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Death By Chocolate Cake Recipe

This old-fashioned chocolate cake with gourmet ingredients and a different baking mix than your traditional chocolate cake will leave even non-cake fans into enthusiastic believers who have experienced this death by chocolate cake recipe.

A few weeks ago I shared on Instagram stories a secret cake recipe I’ve been sitting on for over a decade, the Death By Chocolate Cake recipe. I’ve never had a response like that! DM’s galore asking to please share it, messages later asking if I’d posted yet, comments of people who had searched the blog and couldn’t locate it. Trust me, it’s worth the hype! And it has a crazy story, which I promise is important and I’ll share briefly.

The Death By Chocolate Cake Story

I hated cake most of my life. It just never did it for me. So much so that I asked for ice cream with birthday candles for my birthday each year. I moved states and schools my second year of teaching high school English, and our English department had the cutest Valentine’s Day tradition. We each had to bring something chocolate and a 2-3 minute mushy movie clip to enjoy during a department lunch. I was asked if I’d like some homemade chocolate cake, which I declined and said I’m not really a cake person. I’m not kidding when I say the room stopped and all eyes turned to me.

It was explained to me that this was no ordinary cake, this was the most amazing cake in the world and it would change me. The baker was our brilliant AP teacher who was the coolest hipster guy you’d ever meet. He explained that we’d changed how we’d baked in the U.S. to accommodate for Dutch processing (aka alkaline process) which I’d never heard of before. He told me this was a WWII and beyond cake that used a different cocoa powder and ingredients to make. I was sold at how well the man knew his baking history and took a bite. Indeed, my life was changed that day and I begged for the recipe. Which was called “Chocolate Cake” and being the English teacher who would soon change careers and get a marketing degree soul that I was/am, I immediately rebranded it with a name I felt appropriate.

Why This Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Recipe is Different

I mentioned it above, but the premise of the ingredient variation is the key. Dutch processing is in most cocoa powders in the U.S., and you can read about what it is and why it’s done here. Former students, Wikipedia still isn’t okay in research papers just because I’m using it here on the blog, got it? So you essentially need to find non-Dutch processed cocoa or alkaline-free cocoa to make this beauty. It can be a bit tricky to find, but most gourmet food stores and health stores carry it. Here’s an excellent one on Amazon from Peru, and our love is strong for Peruvian chocolate.

For the Best Cake Imaginable

Here’s the other thing my co-worker who shared this recipe with me insisted on that has been 100% true. He told me he’s found you really get out what you put in. If you use waxy chocolate, it’s not great. You need to buy good chocolate chips/chocolate bars for this. Another surprise ingredient is coffee. Back in WWII era with cocoa was rationed, coffee was often used to help create that stronger, darker flavor. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I was clueless to this or what to use. He told me to go get a freshly brewed cup from my coffee loving friends favorite place. For the record, that’s Dutch Brothers, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. Because I’m cheap and it’s easy, I go get a McDonald’s small typically. It’s the perfect amount. If you’re really stingy on coffee, you can go with a decaf, but it’s such a small amount used I never stress it. My mom who is a religious puritan and doesn’t believe in coffee gets a decaf every time. It’s close to the same flavor. So you’ve been warned in advance, cheaper ingredients, the wrong cocoa powder, or a bad cup of jo can really make this into just an okay cake instead of the life-changing Death By Chocolate Cake that it is! Believe us, we’ve tried it with a lot of variations and this a cake worth every penny!

Old fashioned chocolate cake: This death by chocolate cake recipe with old fashioned elite ingredients is unlike anything you've tasted before!

Death By Chocolate Cake Recipe

For the two cake layers:
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I use the best chocolate chips I can find)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups non-Dutch processed cocoa powder (unsweetened)
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 buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Ganache Frosting Ingredients

1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips to the rescue again)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted real butter

Bakeware needed:
Two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans

Death by chocolate cake recipe: the best old-fashioned chocolate cake with ganache frosting

The Best Chocolate Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper. It makes a difference, it will stick so be sure to line and to grease!

Finely chop chocolate or use chocolate chips. Combine with hot coffee in a bowl. Let mixture stand, stirring
occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Into a mixing bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients.
In another large bowl (use an electric mixer if you have one), 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 the oil,
buttermilk, vanilla. Then add the melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add the sugar
mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Don’t over mix! Divide batter between pans and
bake in the middle of your oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10
minutes. Keep an eye out: over cooked cake is too dry, undercooked won’t hold the layers like it should.

Cool the two cake layers completely in their pans on cooling racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers
onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely.

Ganache Frosting Directions:

Grab your chocolate chips or chop chocolate if you used a bar. In a 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a
boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until it’s smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on the chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting for a few minutes to an hour until it’s a spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. You can chill it for up the three days, and be sure to let it come to room temperature before serving.

Then we ready to have Death By Chocolate Cake change your life and the way you feel you about cake as you enjoy every bite!

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  1. How strong is the coffee taste? Love chocolate, but I’ve never liked the taste of coffee.

    1. fridaywereinlove says:

      Not strong at all! It tastes like dark chocolate in this cake!

  2. Rosa Eaton says:

    Pretty funny that your mom only buys decaf!! I wonder how she’s taking it that BYU now has caffeinated coke products on campus ! Thanks for sharing the recipe you know our Dutch addiction problems pretty well. Love ya! Congrats on the new one coming!