This intensely chocolaty Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is a totally indulgent dessert. The cake is rich and moist with a tender crumb and it’s a chocolate lover’s dream. Especially with my favorite chocolate buttercream frosting slathered generously between the layers and around the outside – no fancy piping or decorating skills required!
Years ago, before we had moved to the California Bay Area, we were in San Francisco on vacation when I found a cookbook at the Baker’s Hall store attached to the Boudin Bread Factory on Fisherman’s Wharf called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth. It was, of course, right up my alley and is still one of my favorite cookbooks in my collection. This devil’s food chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is from that book, although I’ve adapted the recipe a bit over the years.
I can’t believe this devil’s food chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is only the second layer cake recipe I have posted here on House of Nash Eats! And the last time I posted a cake was way back in October when I posted my Aunt Becky’s Black Forest Cake! Sure, I’ve posted about Strawberry Shortcake and Sticky Toffee Pudding as well, but those just aren’t the same thing as a tall, beautiful layered cake. So today I’m working toward remedying this shortcoming in my recipe library!
This is my go to chocolate cake recipe and it’s definitely a keeper. I make it for birthdays, for special occasions, or when friends are coming over. I looked for years and years for just the right devil’s food chocolate cake recipe but so many were too sweet or too dry and crumbly or just not chocolaty-enough for me.
The thing I love about this chocolate cake is that the chocolate factor is deep and intense. That’s in part to using both cocoa powder AND bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate in the cake batter. The dark brown sugar in the batter also boosts both the flavor and moisture level of the cake. And using buttermilk, oil, and boiling water with your wet ingredients keeps the cake from going dry or crumbly.
I love serving a big slice of this cake with a few raspberries on the side and a nice tall glass of cold milk for drinking.
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- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon of salt)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4-5 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two round cake pans by cutting circles of parchment paper to line the bottoms, then lightly spray the insides of the pans with cooking spray.
Combine the cocoa powder and finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then add in the vanilla. Let this cool for a few minutes before stirring in the buttermilk.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and oil together for 1 minute. Add the dark brown and granulated sugars and beat for another 2-3 minutes, until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add half of this to the batter and mix on low speed just until combined. Pour in half of the chocolate-buttermilk mixture and mix again, just until combined, then repeat with the flour and the remaining chocolate-buttermilk mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions, until everything is incorporated.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Be sure not to overbake.
Transfer the cakes to wire racks and allow them to cool completely before assembling the cake with frosting.
In a large bowl, cream the butter for 2 minutes using an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix again at the lowest speed until combined.
Add the salt, vanilla and milk or cream and increase the speed to medium, mixing until the chocolate buttercream is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. For a softer frosting, increase the milk or cream by small increments., half a tablespoon at a time. Makes enough to very generously frost a two-layer cake.
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