Rich Chocolate Cake

I found the recipe for this cake in an old issue of Gourmet magazine (Feb. 2004).  Sob – it was so sad to see that magazine fold last year.

My usual go to chocolate cake recipe is Ina Garten’s from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  I like to use a ganache frosting from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything:  Simple Recipes for Great Food since I was never much of a butter cream frosting gal.  However, this chocolate cake from Gourmet has changed me.  The frosting is more of a custard cream, rather than a butter cream, though believe me, there is a lot of butter in it!  It is a truly decadent frosting to go with a truly decadent cake.

The cake is not over sweet though.  It is moist with a tender crumb and a strong, deep chocolate flavor.  The frosting is light and creamy and chocolate-y, and I have to say, a bit addicting.

I  lightened the recipe by omitting an egg yolk, 1/3 cup sugar, and a whole stick of butter from the frosting recipe.  I also used low fat dairy alternatives, but the calorie count is still pretty astronomical.  It makes you realize how many calories are packed into restaurant desserts, and why it is probably best to share a slice, rather than eat the whole thing by yourself!   So make and enjoy this cake with caution —it’s perfect for a special occasion.

Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting


2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup plus about 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened as room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

¾ cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs at room temperature

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cups low-fat plain yogurt

1 cup low-fat milk


2/3 cup low-fat milk

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 sticks unsalted butter cut into tablespoon pieces and softened

8 oz semisweet chocolate chips

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

  1. Make cake.  Chop unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and microwave at defrost setting for about 60 seconds.  Stir to remove any lumps remaining.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray the bottoms of two (9-inch by 2-inch) round cake pans and line with parchment paper.  Spray again and dust with a tablespoon of cocoa powder.  Shake out remaining cocoa.
  3. Sift or whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together yogurt and milk in a large measuring cup or medium bowl.  Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl using a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes (or 4-5 minutes if using a handheld).  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add chocolate and vanilla and beat until just combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/3 of milk mixture.  Repeat twice until just combined.
  4. Divided batter between pans, spreading evenly, and bake until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in the center, about 25-35 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes from pans onto racks, peel off parchment paper, and let cool to room temperature.
  5. Make frosting.  Heat milk in a heavy saucepan on medium heat until hot.  Whisk together yolks, flour, and 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  Add hot milk in a slow stream while whisking.  Transfer custard back to saucepan and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking continuously for about 1-2 minutes.  Mixture will be very thick.  Transfer custard to a large bowl and cover with saran wrap to prevent a skin from forming on surface of custard.  Cool completely, about 45 minutes.
  6. While custard is cooling, melt and cool unsweetened chocolate and semisweet chocolate as described above.
  7. Add vanilla and remaining confectioner’s sugar to custard and beat with mixer at moderate speed.  Increase speed to medium high and add butter to mixture two pieces at a time until smooth.  Add chocolates and beat to combine well.
  8. Frost cake.  Halve each cake horizontally using a long serrated knife.  I usually measure the cake layer and mark the half way point with a toothpick all around the cake at two inch intervals.  When there are toothpicks all around the cake layer, then you can see where to make the cut.  Layer cake, using a heaping ½ cup frosting for each layer, then frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

Adapted from Gourmet’s (February 2004) Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting recipe.

Calorie counts based on the nutritional analysis of ingredients in the datatbase:

Original Version (for 1/18th portion of cake)

Calories:  542 cals

Fat:  36 g

Saturated Fat:  21 g

Cholesterol:  112.6 mg

Protein:  7.3 g

Sodium:  164 mg

Carbohydrates:  53.2 g

Fiber:  3 g

Sugars:  37 g

My Version (for 1/18th portion of cake)

Calories:  479 cals

Fat:  28 g

Saturated Fat:  16.5 g

Cholesterol:  85.6 mg

Protein:  6.5 g

Sodium:  155 mg

Carbohydrates:  52 g

Fiber:  2.4 g

Sugars:  34.5 g


Filed under Desserts

8 responses to “Rich Chocolate Cake

  1. Hi Melissa-
    My favorite chocolate cake is Brown Velvet Cake with Dark Fudge Frosting from Damon Lee Fowler’s New Southern Baking. I make it every year for my own birthday! I have no idea the calories, and don’t want to know! I will definitely give your recipe a try.

  2. I’ll have to look that up!
    I still remember the beautiful chocolate cake with white chocolate decorations you made for my shower. 🙂

  3. yummy…
    interesting blog you have.

  4. That looks so good!
    I like how you photographed the cake outdoors. In my mind I’m having a pic-nic with your cake. I need some chocolate 😦

    Alba H. Rodriguez

  5. This looks like a great cake to try! I love chocolate cakes so much and like you, I also tend to prefer a ganache instead of buttercream. Your post has me tempted to try this one though 🙂

  6. WOW I love this cake, your whole blog is fabulous and wonderful Melissa really 🙂

  7. Pingback: Versatile Blogger and Beautiful Blogger Awards | Big A, Little A

  8. this looks so moist & rich. Perfection 🙂

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