Double Chocolate Cake, Fair Trade Cocoas, & A Giveaway from Lake Champlain Chocolates

chocolate cake with chcolate glaze

Nearly a decade ago, a pan of brownies emerged from my oven that changed everything. Before discovering this recipe, I couldn’t stash enough brownie recipes away, particularly those sounding most outrageous, the ones loaded with chocolate, the more varieties the better.

What inspired me to give this recipe a go, I do not know. There is nothing eye-catching about the ingredient list — unsweetened cocoa powder is the sole chocolate product — or intriguing about the method — it’s a simple two-bowl, no-mixer job. But I did, and while I know there are lots of fantastic brownie recipes out there, I have not tried another recipe since. And every time I bite into one of these brownies, I wonder in amazement how unsweetened cocoa powder on its own can impart such a deep, intense chocolate flavor all the while producing a fudgy, moist and utterly delicious brownie.

I still do not know its secret. I am no food scientist. But over the years I have gotten better at eyeing up recipes and am not so eager to bite at the ones sounding most outrageous. In cakes and quickbreads, it’s ingredients such as buttermilk and oil (as opposed to butter) and unsweetened natural cocoa powder that catch my attention. So when I saw the ingredient list in this chocolate cake recipe on epicurious, I suspected it would be a good one. (The 1,517 positive reviews and blue ribbon decoration may have played a role in that, too.)

This cake is everything a chocolate cake should be: fudgy, moist, intensely chocolaty. When assembled into layers with chocolate ganache slathered in between, as the original recipe instructs, this cake becomes the perfect birthday finale for any chocolate lover. As a half recipe topped with black velvet icing, as pictured here, this cake becomes an elegant dessert, a perfect treat to whip up if you find yourself hurricane housebound (with any luck with your power still on) or to snack on with your morning coffee.

But as you can see, this post is not all about brownies and cake. It is about Fair Trade, foremost, and two wonderful Fair Trade products from the Lake Champlain Chocolates company. Had I been a good girl and posted at the start of the month, I would be encouraging you to do what the wonderful people at Fair Trade have been suggesting you do this month: swap one of your staple grocery items with a Fair Trade certified product, which are available at more than 100,000 locations across the country. Look for tea, coffee, chocolate, honey — all of your favorite things — with a Fair Trade Certified label and know that with each Fair Trade purchase you make you are supporting sustainable businesses that not only adhere to international environmental standards, but also empower women and support education. Read more about Fair Trade here. (This old blog post and article may be of interest, too.)

Now, just because October ends tomorrow, doesn’t mean you need to stop your Fair Trade purchases. In fact, now is the perfect time to stock up on some some Fair Trade products for the impending holiday gift-giving season. There are many Fair Trade products out there that would make wonderful gifts — Fair Trade products are often organic and always high quality — but I have two in mind: Lake Champlain Chocolates Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and Lake Champlain Chocolates Hot Chocolate. I promise I am not just saying this because LCC is going to send one of you a box of their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels (details below). I have no doubt that the LCC unsweetened cocoa powder played a role in making this chocolate cake as delectable as it was, and genuinely, the LCC hot chocolate is the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. I have been on a hot chocolate-drinking binge — sometimes three cups a day — since my LCC hot cocoa arrived earlier this month. I want to send everyone I know a tin. Also, read more about Fair Trade cocoa here.

OK, for the giveaway: As I mentioned above, LCC is going to send one box of their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels to one of you. And I, too, am going to send one of you a tin of the LCC unsweetened Fair Trade cocoa powder. Readers, if you are interested, leave a comment below. Just tell me your favorite chocolate cake recipe or your favorite recipe that uses unsweetened cocoa powder. Hope you all are safe and sound.

Update 11/2: The Giveaway is now closed. The recipient of the caramels is Emily Teel. The recipient of the cocoa powder is Jolene. I have compiled many of your cocoa-recipe suggestions below this brief explanation on the difference between Dutch-process and natural cocoa powder:

This info comes from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen:

Natural cocoa powder is produced if virtually all of the cocoa butter is removed from the cocoa liquor, leaving a dry cake that is then ground to a fine powder. Natural cocoa powder is quite acidic, so can be used as the necessary acid to activate baking soda in leavened baked goods, if present in sufficient quantity. Because of its high acidity and unpalatable bitterness, natural cocoa powder is best used only in baked or cooked desserts.

Dutch-process cocoa (also called alkalized cocoa powder) has been treated with a small quantity of an alkaline solution to reduce the natural acidity. The process darkens the cocoa’s color, making it rich, often redder brown, and gives it a smoother, more mellow flavor.

Both natural and Dutch-process cocoa have had about 75% of the cocoa fat removed.

Although some recipes can be made with wither form of cocoa powder, many rely on the properties of one or the other. For this reason, be careful when substituting Dutch-process for natural and vice versa. In recipes for baked goods using baking soda as the leavener in which no other acid is present, Dutch-process cocoa is not appropriate as it does not contain sufficient acid to activate the baking soda. (You could use Dutch process for natural cocoa but an additional acid such as cream of tartar would need to be added.) Similarly, using natural cocoa powder in a recipe originally calling for Dutch process cocoa may cause the mixture to become overly acidic. Adding a small amount of baking soda, or increasing the amount already called for, will compensate for this.

Natural cocoa is better for brownies, old-fashioned chocolate cakes and simple chocolate cookies. (Up to debate I suppose.) Dutch-process cocoa, more palatable than natural cocoa when raw, is good for icings, custards, creams and sauces that will not undergo further cooking. It has a more subtle, delicate flavor, one well suited to many to many elegant European-style cakes, biscuits, pastries and creams, and in any recipe where an overt, sharp chocolate flavor would overpower more delicate flavors. It is very good in nut cakes and ice creams, where a refined, un-bitter chocolate taste can complement the soft flavors of the other ingredients.

If the cocoa will be tasted raw, as it is when dusted on cakes, cookies or truffles, opt for Dutch-processed. If the recipe is for a traditionally rich and fudgy baked good, use the stronger flavor of natural cocoa powder.

Recipes to try:

• Gourmet’s Devil Dog Cake
The brownies from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Minny’s Chocolate Pie via the Garden of Eden
• Bon Appetit’s Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts
Flourless Chocolate Cake via House to Haus
• Good Housekeeping’s Rich Chocolate Cake
Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies on Martha Stewart Living
• David Lebovitz’s chocolate sorbet
Wacky Cake from The American Heart Association Cookbook
• Smitten Kitchen’s Brownie Roll-Out Cookies
Cook’s Country Wellesley Fudge Cake
Cocoa Almond Granola from Joy the Baker
Busy-Day Chocolate Cake from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry cookbook
Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies from the Garden of Eden
• Zoë Francois’ Not Your Average Devil’s Food Cupcake
• Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
• Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
• Molly Wizenberg’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Glaze
• Cook’s Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling
• Jim Fobel’s Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge Frosting from the Old Fashioned Baking Book.

slice of double chocolate cake

Lake Champlain Chocolates Fair Trade Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

chopped chocolate

Lake Champlain Chocolates Fair Trade Unsweetened Cocoa & pan

icing ingredients:
black velvet icing ingredients

black velvet icing

slice of double chocolate cake

Double Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing

Source: Gourmet via Epicurious (for the cake) and my grandmother (for the icing)

Notes: I have made this recipe twice now. The first time I followed the instructions and used two used 10- by 2-inch round cake pans. It came out beautifully. For this post, I used an odd-sized pan (6- by 3-inch), because I love its shape, and I made a half recipe, though all of the batter did not fit in the pan. The original recipe, too, calls for making a chocolate ganache, which sounds heavenly, but I have always adored my grandmother’s chocolate glaze recipe — it’s called black velvet icing and it contains eggs, which is odd, but it’s so good — so that is the one I use. If you want to use Gourmet’s chocolate ganache, find it here.

for the cake:
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee

3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)*
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

* It turns out that the LCC unsweetened cocoa powder, which I used for this cake, is in fact Dutch processed…I can’t read fine print apparently. I suspect that Dutch-process cocoa (which contains less acid than natural cocoa powder) is OK to use in this recipe because of the large quantity of buttermilk (also an acid) — there needs to be an acid in recipes that call for baking soda because acid activates the baking soda. I did add a note above (at the end of the main entry) explaining the difference between Dutch-process and natural cocoa powders. That might help you make a decision, but I think with this recipe, either Dutch process or natural will work just fine.

for the black velvet icing:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
a heaping 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

2. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the icing: In a small saucepan over direct heat set on low, melt the chocolate. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the eggs — a flat bottomed whisk is good for this. (I use a whisk until the ingredients are blended and then switch to a heat-proof spatula.) Cook over low to medium-low until thick. Stir in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a glass measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring or store in whatever vessel you wish.

4. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. (I removed mine after 10 minutes.) Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Remove parchment paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

5. If you are making a layer cake, spread icing over one cake layer. Top layer with other cake layer. Pour icing on top of top layer and with an off-set spatula (if you have one) spread it all over the sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving. (I just keep mine at room temperature always…no space in the fridge.)

Fair Trade products are sold at more than 100,000 locations across the U.S.:
Fair Trade Products

Both of these Fair Trade products from the Lake Champlain Chocolates company would make wonderful gifts for the holidays. They can be found at Whole Foods Market as well as online.

Lake Champlain Chocolates Fair Trade Unsweetened Cocoa & Hot Chocolate

slice of double chocolate cake


    • says

      Jami — too funny. I can’t believe I didn’t realize this was the same as on SK. I found it randomly by scrolling through the blue ribbon section of the Epicurious site — I have tried a number of their blue ribbon recipes recently, and they never fail to please!

  1. says

    I am allergic to cocoa, so I do not get to enjoy chocolate baked goodies! But my friends and family love it when I make chocolate cupcakes! More for them! These fair trade items would make great gifts!

  2. Steven says

    For cocoa, I’d have to go with either Cincinnati chili or red velvet cake. For pure chocolately evil, I’d go with double-chocolate-chip cookies.

  3. Kate says

    My favorite brownie recipe comes from a friend, and uses a half cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. His recipe is moist and fudgy (even more so because I underbake them) and absolutely delicious. I think I will have to try this cake recipe out soon – I am always on the look out for a fudgy, rich cake, yet so often they are more dry than I hoped! This new recipe may be the one I have been looking for…thanks!

  4. Hannah N. says

    My favorite recipe for unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder is my sweet potato brownies! I use unsweetened cocoa powder, mashed sweet potatoes, raw cacao nibs, coconut flour, a little nut butter and some unsweetened coconut shreds. I usually sweeten with applesauce or a coconut sugar. Delicious! This would be perfect for me because I’ve actually been on the hunt for a good chocolate powder that’s organic AND fair-trade. I’ve been using TJ’s unsweetened cocoa powder but I’ve been looking for better sourced products. I always make sure tea that I buy is organic and fair-trade! *yay* I’m glad there are chocolate products that do the same!

  5. says

    My favourite brownie recipe is also one which has no chocolate in only cocoa powder. It comes from the ,a href=””>Stone Soup blog. Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a chocolate orange loaf which also uses cocoa rather than chocolate (unusually for her) and is gorgeously chocolately, dense and moist. I’m not sure what the difference between unsweetened and dutch process cocoa powder is. Here in the UK we just call it cocoa powder and it isn’t sweetened.

  6. Emily says

    My favorite chocolate cake recipe is easily Julia Child’s Reine de Baba. Chocolate, almonds, coffee, how could you go wrong? Looking forward to trying this cake recipe and the brownie recipe you mentioned earlier!

  7. says

    my word, that’s one gloriously dark cake! i love using cocoa powder for chocolate cakes and cupcakes–melted chocolate just doesn’t pack the same punch!

  8. Carla says

    Embarrassingly, my chocolate cake always comes from the box. Where can you get Lake Champlain chocolate around here? We stock up on it when we go to Vermont but I’ve never seen it in Virginia before.

  9. kayla says

    i love anything with super dark chocolate. vegan dark chocolate pudding or super dark chocolate bark with nuts or dried fruit is delicious.

  10. says

    There’s a cookie out there that’s chocolate stuffed with peanut butter, and I really enjoy that application of unsweetened cocoa powder. They’re sometimes called Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies. Yum! Would love to make them with fair trade deliciousness!

  11. MaryB says

    I was going to say brownies but I think I have to change to the recipe above. It sounds AWESOME and I will be making it next week. Thanks for offering the giveaway.

  12. says

    I love using Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe. Though I am going to have to try this cake recipe too…I think I started to drool a little looking at the photos. :)

  13. Virginia says

    I love the chocolate cake recipe in my Hershey’s Chocolate Recipe Book!

    But I will try the recipe above. It looks and sounds delicious!

  14. Jennifer Wilson says

    I just made a chocolate loaf cake with fresh cranberries. It uses cocoa powder and is so moisty and fudgy and wonderful with the fresh tartness of whole cranberries!

  15. shannon says

    I have to say, Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake is just that. Super easy and just chocolaty enough that whomever you give it to feels treated. It uses unsweetened cocoa powder and no other chocolate. I make it regularly for my crew on our organic salad greens farm as it also uses common pantry items, nearly always on hand, and they love it. This cake, however, looks like what you should make when you want something really special.

  16. Jamie says

    So far it is Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. I am always on the look out for the perfect recipe. I will definitely be trying this one, looks so dark and rich. I just recently found your website by accident and LOVE it. I’m embarrassed to say that I looked through your entire blog. It took me a couple of days but I just kept seeing one great recipe after another =) Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  17. Long says

    My favorite chocolate cake recipe using unsweetened cocoa is actually the recipe you just posted; except I got to it via Smitten Kitchen and she added a raspberry puree. I’ve made this cake so many times (even scaled for a friend’s wedding cake), it’s memorized. To me, it really is the gold standard for chocolate cake.

  18. says

    as much as i love sweets and chocolate i don’t find myself making too many chocolate cakes! the best one I’ve made was a pumpkin chocolate bundt cake, perfect this time of year :)

  19. christine says

    My favorite chocolate cake recipe is one of my Mom’s that just uses unsweetned cocoa, is unintentionally vegan, and uses apple-cider vinegar for the rise. It is delicate, completely chocolaty due to the lack of diluting dairy fats, and pairs perfectly with a salted caramel cream cheese frosting.

  20. Bridgett Beal says

    I just rediscovered the recipe for Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling which appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. My son requested them for his birthday this weekend, and I had forgotten how good they are, so they are my current favorite recipe with cocoa powder.

  21. Patty says

    My favorite icing is made with unsweetened cocoa and cooked on the stove with butter then powdered sugar whipped in. It sets up like fudge on a cake.

  22. Deborah says

    A favorite recipe using unsweetened cocoa comes from Jim Fobel’s Old Fashioned Baking Book. It’s his recipe for his grandmother’s Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge Frosting (frosting uses unsweetened chocolate). He calls it a light chocolate cake – not so! Deep, rich, and dark it has been the standard birthday cake since 1988 for my twins. The only modification has been the addition of raspberry filling in addition to the frosting. No matter how much experimenting or worldly palate dishes have been introduced over the years this remains THE cake.

  23. Sara says

    My favorite recipe that uses cocoa is my mother’s chocolate frosting recipe that has to be at least 70 years old by now. I’ve made it so often, I know it by heart, and, to me, it’s the only possible chocolate frosting. I’ll have to try it with this cocoa.

  24. says

    My favorite chocolate cake so far is Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. It’s so rich, moist and tastes deeply of chocolate thanks to coffee and buttermilk. Delicious! Friends who have tried it said it’s the best chocolate cake they’ve ever had.

  25. KG says

    I have a brownie recipe that I’m not sure is beatable. I have tried so many recipes, and I always get feedback from various sources (family, friends, fellow college students, etc.) and it is THE brownie recipe from chocoholics, sweet teeth, and savory lovers alike. Even a guy I know who doesn’t like chocolate (I know, crazy, right?) came back for seconds.

  26. says

    My favorite chocolate treat is Soffice Cuore di Cioccolato con Gocce di Crema Vaniglia (warm soft heart chocolate cake with a drop of vanilla sauce). Discovered it 10 years ago at a cooking class in Italy. It uses 5 oz. of dark chocolate and makes 4 baking tins worth so you get your very own cake. When you cut into it, molten chocolate sauce begins to pour out. Heaven!

  27. Gaby says

    My favorite chocolate cake recipe is from Good Housekeeping magazine. It was touted as the best chocolate cake – ever…I haven’t found a better one yet, but I crazily keep trying new recipes and I shall try this one, too. I would say that you can’t imagine how excited I am to embark on this project, but I think you understand completely. :)

  28. Karen says

    That cake looks divine. My favorite unsweetened cocoa recipe is from Bon Appetit: Cocoa Brownies with brown butter and walnuts, February 2011. It is amazing. I’ve loved reading your blog, and your no knead oatmeal bread and almond butter are huge hits in my house. Thank you!

  29. Julia says

    Love all things chocolate! But the most recent fave is crazy intense chocolate sorbet (Perfect Scoop via SmittenKitchen). Thanks!

  30. Alexandra says

    My favorite cake recipe is a pumpkin chocolate cake. It’s always so moist and delicious!! Perfect for the coming holidays :)

  31. Barb says

    Cake looks delicious! Chocolate crinkle cookies at Christmas are a family favorite using unsweetened cocoa powder.

  32. says

    Oh my goodness, those look incredible. Incredibrownies!

    I love making hot cocoa with unsweetened cocoa power. It tastes better from scratch, especially with a dash of cinnamon!

  33. Amanda says

    Beautiful! I love baking with unsweetened cocoa powder because it is so simple and you can really control the flavor. My current favorite has been a macaroon-type cookie with cocoa powder, coconut flakes and oats, but I see hot chocolate in my future!

  34. Jillian says

    My favorite “unsweetened chocolate” recipe has to be the Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes my friend gave me a few years back. The addition of buttermilk and coffee to the recipe only makes them more yummerific. Can’t wait to try your recipe above!! Tis the season for chocolatey treats!!

  35. Renee says

    My latest chocolate cake love is Huntington Chocolate Cake from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, but I will certainly try this one next!

  36. Sara says

    An old food processor recipe sampled at Macy’s in the 80’s is my go-to chocolate recipe made with cocoa powder. But I will be trying your recipe for my father-in-law’s upcoming birthday!

  37. Jillian_R says

    My favorite recipe is a sheetpan cake that my grandmother wrote down. We eat that cake all the time andit is so good! It is a common recipe but our family loves it.

    THank you for the giveaway! That chocoalte looks delish!!

  38. Denise says

    Alas, I have no favorite recipe to share, though I think you’re looks like it could be ‘the one’. I will have to try it.
    Request: Can you go into the particulars some day, of the different cocoas? When do you want dutch process – why and why not? etc.? Some of us might have better success if we knew the in-s and outs of what works with what. (I have heard don’t use aluminum baking powder with acids, for example ) same with some cocoa powders…don’t use such and such with buttermilk and so on. Thanks.

  39. Anne says

    My favorite chocolate cake using unsweetened cocoa powder is called “Wacky Cake.” There are several versions around; I use the one from The American Heart Association Cookbook. Wacky Cake became popular during the Depression, when cooks needed to make desserts without expensive ingredients.

    It takes less than 5 minutes to put it together, and it mixes right in the pan, so there’s not even a bowl to wash. Love it!

  40. jennifer says

    My favorite chocolate cake recipe is from cook’s country it is the wellesley fudge cake, it is light and airy, and quite easy to make with a 4yr old and 6 yr old. Your chocolate cake looks divine! My mouth is watering, I can’t wait to make it :)

  41. barbara n says

    My favorite chocolate cake recipe is called Busy-Day Chocolate Cake. It comes from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s “Mad Hungry” cookbook and all the ingredients are mixed right in the pan before baking

  42. Sara George says

    I like making my chocolate mint cake with unsweetened cocoa. I feel the unsweetened cocoa helps control how it taste and adds alot of richness to the cake.

  43. Carmen says

    I’ve been making Zoë Francois’ ( and co-author of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”) Not Your Average Devil’s Food Cupcake as cupcakes and a layer cake for a couple of years now. This is a somewhat similar using cocoa, buttermilk, vegetable oil and I will definitely try this one too. Love love love chocolate!!!

  44. says

    OH man! That chocolate cake looks moist and DELICIOUS! It looks moist — is it??

    I’m a brownie-a-holic. I love any chocolate, the darker and fudgier the better. My favorite thing to make is hot chocolate (guittard or lake champlain… I’m a VTer) or better yet, homemade Magic Shell – you know the stuff that hardens when you put it on ice cream. I use coconut oil to make it at home. SO much better. And don’t even get me started on coconut oil brownies. Fudgy gooey, but crisp and caramelized around the edges…

  45. andreag says

    Tiramisu! Unsweetened cocoa power between the layers of ladyfingers and custard made from scratch. There are no crumbs, dusts, or any bits of chocolate left on any plates.

    I am just discovering LCC and can’t wait to taste the treats I just ordered.

  46. says

    I’ve been making this cake for years, although I know it as “Far From Disaster Cake” and I found the recipe on Orangette’s blog, jeez.. 5 years ago? It is by far THE BEST chocolate cake ever! :)

  47. says

    I am crazy for anything with hazelnuts and chocolate and love “crinkle cookies” with both theses ingredients using unsweetened cocoa powder. Your cake looks amazing!

  48. jolene says

    Hi Alexandra, such a big fan of your site!! I’m itching to bake this. I have a few questions:

    1. For the link for the Lake Champlain cocoa powder, it says that the cocoa powder is Dutch processed. Would it be ok to use Dutch processed cocoa powder in this recipe? I’m assuming that is the cocoa powder you used for your lovely cake.

    2. For the frosting, do the eggs need to be tempered prior to putting it into the melted chocolate? I can just picture myself ending up with a mixture of chocolate and scrambled eggs…

    Thank you for your wonderful blog!! Can’t wait to make the brownies too. The most recent chocolate cake I made was David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Idiot Cake that I made with a very expensive bag of TCHO chocolates. YUM.

    • says

      Jolene — Thank you for pointing out that LCC cocoa powder is in fact Dutch process. I had no idea that it was until you pointed this out. I did a little research on the difference between Dutch process and natural cocoa powder (added the explanation in the blog post, too), and I have come up with an explanation as to why I think it is OK to use Dutch process in this recipe: Dutch-process cocoa (which contains less acid than natural cocoa powder) is OK to use in this recipe because of the large quantity of buttermilk (also an acid) — there needs to be an acid in recipes that call for baking soda because acid activates the baking soda.

      Also, the eggs for the icing do not need to be tempered. I was a little wary when I started making the recipe — it had been a few years — and I was tempted to melt the chocolate in a double boiler even, but I called my mother and she reassured me that direct heat works just fine. So as long as you take your time melting the chocolate over low heat and that you beat your eggs in a separate bowl before adding them to the pot, you will be fine. The key is keeping the temperature really low until the eggs have been added and then increasing it just slightly to help it thicken before you whisk in the butter. I hope that helps.

  49. says

    Our family favorite is deep, dark brownies. A scoop of vanilla ice may be required! The photo is just wondrous and depicts the exceptional chocolate as it sparkles and taunts us! What a scrumptious cake!

  50. Lark says

    My fav chocolate cake comes from the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder container: Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake. I’ve used it for many years to make cupcakes for my sons. I add 1 tsp espresso powder to the cake recipe to give it some depth. If I leave it out, my sons notice!

    One son is lactose intolerant and I can substitute lactose-free milk with good results. Instead of using the chocolate frosting recipe from the tin, I make buttercream frosting and add peppermint oil. I’ve seen this mint/chocolate combo referred to as “Grasshopper.” I think it tastes like Jr. Mints. The contrasting white frosting on black cake is pretty.

  51. Kathi says

    My favorite recipe using unsweetened cocoa is from Alice Medrich, the queen of all things chocolate: Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. Published in the February 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, you can find it on I am a brownie nut, have tried many recipes, and I can’t stop eating these. I’ve shared the recipe with and baked batches for everyone I know!

  52. Cathy says

    That cake looks amazing, going to try it this weekend. My favorite chocolate cake recipe is Guiness Chocolate Cake. It too is made in one bowl, no electric mixer required, and the sour cream frosting is just perfect with it, not too sweet.

  53. says

    My favorite unsweetened cocoa powder recipe is so simple. Healthy “ice cream” involved mashing 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, and 1 small scoop of peanut butter. The taste and consistency is just like ice cream or frozen yogurt and it’s way better for you!

  54. Harvitron says

    My favorite cocoa-powder recipe is no-bake chocolate/peanut butter/oatmeal cookies! Now that I’m thinking about them, I might have to make some tonight!

  55. says

    This cake looks amazing, and those brownies sound amazing! I use the Epicurious recipe often too, unless I’m making layer cakes, because I find it a little gummy for layers. And that list of things to make with the cocoa – pure, pure sin!

  56. Katykat says

    I was looking at this recipe last night and realized I had all of the ingredients already to put it together, so I decided to just go ahead and make it. It was really not a very involved process –except for making the coffee–and I’m eating the cake cold right now and it is DELICIOUS, I will definitely be making this chocolate cake again! oh Ali my savior in the kitchen!

  57. says

    Hi Alexandra
    I’m disappointed I missed the competition, oh well. Thanks so much for taking the time to teach us so much about Fair Trade products. I love cooking with chocolate and try to make something every week.
    Now that you have encouraged me to use these products I will find my local outlet and give them a go.
    One cake I recently made was a chocolate pudding cake. I should have the recipe on my website Chocolate Recipes by Friday Nov 9th.
    This cake looks amazing and when I took it to work to share with my colleagues, they too were impressed (and that was even before I had cut it up).
    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your interesting info. Happy baking!

  58. Ttrockwood says

    My mom’s “secret recipe” for german chocolate cake has cocoa powder, and although i havent made it myself (yet!) the depth of flavor is incomparable!

  59. Ttrockwood says

    Above comment for chocolate “magic shell” is sooooo easy! Just melt together chocolate with coconut oil (1/2c chocolate chips with 1TB coconut oil) let cool and when room temperature pour on ice cream or dunk cookies/whatever in it and put in fridge until shell sets

  60. Elizabeth says

    Hey!! My husband is a chocoholic, but a hater of coffee. How strong is the coffee flavor here? I like to follow recipes exactly, but don’t want to be the only one eating an entire cake!! Would water be an acceptable sub??

    • says

      Elizabeth, hi! The coffee flavor is hardly detectable. I wouldn’t even know it was there if I hadn’t made it myself or looked at the recipe. I have heard that coffee enhances chocolate flavor, so while I think water would be an acceptable substitution — seriously, if you are worried at all, just use water — part of me feels that coffee adds to the flavor of the cake in a non-coffee way if that makes sense. Good luck with it. It is SO good.

    • says

      Danielle — the coffee taste is undetectable. I have heard that the presence of coffee tends to heighten the flavor of chocolate. I wouldn’t worry about using it. Happy baking!

  61. Ashley says

    I made this cake a couple of years ago with the ganache… heavenly. I called it “the best chocolate cake in the entire world”. I knew after just one lick of the spatula that I’d found a gem of a recipe. I am SO excited to see that you too have discovered it!

    I’m happy that you decided to go with a glaze after choosing not to use the ganache. the third time I baked this cake I used a lighter, chocolate buttercream and it did no justice to the recipe.


  62. says

    Ali – this one is a winner! I made it for a NYE party last night (along with cheese straws) and it was AWESOME! pretty sure that’s the first cake from scratch I’ve ever baked (carrot cake doesn’t really count). :) Happy new year!

    • says

      Linds — so happy to hear this! Isn’t it a good one? Also Happy New Year! Also, I need to email you…have been meaning to do so for months it seems. Hope you are staying warm!

  63. tina says

    I just made this cake and it tastes delicious, but I wasn’t sure how thick to get the icing and I don’t think it was thick enough because it soaked into the cake a bit and was more drizzle-able than spreadable. I also didn’t think there was enough icing to cover the whole cake, though that might have been because it was too thin and soaked in. What consistancy should I look for when cooking the icing? It seemed thicker to me and I thought it would thicken more as it cooled, but it didn’t much. It also was no where near as “black” as the photograph. But that could have been the chocolate I used, which was Baker’s chocolate brand semi-sweet. Or maybe because I didn’t cook it long enough. The flavor is fantastic, it just wasn’t a very pretty cake and there didn’t seem to be enough icing.

    • says

      Tina — So sorry to hear about the trouble with the icing. It’s always frustrating when things don’t turn out as you expect especially when you put a lot of effort in to making a cake and icing from scratch :( Just glad to hear that you are happy with the flavor. Getting the consistency of the icing is definitely tricky. Before I decided on blogging about this cake in fact, I had made a different chocolate cake with the same icing recipe. I hadn’t made the icing in awhile, and I think I did what you did — I made the sauce a little too thin. The next time I made the icing, I went a little more slowly, and made sure to really whisk the chocolate and confectioners sugar until smooth, and then I slowly whisked in the eggs and stirred constantly until it was thick — I think this is the part where things can go wrong. If you add the butter before the mixture thickens up, I don’t think there’s much hope in getting it to the right consistency. You definitely have to be whisking or stirring constantly after the eggs have been added to be sure that they don’t curdle, and you also have to be patient to make sure the icing gets to that right thickness. I should really make this again and post an update in the instructions. I also used Baker’s brand semi-sweet chocolate, so I don’t think that was the issue. I think not cooking it long enough is what caused it to not glaze properly as well as to not look as black. And mine definitely thickened as it cooled. I had it in a pyrex liquid measuring cup, and I could barely pour it out when it had completely cooled. I had to warm it in a water bath to loosen it up. As for quantity, I feel like it should be enough for one whole cake, but I did make a half recipe. I had a lot left over, which is why I say that it should be enough for a whole cake, and this is the same quantity that we pour over an angel food cake, and it always covers it sufficiently. Now, were you hoping to cover both an inner layer as well as the whole outer layer? There might not be enough for that. I hope this answers some questions, and again, I am so sorry for the trouble. It’s never fun when these issues arrise.

  64. Rose says

    I was just wondering …. do you know that the coffee also adds acidity to this recipe?? So maybe that is why it works with the Dutch Chocolate.

    This cake looks so good, I can’t waite to try it!!

    One more question, have you ever tried using the icing as a filling in your cake or cupcakes? I thought it would be like a chocolate lava cake if placed in straw size holes made on the cake/cup cakes.

    Thanks for sharing!!


    • says

      Rose — you are so smart! I hadn’t even thought about that but you are absolutely right. Thanks for pointing that out. I have not tried the icing recipe as a filling recipe, but I think that sounds fantastic. It would make the moistest most delicious little cupcakes. Must try that soon!

    • says

      Nasreen — I would imagine water is fine, but may I just try to convince you to use the coffee? The flavor of the coffee is almost undetectable, yet somehow it enhances the chocolate flavor — so essentially, more chocolaty flavor and very little coffee flavor. Make sense?

  65. Shay says

    I made this last night. OH so good! I did a different take on the icing though.

    I added a dash of milk to the melting chocolate. Instead of adding whole eggs, I only added egg whites. Which I beat until light and fluffy, then I folded them in. I had no issue with curdling, but still whisked it all really good. For flavor, I put blood orange zest and juice into the icing. It was so light, and ran over the cake beautifully.

    Thank you for posting this recipe! It was my first cake from scratch, and I fell in love with it!

    • says

      Shay — wonderful to hear this! And your icing sounds incredible — so inventive and flavorful. I love the combination of orange and chocolate, so I know I would love this. Thanks so much for writing in!

  66. Fuchsia says

    ahh I finallly made this gorgeous chocolate cake, I also halved the recipe, didn’t make a glaze for it. But seriously this is a great and east recipe. I was scared because the mixture wasn’t thick but it came out great. raised well, I used a 3inch by 8 inch round tin.

    I tried it the day I made it, but it was 100 times better when we tried it a day after, it was fudgier, gooey, very moist. People try it out, and add the coffee, I hate coffee but didn’t taste a hint of it (I just remembered I put it in the mixture).

    • says

      Fuchsia — wonderful to hear this and thanks for sending other commenters encouragement regarding the coffee — you really wouldn’t know it was in there but some how it’s essential. And this is definitely one of those cakes that tastes better on subsequent days. So good to know this, especially if you need to make something in advance for a special occasion. I think it would make an awesome wedding cake.

  67. Terrie says

    Wow!!! Yuuuummm!!! I just made this cake and icing recipe but baking up cupcakes and I am in love!!! I am a chocoholic and this hits the spot!!! Thank you for sharing such a fabulous recipe!!! :-)

  68. wanda andrade says

    Amei sua receita .Sou chocolatra e Instrutora quando vi disse esta é a receita .obrigada por dividir .Moro em Manaus Amazonas Brasil.

  69. Terrie says

    Also I put the icing as the filling for the cupcake and whipped up a fluffy icing using granulated sugar so the icing was almost marshmallow like. It was a hit!! Thanks again for this AMAZING chocolate recipe! 😉

  70. Brenda says

    Thank you for this amazing cake recipe!! I made this for a friend’s birthday party. I used an unsweetened, natural raspberry jam for a filling between the layers and a chocolate ganache on top. It was a perfect moist, rich, chocolate explosion! People at the party kept asking which bakery I bought it from! This is going to be my new stand-by cake recipe. Thank you!

  71. Heather says

    Just made this for Mother’s Day. AMAZING! It is such a dense, moist cake with a wonderful chocolate flavor. I didn’t change a thing. PERFECT RECIPE!

  72. Melissa says

    This cake looks sooooo delicious! Do you think it would handle a layer of cheesecake between 2 cake layers? It looks super fudgey so I am worried that it might not be stiff enough to hold the weight.

  73. Terrie says

    I finally made the recipe with cake pans instead of cupcakes and both pans the cake fell in the center a little….I did open the oven before this happened, could that have been why! I’m in Cali so no high altitude :(.

    • says

      Terrie — sorry to hear this. What size cake pans were you using? I don’t think opening the oven could have really affected the cakes’ structure. My only thought is that maybe the cakes needed a little more time in the oven. Often when cakes are underdone, they sink in the middle. Or, if you used deeper pans (smaller in diameter), then the cakes definitely would need a little more time in the oven. I used odd-shaped pans for one batch of this recipe bc I liked the tall shape of the pans, and I had to bake the cake for much longer bc the center was just not done. Hope that helps and so sorry for th trouble.

  74. kate says

    Can you taste the coffee in the cake? I do not like coffee, but i heard it intensifies the chocolate flavor.

  75. Terrie says

    Alexandra – I used two 8″ square pans which are a little deeper then the rounds it seems like so yea, that could have been it. Good thought. :o)
    Is there a specific reason why you bake this cake at 300 instead of a typical 325?

  76. Terrie says

    Katie…once the coffee is baked into the cake, no you can not taste the coffee…it does indeed intensify the chocolate taste! :o) This is my opinion on Alexandra’s recipe.

  77. Hadley says

    Could you use chocolate chips in both the cake & frosting instead of blocks of chocolate? I made this recently & it was wonderful! However I want to make it again but have limited time & I felt like it took me forever to chop the chocolate up. Thanks!

  78. says

    This chocolate cake is AMAZING. Something that you would have at a restaurant that you always talk about. My mom made this and I did as well. Everyone that tried it thought it was just fantastic.

    I love all of your recipes, you are truly gifted!

  79. Brooke says

    I love this cake!! I made it for my moms birthday a few weeks ago and it was a total hit. I might have polished off the leftovers from the fridge over the next week 😉

    Question – Have you ever made this cake recipe in cupcake form? Can you estimate the cooking time needed for standard non-stick cupcake pans?

    • says

      yay! I think I might have to make this cake in cupcake form for my son’s upcoming birthday. Ok, I would say 20 to 25 minutes at 350ºF. Good luck with it! I’ll report back if I make them in cupcake form.

  80. Kate Bayless says

    Holy sweet mother of chocolate! I’m often so-so on cakes. They are often dry, lacking in flavor and often seem not worth the calories. THIS cake, however, was life-changing. Amazing. Delicious day 1 and day 3 after being in the fridge. I didn’t imagine that mine would come out looking as decadent and moist and fudgey as your picture did, but it did. I may never make another kind of cake again. I am ruined in the best way possible. :)

    • says

      Yesssss. I am so happy to hear this! I felt exactly the same way as you when I first made it. I had no idea that this kind of chocolate cake could be this good/worth the calories. I think my mouth just watered a little bit thinking about it. It’s obviously been too long since I’ve made this cake. So happy you approve! And I know, how nice that it still tastes amazing days later?!

  81. Caitlyn Malone says

    Just made this and the cake turned out AMAZING! It’s so good and moist! But from some reason when I made the icing the butter just wouldn’t mix. It sits on top leaving my icing lumpy and looking like a mess! Any ideas?

    • says

      So happy to hear about the cake! It’s one of my favorites, too. OK, the icing, I have to admit, is a tricky/weird recipe, and it never feels right melting the chocolate over direct heat, but once you get the hang of it, it works well. The key is to just melt the chocolate slowly, and to add the eggs one at a time, mixing/stirring/cooking well after each addition, otherwise the mixture won’t thicken up. I feel like I need to revisit this method because several people have had issues with it. I’m sorry for the trouble :(

  82. jane says

    hello. i love your chocolate cake BUT i couldnt make the icing right :( :( it usually lump up on me when i start to mix in the eggs…. any tips to make this icing a success?

    • says

      Jane, I’m so sorry to hear this! You are not the only one who has had trouble with this recipe. The key is to go really slowly over low heat, but I think I need to revisit this recipe because I hate thinking about people wasting ingredients. I will report back soon. I’m so sorry :(

  83. Heather says

    I think the secret to the icing is to alternate adding the sugar and the eggs to the melted chocolate. Use a whisk, and just stir til your arm falls off. Then add the butter a Tbs. at a time, and stir til your arm falls off.

  84. Melissa says

    I just made the cake today. I used two 8″ round pans and poured a little leftover batter into a square pan for “tasting”. It took about an hour and 10 min for 8″ pans on 300°.

    I used Heather’s method for icing, which worked well.

  85. says

    I tried making this cake and the cake itself is beautiful and delicious!! Didnt know it would make so much batter! but its so moist and perfect! Just what I was looking for. I just didnt like the taste of the icing :( I made it perfectly, reading into the comments and finding out what I should do. But the taste wasnt so super :( I havent iced the cake yet and I will try it out and hope its complementing to it :)Thanks Alexandra!

    • says

      Huma, hi! And sorry for the delay here…I’ve been playing catch up ever since returning from WI a few weeks ago. Glad to hear the cake turned out well. Sorry to hear about the icing. How did it taste on the cake? What kind of chocolate did you use? I’m wondering if that had something to do with it.

  86. Carly Jor says

    My favorite use for unsweetened cocoa powder is using a tablespoon of it in a nut butter and instantly make chocolate nut butter,much healthier and less sugar (AND SO MUCH CHEAPER) than nutella. Yum!

  87. Myra says

    Also tried the icing and came out lumpy, even after trying Heather’s suggestion. Oh well. Might try the ganache next time. Thanks for what looks like an amazing cake. (:

  88. says

    This cake is so incredible, I made it last night and frosted it with some ganache and clementine zest. The citrus flavor really adds to it. Thank you for this wonderful recipe and detailed description!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *