I loved the interplay of the different browns of the mousse and the ganache. Wonderful work! <3

  22. I've made this before and it was beyond fantastic. Made it tonight and my chocolate for my mousse keeps seizing. Have gone through 24 oz of unsweetened now and same results every time - add whiskey and water and watch it seize - almost instantly - like a really bad magic trick. Any suggestions?? «Thanks.

  23. This recipe is simply fantastic, from start to finish. I decided to do this recipe as I have wanted to for awhile now because I just got my kitchenaid mixer in the mail today!! I followed the instructions and everything tasted perfect. My pans were 2 inches deep and came right up to the top but did not over flow. Thank you so much for this recipe, I feel very accomplished and this recipe will def. be one I make on a regular basis.

  24. I just recently made this cake for my brother-in-laws birthday and it was SOOO YUMMY. I got many many compliments, just wish I had better decorating skills. This is definitely an amazing recipe! It's just prefect! Thanks for your post :) Love your blog!

  25. Made it. Loved it. The only thing I would change next time? I wouldn't add the scotch. Used Ardbeg, the only thing I had on hand, and a very peaty brew... the mousse had an almost tobacco flavour. A bit much, but I used only a thin layer and it was all good... for the adults. Kiddies, not so much. No alcohol for the kiddie cake!

  26. Did I misread this or is the mousse made with raw eggs? Maybe this is typical for mousse but it always scares me to the point of not making it!

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Hello, I wanted to know if there would be enough batter for a triple layer cake or if I should add 1/2 proportions por more?
    Thank you

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. Thanks for sharing this recipe,please share how to make chocolate chip cookies

  31. hey is the cake moist by itself...or u hv put some chocolate syrup for it to moist!

  32. Wow good job!! It looks delicious.. I am definitely going to save this recipe!!
    Seattle Janitor

  33. Just by watching the picture I’m already hungry. Great work & thanks for the recipe.

  34. Nice post. Now get online homemade chocolate cake from monginis in India. For more details

  35. Buttermilk is not available in my country, is there a substitute ingredient I can use instead.

    1. I know this was at the beginning of the year but I still wanted to answer. For every 1 cup of milk it is 15g (1 tablespoon) of lemon juice! It's just to make the milk a bit sour, hope this helps!