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Chocolate Cake and a Contraption

April 26, 2010

Today, I present to you the four C’s…and I don’t mean to disappoint you but this has nothing to do with diamonds.  I have a cake, it’s chocolate with another key ingredient, coffee, and I used one of the best contraptions I’ve seen in a long time.

First, the cake.  I’ve made this twice over the last week.  I had two separate gatherings planned six days apart and I wanted to make everything from scratch.  My friends didn’t expect this, of course, but I wanted to offer my best and because of this, there was no time to be a maverick with an untested recipe.  This cake doesn’t disappoint anyway.  In fact, it has quickly become one of my go-to desserts over the last year.  It’s easy to make, it’s incredibly moist and it has chocolate and coffee.  Need I say more?

If you haven’t yet tasted a chocolate cake that contains coffee, I would urge you to try this.  This isn’t like an espresso brownie where you would expect a dominant coffee flavor in each bite.  Instead, the coffee adds a layer of complexity to the finished product by heightening the chocolate experience.  Trust me when I say “try this”.  I’m still blown away every time I make this cake because it always turns out as promised and I can’t take any credit for it.  Contrary to my habit of always tweaking savory recipes, I follow this exactly.  It’s perfect just the way it is.

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

Recipe by Ina Garten


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350º.  Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper.  Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed.  In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla.  Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated (the batter will look really thin and watery but it’s okay).

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.  If you use a convection oven like I do, my cakes usually cook in about 25 minutes.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely.  Peel off the parchment paper.

To make the frosting, Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or by using your microwave.  If using the latter, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate has melted.  Stir until completely melted then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl.  At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute.  In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water.  Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.

Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up.  Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge.  Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up.  Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days.  Let stand 1 hour before serving.

Now check out this video.  Have you seen anything like it?  I was desperate to find Christmas gifts last year and I came across this in one of my magazines.  Sure, it was attractive, but I was dubious about it actually working as a cake server.  Furthermore, I don’t really like to clutter my limited drawer space with single-use gadgets and I wouldn’t encourage my friends to do the same.  When I saw this video, however, I was intrigued and ordered two (one to give away and one for me) and promptly forgot about it until last week.

This is a cake server from Magisso.  But just so you know, my new status as a food blogger would automatically preclude me from being used by a company to promote their product.  I found this on my own and I’m sharing it with you because I’m quite happy with it.  As can be seen in the video, this gadget actually makes serving cake an easy, one-handed task.  This gadget has rightfully earned a permanent spot in my baking drawer.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2010 12:44 PM

    Ok. Just stumbled that cake. Because…hello. It is gorgeous. Absolutely GORGEOUS!

    • April 26, 2010 12:51 PM

      Thanks, Brooke! It’s so easy to make even a non-baker like me can’t mess it up. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. April 26, 2010 1:39 PM

    I just made a chocolate (overload) cake too with espresso in it, but i should try out this cake recipe. The Hershey’s one (with espresso/coffee added) is my go-to, but I’ll try this out. I love the frosting recipe. I think the addition of egg yolk is quite interesting.

    I looked at the cake-serving tool. It is quite cool.

  3. April 26, 2010 4:06 PM

    I adore that cake and would recognize it anywhere:) I saw the pic on tastespotting and was like, “AH! That’s Ina’s chocolate cake!” I just made it myself a couple weeks ago. It’s amazing and so easy.

    • April 26, 2010 4:18 PM

      Well as they say, “great minds think alike”! I found your post and I agree that it is a champ of a cake.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. April 26, 2010 5:05 PM

    what a beautiful cake…it looks so rich and so moist….I can almost taste it…..sigh….I wish I could taste it

    • April 26, 2010 6:43 PM

      Chef Dennis, you are absolutely right, this cake is RICH! A little goes a long way.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. April 26, 2010 8:50 PM

    This is one of my favorite chocolate layer cake recipes too. It doesn’t get much better than this!

    • April 26, 2010 8:59 PM

      Kristen, you’re right. It’s earned quite a following for good reason.

      Thanks for visiting! The photos on your site are beautiful!

  6. April 26, 2010 8:58 PM

    When I first saw the picture of your cake I immediately thought “Is that the cake from Ina Garten?” I have been wanting to try this cake for years! I don’t care anymore, I want, NO NEED to just go ahead and make this freakin cake!

    • April 26, 2010 9:02 PM

      Valen, I had no idea how recognizable this cake was until this post. Definitely try it–you won’t be sorry.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  7. April 27, 2010 5:05 AM

    Gosh, this looks like pure decadence. Got any left over for me?
    *kisses* HH

  8. April 27, 2010 11:15 AM

    I love Ina’s chocolate cake recipe; tried it couple times and was always a crowd pleaser! Your cake looks deliciously moist and decadent! Well done! And thanks for introducing my new fav. kitchen gadget! I’ve got to have this NOW!!

  9. Sharon permalink
    April 27, 2010 1:50 PM

    I saw Ina Garten make this cake on the Barefoot Contessa and added it to my list of cake recipes to make. I’ve made it twice thus far and it is absolutely delicious. I wasn’t a chocolate cake fan before because most are usually too dry but this one is very moist. I love the coffee added to the cake and the icing. It’s definitely a keeper.

    • April 27, 2010 1:54 PM

      Hi Sharon,
      Thanks for confirming what’s so good about this cake–how moist it is. Glad you dropped by!

  10. joudiesmoodfood permalink
    April 27, 2010 3:52 PM

    Looks HEAVENLY! I am craving chocolate. BIGTIME.

  11. April 27, 2010 5:28 PM

    Oooh, that cake looks just perfect. Simple and rich. I’m bookmarking this for the next time I need to show up somewhere with an impressive cake.

    The link I clicked said the stainless steel cake server was $49.95. I’m too cheap. The colored versions come out at the end of April, but I’m not sure if I’m even up for $19.95 when I could use my crappy plastic server for free. I guess I’m saying I’m sad that Ikea doesn’t sell this for $1.95.

    Cake server rant aside, this is one beautiful chocolate cake. Glad I found you. Oh, via Tastespotting, if you were wondering.

    • April 27, 2010 5:43 PM

      Jen, thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, the cake server is a little pricey–I would have loved to find it for much less. You won’t be sorry with this cake.

      • April 27, 2010 6:03 PM

        I just looked through the rest of your blog and was delighted to find you are relatively new. I’m glad I caught you at the beginning so I haven’t missed much! I’m adding you to my feed.

      • April 27, 2010 8:05 PM

        Gee, thanks, Jen. Yes, I’m very new to food blogging. I hope I don’t disappoint. I really appreciate your comment and I’m glad you’ll be checking back in.


  12. May 1, 2010 4:26 AM

    I’m reeling about the cake server. When there are only two slices left, are there arguments over who gets the last piece of cake that is equally curved on both sides?

  13. May 5, 2010 12:23 PM

    I’ve made this cake and it is delicious! This is one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes.

  14. April 7, 2011 7:16 PM

    I’ve had this post bookmarked for ages, but never really had a reason to make it. But the boyfriend’s dad’s birthday is this weekend, and all he wants is “something chocolate.” Done!

    But maybe I’m just overly paranoid about raw eggs, but it seems off to put an egg yolk in the frosting?

    • April 7, 2011 7:24 PM

      Hi Keisha,
      Thanks for liking this post enough to bookmark it. If it helps, I’ve served this cake at countless parties and it’s always a hit. The raw egg in the frosting has never been a problem. I’ve even baked it for just me and my husband and it stays good for days. As long as you serve this to people who are not prohibited from eating raw eggs and I’m assuming you’ll be using fresh ones, I think it will be okay. In fat, I highly recommend this cake. It’s been a favorite in my home. 🙂

      If you do try it, please let me know how it goes. 🙂

      • April 11, 2011 10:26 AM

        You were right, this cake is amazing–it was gone in one day! It was so easy to make, and everyone was amazed it wasn’t from a bakery. The frosting was great, I feel silly for worrying about the raw egg now.


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