barefoot contessa chocolate cake, ina garten chocolate cake

Seriously Delicious Chocolate Cake

2013 January 23

Tell your health and fitness related New Year’s Resolution to step out in the hall and do some crunches while you and I have a word. Come a little closer and let me whisper in your ear.

Chocolate cake. Like seriously delicious chocolate Cake. Make it. Eat it. Find an excuse to make it again.

My Man’s birthday was last week and it was only fitting that we celebrate with a dinner party and a super special dessert. I scoured the internet for recipes and recommendations and salivated as I scrolled through Pinterest pins of sweet delights. Then I happened upon this recipe for Barefoot Contessa’s chocolate cake. She says that of all the chocolate cakes she’s ever had (and between us, I think she has had quite a few) this remains her very very favorite. I have actually seen the episode where she makes this cake for one of her high-rolling gay Hamptons friends and it looked delicious and totally doable. My Man deserves the very best, and if there ever was an occasion to dust off the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, this is it.

The following recipe created the best homemade chocolate cake that I have ever had. Though I may not have eaten as much chocolate cake as Ina, I have had more than my fair share. This one meets my VERY high standards and will be heretofore my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

from the Barefoot Contessa

Time: Prep:40 minutes Total: 1hour 30 minutes

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened 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 vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Frosting Ingredients

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder**


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two deep 8-inch or 9-inchround cake pans and line them with parchment paper then butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess. (OR spray liberally with PAM)
  2. 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, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the hot coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, and then turn cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. For the frosting: 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. (OR In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chopped chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.)
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.
  6. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the remaining frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

*A few recipe notes: Um, this recipe has over 1600 five-star reviews on the Food Network site. That’s sayin’ somethin.’ It was also printed in Food & Wine magazine wherein they recommend refrigerating the cake for at least 1 hour before slicing. Consider it optional as the Barefoot Contessa didn’t do this when she first printed the recipe and served it to her clique of eccentric Hamptonites. I also used two 9 inch pans because my 8-inch pans were too shallow. Made ahead, the frosted cake can be refrigerated for 3 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.*

The cake is dark and super moist but somehow very light and airy. Overall the cake came together quite easily. The only high-maintenance aspect of this recipe is that it calls for hot freshly brewed coffee. You don’t really notice the coffee except that it magically enhances the flavor of the chocolate. And you have to beat the butter in the icing for a long time to get it fluffy. But OHMYGOODNESS it’s worth it. This is hands down the best homemade chocolate cake that I have ever had.

Served with vanilla ice cream, this cake is a revelation. Make it for you and/or someone you love.

**Edited to add one more ingredient note: I recently made this delicious cake and used Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee instead of the instant coffee powder that the icing recipe calls for. I learned the hard way that those are NOT the same thing and are therefore not interchangeable. While the icing was still delicious, using the VIA made it taste like strong coffee icing instead of chocolate icing. No one complained because the cake was still quite tasty and complaining would be quite rude, but I was kicking myself for botching that part. Lesson learned.


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