Tag Archives: chocolate cake

chocolate birthday cake

So this is a few weeks late, but I have to mention my lovely birthday cake and updates to my lovely go-to chocolate cake recipe. Earlier this year, I posted about a chocolate cake recipe I found from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, and any time I want chocolate cake this is what I use and trust. So for my birthday, I volunteered to bake my own cake (because I do what I want on my birthday!) and decided chocolate cake was the obvious answer. I browsed some new frosting recipes, let my brain daydream about flavor combinations, and eventually got the idea to do a two-layer chocolate cake, WITH peanut buter cream cheese filling, AND chocolate ganache frosting. Oh yes. I was so excited in that moment that I sketched the whole thing out so I wouldn’t forget such a brilliant combination. Peanut butter frosting is always delicious, and so is cream cheese frosting, and I have absolutely no idea why it took me this long to combine the two. And this is the first time I’ve made chocolate ganache. I knew of it, but I was always intimidated because it just sounded fancy. Well, it looks it, but it’s really, really easy. So yeah, I may start celebrating my half-birthday, and quarter-birthday just so I can have an excuse to eat this again.

Find my chocolate cake recipe here.


  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick), at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (add a little more or less to taste)
  • 2/3 c. smooth peanut butter


Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Continue to beat until light and fluffy and smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips (I used these)


Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Scald the heavy cream in a saucepan. I learned that “scalding” is when you heat the cream (or milk and such) and tiny bubbles start to form around the edges (but it’s NOT boiling). Make sure to stir the cream while it heats to prevent scorching. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but make sure to bring to room temperature before using . I made mine the night before I baked the cake, and then took it out to set on the counter about 4 hours before I needed to use it. When researching how to make chocolate ganache, I came across this site which shows three different variations on using ganache. It’s pretty interesting!



Filed under cake, chocolate, dessert, holidays, recipes

just a chocolate cake

yes, that’s right. just your simple, unfancy one layer chocolate cake. sometimes that is all you need to be happy. and sometimes you just want to eat chocolate. this is one of those times. there was no special occasion. no birthdays, no holidays, no large group of people to share a cake with. it was just a day where we thought, “hey, how about a chocolate cake?” okay, sure.

most of the time in the past my family would just pick up a boxed cake mix at the grocery store if we ever had one of these cravings. but lately i’ve managed to guilt everyone in my family to making most baked things from scratch. i don’t mean to be so snobby about it. but i just explain that i have a food blog to maintain, and then it’s okay. homemade things do come across as intimidating at first i must admit too. sometimes i also get carried away thinking about all of the processed stuff that is probably in those mixes when i’m on a health kick (i like how i use the phrase health kick when i’m here talking about baking cakes…). but besides there being processed things found in packaged mixes, homemade food almost always tastes better. especially cakes. you really can’t compare store bought cakes and mixes to the reward of making a cake all by yourself from the very beginning. or if you receive a homemade cake for your birthday or whatever other holiday. it’s so special. i’m pushing homemade here because this cake was not at all complicated. i’m also sharing it because this is the first time i’ve made this recipe, and it was one of those where after the first bite you say “oh yeah we’ve got to save this one.”

it’s a really dark looking cake, but not too dark-chocolatey. the secret ingredient is coffee and i think that is what makes the chocolate taste so uh-mazing. i’ve always wanted to write that. to make the cake all pretty, we made homemade buttercream vanilla frosting to contrast with the almost black cake. and to be very unfancy, we used just a 9×13 sized cake pan to keep it one layered and simple. according to the ina garten’s recipe, this will make enough if you want be fancy and make a two layer round cake. by the way, i want to mention that ina garten is one of my most favorite food personalities, along with the handsome jamie oliver.

an extra note: i learned how to make a substitute for buttermilk when making this cake. a lot of homemade chocolate cake recipes call for buttermilk and i almost never have it on hand to just use whenever. i usually buy it when i  have a specific recipe in mind. and even then, i almost always have some left that ends up going bad before i find another use for it. this time we didn’t have it so we stopped by the local grocery store, but they were fresh out on the saturday evening that we wanted cake. i’ll give up on buttermilk before i give up on chocolate cake. below the recipe is the how-to.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home

cake ingredients:

  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 and 3/4 c. all purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk**
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. freshly brewed hot coffee

**buttermilk subsitute: place a tablespoon of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the 1-cup line. then pour this mixture into a small bowl, so that the vinegar gets tossed in to the milk a bit. let stand for 5 minutes. then simply use in place of the buttermilk in the recipe.


preheat the oven to 350° F. brew some coffee if you haven’t already. butter and flour a 9×13 cake pan, or two 8-inch round cake pans. whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a big bowl. in another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. then, slowly stir in the hot coffee. stir until just combined. pour the batter into the prepared pans, scraping the edges with a rubber spatula. bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. remove the cake and cool in the pan on a wirerack. meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

buttercream frosting ingredients:

  • 3  3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened or at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

buttercream frosting directions:

beat together the powdered sugar and the butter in a medium bowl. you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or just a spoon. mix until it’s an even consistency. stir in the milk and vanilla extract until everything is evenly incorporated. wait until the cake is completely cooled to frost. don’t be afraid to make it look slightly messy and fully homemade.


Filed under cake, dessert, recipes