A Chocolate and Coffee Death Wish

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A week ago I held a little birthday celebration for a dear friend. The menu consisted of Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe, Burrata and Tapenade Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Chicken Marbella, and Balsamic Roasted Artichokes with Garlic Aioli. The six of us shared multiple/many bottles of wine, dined and empathized about getting older. And then, the night and my life took a turn for the worse – I unveiled the birthday cake.


This was no ordinary birthday cake. It was a chocolate and coffee lover’s dream, a recipe from Ina Garten’s friend. A decadent and fluffy chocolate cake made deep and dark and rich with a secret trick – a cup of hot coffee poured into the batter. And the frosting? It was like a scoopful of coffee ice cream. Is there anything more luxurious and decadent than that?


Here is my advice to all you chocolate and coffee lovers out there, make this cake. It could not be a more simple recipe, and takes very little time – in my cake baking experience. It will make you smile, and melt, and release any tension from your day. Just try it.


NOTE: I added a previously made vanilla bean cream cheese frosting as the cake filling, and still had almost too little frosting to cover the cake. Considering how amazing the frosting is – you might as well make double!




Butter, for greasing the pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.


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