I've recently changed 'favorite chocolate cake' recipes - I borrowed, doubled, and slightly modified one from @thescranline, and it's *amazing.* Also a tad less labor-intensive than my prior favorite. Score! Check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work!
Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy ‘grams to cups converter’. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome!
Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml buttermilk (about 1 ½ ; buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 t vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a convection oven. Grease 3 8-inch cake pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible.
Next, add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill the three pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
This is a great time to make your ganache filling/drip and frosting!
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- Small piping bag – this set has been one of my favorites!
- 1 recipe chocolate ganache for filling & drip – recipe below!
- Black/gold sprinkle mix of your choice – the mix I used has been discontinued, but this ‘Black Magic’ mix by Sweetapolita is very similar! A bit of butter or shortening is the easiest way to stick the sprinkles to your finger to add the drip.
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
- Squeeze bottle OR piping bag OR spoon – whatever you’d prefer to add your ganache drip to the cake
- ‘A good job interview begins with a firm handshake and ends with…’ and ‘Letting everyone down’ Cards Against Humanity cards + 2 toothpicks (again, if you want printable versions of the cards email me; I can send you the file I used to print them!)
I filled this cake with chocolate ganache, and the lag time while you’re waiting for the cakes to cool is a great time to make the ganache so you can cool or chill it to a spreadable consistency!
Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky.
Reserve about 1 cup of ganache to chill to fill the cake. Add gel food coloring to the remaining ganache and stir until color is even.
(If desired, this can also be done in the microwave – combine ingredients and microwave on half power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth).
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. With your piping bag, pipe a small ‘dam’ of frosting around the outer edge of the cake, and fill the center with chocolate ganache. (Or if you’d rather fill with frosting, you can absolutely do that instead!)
Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. I usually do this with my large offset spatula.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
When your black ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I've just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining ganache, and return cake to the fridge for 3-5 minutes to soft-set the drips.
Once the drips are semi-set, put a bit of butter or shortening on your fingertip and use that finger to transfer sprinkles to your black drip.
Add a small drizzle of ganache to the rim of the cake, and add some sprinkles over the ganache.
I printed paper replicas of the two Cards Against Humanity cards that I wanted, then taped them to skewers (toothpicks would work as well) and used those to stand them up on top of the cake.
And you’re done!