January 7th, 2009

beatty’s chocolate cake

cake 3

this is probably not a great post to start off the new year. if you make this recipe, i can pretty much guarantee it will ruin any attempt at a new years resolution to eat healthier. in fact, it’s happening to me. like right now. as in, i’m eating this cake as i type this post and i can’t stop – and although i feel a little guilty, it’s just too good to put down.

chocolate cake 3

you have to understand, this is an ina garten cake – yes, THAT ina garten cake. i think it’s made its rounds on the food blogosphere already, but i’ve only just discovered it (thanks to the girl and her copy of ina garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home), and now i’ve converted to the church of chocolate cake. the problem with most chocolate cakes is that they end up too dense and crumbly. since this one is loaded with buttermilk, it’s incredibly moist and delectable, even a week later. the frosting is smooth, rich and still gives a good flavor contrast to the cake.



sure, you can make this recipe and stack it like a normal 2-tier cake. but if you want to “class it up,” do what i did and get some biscuit cutters of varying sizes and create some new cake shapes. then, because both the cake and frosting have coffee in them, top your tiny cakes with chocolate covered espresso beans. making tiny cakes gives people the illusion of only eating a little bit, when each one is really much larger than one serving of normal sized cake.

chopped chocolate 2

iced cake

cake 6

i have to apologize to any of my coworkers that read this blog. i was planning on bringing in some of this cake to share, i really was, but i just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. i’ve got tons of leftover cake from cutting out the rounds a bowl of frosting left too, but i’m sorry, i’m going to be selfish on this one. this cake is all mine. time for another bite.


beatty’s chocolate cake
from Barefoot Contessa at Home. sooooo good.

chocolate cake
butter for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

chocolate frosting
6 oz semisweet chocolate (not chips)
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter (at room temperature)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbsp instant coffee powder

1. make the cake: sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until combined. in another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.

2. with the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. with the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine. pour the batter into 2 buttered and floured 9 inch cake pans. bake at 350 for 45-40 minutes. cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. at this point, you can frost the cakes as normal, or use a biscuit cutter to cut out smaller cake rounds.

3. make the frosting: chop the chocolate and microwave it for 40-50 seconds, then stir to completely melt. set aside to cool. in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy. add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for about 3 minutes.

4. turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. dissolve the coffee powerd in 2 tsp of hot tap water. on low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. spread immediately on the cooled cake.

40 Comments for beatty’s chocolate cake - why not leave some love?

  1. giddy says:

    Don’t throw out those leftover bits of cake and crumbs! Mixed with a bit of softened vanilla ice cream and put back into the freezer to firm up again, it makes a wonderful dessert.

  2. flourchild says:

    Pete, I’m a new subscriber from Ohio. I bake for a local farmers market 5-1/2 months out of the year and am always looking for good new recipes. So I am excited to receive your posts. There are only three sources that I consider so reliable that I don’t need to bake a test batch before ones I plan to sell: Ina Garten (her Awesome Brownies are my best seller), Cook’s Illustrated/Cook’s Country, and King Arthur Flour. I am including a link for their German Chocolate Mini Cakes that are very similar to the one you posted, but with the normal coconut/pecan topping. The cake is divine as well (love having the scraps as you did on yours). Try this one once. I sell lots of these, too. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/RecipeDisplay?RID=1173293407025 Look forward to reading future blogs. Thanks so much, Pete.

  3. Sunshinemom says:

    Forget resolutions and eating healthier! This cake is making me dizzy!! Happy New Year!

  4. jamaica says:

    I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for ages! I will definitely give it a shot now. One of my all time favorite indulgences is a slice of cold chocolate cake from the fridge (with chocolate frosting of course!) and a tall glass of milk. YUM.

  5. Adrienne says:

    Oooh, that’s mean! I love the mini cake idea, very cute.

  6. Carina says:

    These look soooo good! I mean, why don’t we all just do our New Years Resolutions in March when people are actually in the mood to shape up? That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. Bring on the cake!

  7. These look delightful. Nice idea on giving the illusion of only having a small piece… insidious and delicious!

  8. Mike says:

    You are an evil, evil man. Keep it up.

  9. Meghan says:

    Hi! In this ingredient list for the cake, it says “1/2 vegetable oil.” 1/2 a what – tsp? Tbsp? Cup?

  10. petebakes says:

    @Meghan – good catch! it’s 1/2 cup vegetable oil. i’ve fixed it in the recipe above. thanks!

  11. Hillary says:

    I keep bookmarking new chocolate cake recipes to consider making for my boyfriend on his birthday. Yours has just been added to the list!

  12. maryann says:

    The very first day of my diet and I come across this! It DOES look like the best chocolate cake ever!

  13. Navita Hakim says:

    m off to my kitchen to make one right away…lol

    first time here. loved ur place. drop by in on mine sometime..wud be glad to show u around my 2.5 months old baby..lol

  14. I love this cake too! It is fantastic!

  15. I love the stacked mini-cake idea. It’s definitely a mignardise!

  16. Cynthia says:

    If you left me alone in your kitchen, you would come back to find me eating these with my bare hands. They look like they could settle even the worst of chocolate cravings.

  17. Karly says:

    I think I’ll make this for my mom’s birthday this week! I can’t wait!

  18. Jess says:

    OMG! What are you doing to me? I would die for a slice of that cake. I guess I’m going to have to settle for a Hersey’s kiss or something, as I don’t have time tonight to fire up the oven. GOT to put that one on my to do list. I don’t blame you for not sharing!

  19. thel says:

    Do you have a suggestion for replacing the coffee? I don’t drink it and really don’t like the taste of it in cake either. Having a hard time finding a moist chocolate cake from scratch.

  20. Lee says:

    I’ve made it several times. First time, with the coffee, and at first I didn’t like it. But, after putting it in the fridge overnight, I ate some the next morning, and couldn’t put it down after that. The icing itself is so good I made a half batch (omitting coffee) and refridgerated it and ate it just by itself like fudge. To. Die. For. This is THE best chocolate cake I have ever eaten. Subsequent times baking I have omitted the coffee, and just added water. It does make a difference serving it cold for some reason. It makes it even more irresistable. I’ve read about people having problems with their cakes exploding in the oven, or falling after they were removed, etc. But I have not had any problems with it. Also, I’ve never had problems with there not being enough icing. I always have some left over, and that’s after applying a generous amount to the cake.

  21. Carly says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I found another good one at pandalous. It’s here: http://www.pandalous.com/nodes/chocolate_cake_recipe

  22. brittany says:

    um, i definately plan on making this cake for my brothers birthday, i have 2 questions:
    1. will it taste ok with buttercream icing, it is a castle cake, and the icing has to be colored, but he wants chocolate cake

    2. the cake has coffee in the mix, does it taste like coffee? i mean, if i didnt tell him it was in there, would he know?

    • petebakes says:

      hi brittany,

      the cake should still taste great with buttercream icing. the actual cake itself is very moist and chocolate-y. the coffee adds a bit of depth to the flavor and brings out the chocolate, but it doesn’t really taste like coffee, per say.

  23. natalia says:

    I feel terrible asking this, as the mini-cakes are so adorable. I’d like to make the cake but as cupcakes, for a birthday party. I just won’t have the time to make the mini cakes and it’s a very casual party. Do you think the mix would do well for cupcakes? Thanks!

    • petebakes says:

      hi natalia, i can’t see why not these wouldn’t work as cupcakes. i would maybe do a test run of just a few before you do a whole batch though, so you can adjust the timing. good luck!

  24. JT says:

    Wow – what an accomplished baker you are, Pete. I’d be terrified to bake Beatty’s Chocolate Cake (have looked at the pic in Ina Garten’s Cookbook a million times and would LOVE to eat it. 🙂 I’m just a beginning baker – so – if you – and any of your beginner followers – want something easy and delish to try – may I suggest Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-yogurt-cake-recipe/index.html .

    Never in my life made a cake from scratch. Whipped this up – took it to a friend’s dinner party. RAVE reviews. Someone compared it to a fancydance bakery in Vermont – said “dead ringer”. Couldn’t take any home because, of course, I wanted to leave the last 2 pieces for the hostess. Bottom line – she called ME the next morning, told me she and her boyfriend polished them off – AND…would I PLS. bake it again? 🙂

    P.S. I substitute 5 eggwhites for the amount of eggs she recommends. Other than that – this is one of Ina’s recipes that actually doesn’t have 2 lbs of butter – and other things that you swear would give you a heart attack by the time you’re finished eating. (I’m always making adjustments).

    Ina Garten RULES. Try it and pass it along to your visitors. You won’t be sorry.


  25. G.S says:

    Hi, thanks for posting this recipe. On a whim, felt like making a quick chocolate cake w/ my 4 year old and saw this recipe about 1.5 hour ago… had most of the ingredients so we forged ahead. The result is a spongy, soft, more than adequate chocolate cake (I say “more than adequate” since on occasion I’ve eaten what people thought was the best chocolate cake they’ve ever had only to find it to be lighter than air and not really substantial or adequate enough for me to fulfill a chocolate cake craving). This really is quite possibly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made/eaten.

    BTW, we were making applesauce at the same time and substituted half the oil for applesauce and I would’ve never known this was done if we didn’t make it for ourselves. Plus we didn’t have buttermilk on hand so we substituted soy milk. We also didn’t sift (we didn’t have much time) or make the icing. I don’t like to bastardize recipes to this extent, but it’s 8 p.m and I really didn’t want to run to the store, plus it’s nearly the little one’s bedtime! Luckily the results were astounding. Serious Kudos to you sir. Looking forward to spending more time on your site. =)

  26. Suzan says:

    I was looking up Ina’s recipe, and found you on top of the list. Not only did I find what has been called the best chocolate cake recipe in the universe, you also inspired me to finally pick out my blog template and pull out my camera to start posting real estate stuff in my area. Thanks so much for the double inspiration! I’ll be back.

  27. Janicia says:

    I just tried this recipe and I can now claim that it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted!

    My friends totally LOVE it!

  28. Katie says:

    It’s a ‘Barefoot Contessa’ recipe, so the fact that you made it and then blogged about it is ridiculous. People are giving you credit for making a recipe! You bloggers are so ridiculous. Try to do something original and then write about it.

  29. Borshep says:

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe – it’s the most wonderful chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever tried. I just used it to make 2 eight inch cakes, stacked and frosted. It was a huge hit.

    Takes care of my chocolate fix!

  30. paige says:

    Just found your site!! Good stuff – both the baking and picture taking. In my way of thinking the picture taking is the hardest, but it really helps us to see the steps along the way the the finished product. I’ve found it hard to make things when not knowing what it should look like. Also, thank you for sharing Ina’s chocolate cake recipe. I have used another recipe of hers – again found on the internet – which is a peanut butter frosting for a chocolate cake. Oh, it is delicious also. Get lots of raves. Thank you, again.

  31. McLovin says:

    Best. Cake. Ever.

  32. Genelia Santanelli says:

    Hola! I was surfing for inspiration on how to decorate a chocolate cake for my niece this coming week. The chocolate cake has a silky chocolate frosting and it’s not really meant to be touched once iced. UNLESS i chill it a bit once iced. It happens to be that the cake I am making is this one you posted on. Ina’s! I have been baking this chocolate cake non stop for months because it has become my family’s favorite (and mine)! You were right on the mark with how superbly moist and fresh kept for days this cake is. (Although, it doesn’t last more than a day and a 1/2 in our home.) My Sis has even told me that it’s become such a favorite in her home that when I bake them a whole cake, they each tend to hide slices around the house when they’re at work so that no one grabs the last slice! 🙂

    I do have a question for you though… I’m not sure if you’re recipe above is her “silky chocolate” icing version or her chocolate buttercream version. It looks like the buttercream one. Why do you suggest not using chips? Don’t laugh, but i have been using only Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate bars because when I first attempted the recipe, it was all i was able to find locally. AND EVERYONE LOVED IT! but now, i want to use Callebaut for my niece’s and since I typically only shop at King Arthur’s, they only have chips. So should I not use chips?? 🙁

    Warm regards,

  33. karen bradley says:

    Just one questions, folks, as I attempt Ina’s (Beatty’s) chocolate cake: I can ONLY find low fat buttermilk, i.e. 1.5%
    Is that all there is these days and is that what you use?
    I went to 3 supermarkets and a healthfood store. ALL are 1.5% butterfat, calling it light cultured buttermilk.

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